Tag Archives: renaissance

La Clemenza di Tito – The Gown That Became Vitellia’s

12 Jan

When I first decided to start making costumes from my Mozart Project, it was because I felt I could better bring to life the operas through photography with fantastical and historical costumes. At that time I had already taken a few photos, but felt that I could do better — produce better images — and on many occasions I did re-shoots to more accurately capture my vision. I made a red gown for one of those re-shoots, but never got around to using it. The shoot fell through or never worked out, and so the dress remained.

With only one photo left to take for the project, I decided I would just use that dress, no matter what Historical context it belonged in, just because I spent so much time and money on it. Therefore, this is the dress that Vitellia wears in my “La Clemenza di Tito” images.

Elizabeth shows off Vitellia's gown, make-up and headdress.

Elizabeth shows off Vitellia’s gown, make-up and headdress.

With no connections to Ancient Rome outside of the headdress, the gown actually seems to have a bit of a Medieval flair. Using it on Vitellia was simply a choice based on having a complex gown in the closet, made and never used. Very little thought went into how to make it work Historically, or anything. I did, however, base the headdress on ancient Roman headdresses.

When I was building this dress, my goal was to do elegant ribbon embroidery!

I bought and used numerous silk, polyester and blended ribbons to do the 3-D embroidery. I used beads and pearls, and the one thing I remember about creating this dress was that it started costing more than it was worth. I chose polyester for the gown, and the embroidery started to inflate in price 2-3 times more than the cost of the dress fabric, and as anybody with any sense knows, this is both bad and slightly inept, because the dress grows disproportionate in value if I ever wanted to resell. “Here’s a gown that cost $45 in fabric and has hundreds of dollars and hours sunk into the embroidery! Want to buy it?”

Not only was the cost of the embroidery growing out of control, it began taking so many days. I literally drained my bank account to do the embroidery, and spent at least four days just going to the store search for and buying more embroidery floss. It was awful, and I actually just gave up, calling my mom and saying, the dress is a money pit and I’m done!

I left the dress as you see it in the image directly below…

The dress from center front.

The dress from center front before the embroidery was finished.

Years later, when Catey Lockhart signed on to be my apprentice, I saw a good opportunity to finish the dress. I added thick knitting ribbon on the apex of the bosom, a spot I had initially wanted to fill with more ribbonwork flowers. I also bought a brooch shaped like leaves to finish out the center. Catey added freshwater pearls all along the bottom of the dress, which, frankly, you’ll never see.

Front detail of the ribbon embroidered dress used for Vitellia.

Front detail of the ribbon embroidered dress used for Vitellia.

Looking at the dress now, I feel that it is clearly an early work — it was my third or fourth full scale gown — and all I see is embroidery that never quite got to the point I wanted it. Something that makes me feel better, however, is that my mother loves this dress. She loves the details and the colors, and because I could never resell it (money pit), I can gladly give it to her and allow her to enjoy it for the rest of her years!

A Sleeve detail (left) and back detail (right)

A Sleeve detail (left) and back detail (right)

The sad end to this story is that my embroidery days are over. I cannot physically do it because it makes my eyes hurt, and has caused my sight to go blurry and caused at least two trips to the eye doctor. While 3-D embroidery is cool looking, and has a great texture, this was my one foray into the technique. This was the final reason for using this anachronistic costume in the “La Clemenza di Tito” photo… I wanted this health-threatening, never-ending money-pit to have some sort of payoff!

Please subscribe to this blog, because, for those of you who follow me know, I will be producing a book featuring my images in 2015 and am eager to share all of the progress with you as it happens!

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The Christian from Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots

27 Oct

That crazy German title, “Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots” means “The Obligation to the First and Foremost Commandment”.

This opera, Mozart’s first, is an allegorical play about Christianity where Worldliness (similar to a disguised Satan) comes and tries to lure a sleeping Christian away to earthly pleasures.

My photo illustrates this allegory. The Knight has cast his armor aside, and fallen asleep, while Worldliness disguised as a beautiful woman comes to seduce him.

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots, Act 1 by Tyson Vick

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots, Act 1 by Tyson Vick

I wanted a super-cool Knight costume for my sleeping Christian, and because I was in my early stages of learning to sew, I wanted to re-create something I loved, the costume Prince Caspian wears in the film “Prince Caspian”.

Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia in a costume by Isis Mussenden.

Isis Mussenden, the costume designer for “The Chronicles of Narnia” blew me away with her handsome outfit from the end of “Prince Caspian”. I wanted to try to recreate it, and like most early costumers, I didn’t know where to look for the correct fabrics. So, I used my favorite, silk, the completely wrong weight.

Jake models the outfit I made for my sleeping Chrisitan.

Jake models the outfit I made for my sleeping Chrisitan.

To bolster the weight, the silk is fused to a heavy interfacing. I altered another pattern, this time really heavily. This was one of the early projects that started to teach me how patterns are made.

Another front view.

Another front view.

I like how the outfit turned out, even though if I were making it today, I probably wouldn’t copy Isis so thoroughly.

The Back.

The Back.

In my images of the costume that I used on Etsy, Jake models wearing a different shirt than the one I used in the photo. The shirt I used in the photo was made from the best fabric I have ever found. I love the colors, the pattern, and I used every inch to make this shirt. It is one of my favorites!

Gold damask shirt.

Gold damask shirt.

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Worldliness from Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots

20 Oct

When you look at the title of this post without a background in German, the title of the play just looks like a jumble of letters. I assure you, however, that it means something in English, the equal jumble of letters, “The Obligation to the First and Foremost Commandment”. This opera, Mozart’s first, is an allegorical play about Christianity where Worldliness (similar to a disguised Satan) comes and tries to lure a sleeping Christian away to earthly pleasures.

My photo illustrates this allegory. The Knight has cast his armor aside, and fallen asleep, while Satan disguised as a beautiful woman comes to seduce him.

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots, Act 1 by Tyson Vick

Die Schuldigkeit des Ersten Gebots, Act 1 by Tyson Vick

These costumes were some of my earliest costuming work. At this point I was learning how to sew using patterns, and this was the first pattern I needed to alter. This gown comes from Simplicity 3782.

Simplicity 3782

Simplicity 3782

I needed the lower cut bodice to close in the front, and so began my long career of pattern altering.

Elizabeth models this gown for Etsy.

Elizabeth models this gown for Etsy.

This gown also caused a bit of a problem, when after it was complete, I realized it could never — ever — be laundered. It was made out of a Brocade with a Rayon blend and Satin. The rayon would shrink by entire inches when wet, the satin would stain and the boning that I used could not withstand the dry-cleaning. I am now much more careful. I pre-shrink everything — who cares what it is? All of my wool is very tiny now, lol. Or I make sure it can be dry cleaned.

The gown has a full skirt.

The gown has a full skirt.

However, the color choice is still very pretty. I sold this gown on Etsy when I first set up shop! And yes, I told her about the laundering trouble!

The bodice was altered to close in the front.

The bodice was altered to close in the front.

You will also see that I altered the pattern to have more sleeve slashes. I wish now I would have put these on the top of the arm, because you cannot see this detail in the final image very well.

The sleeves pour out of cuts in the back.

The sleeves pour out of cuts in the back.

I also made a corset for this gown!

Elizabeth laughs in the matching corset.

Elizabeth laughs in the matching corset.

The corset was pre-shrunk, thank goodness, and so it won’t warp when you spill water all over yourself. It was made out of scraps which were cut and sewn back together, a bit like a quilt!

The corset is made of strips of yellow and brocade fabric.

The corset is made of strips of yellow and brocade fabric.

This was the first thing I ever listed on Etsy, and it still lingers there, unsold. 😦 It was even down to $30 once, when I was trying new things and seeing if low prices would move the items. It did not, and so I put it back up, but not, perhaps so high as it should be…. go buy it.

The corset is in the medieval style.

The corset is in the medieval style. and comes from Simplicty Pattern 2621

 

Remember to subscribe to the blog to see all of the costume posts! There is a new one every week, and this will last a while!

Don Giovanni Costumes, Womenswear

6 Oct

Last time, we took a look at some of the menswear from my award-winning Don Giovanni photo. Today, I’m going to show you all of the gowns I made for the ladies!

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

As I mentioned in my last post, the image depicts Don Giovanni during his dinner party where the players are entertaining him. Each player is supposed to represent a character from the Commedia Dell’arte and each outfit is supposed to enhance the sex appeal of a certain body part (Bosom, Legs and Hips). Commedia Dell’arte is an art form, the basis of most comedy throughout History, and is formed of stock characters such as the fat buffoonish man (Harlequin) and his sexy wife (Columbina), who you will recognize in modern comedies such as The Simpsons (Homer/Marge), Family Guy (Peter/Lois) and many sitcoms. Each character is represent by a mask, so that no matter who plays Harlequin, the face is instantly recognizable. It’s a lot like a grassroots ad-campaign, getting people to know the characters in a time before television and advertising existed. There are numerous other characters in Commedia as well!

These costumes, while all based on something Historical, are meant to look more High-Fashion and theatrical. I wanted to do a Historical Dolce and Gabbana, essentially.

 

Guitar Player – Isabella

First, the sexy hips of Isabella, the Guitar Lady. Isabella is Commedia Dell’arte figure who is generally a very sassy, strong willed woman who finds love with the help of the other characters.

The model, Danica, wears the dress cheerfully.

The model, Danica, wears the dress cheerfully.

Her dress is based off a dress conceptualized by the illustrator Barbier in his image “Jour et Nuit”. I based my dress of of “jour” down there.

Barbier's illustration "Jour et Nuit" (Day and Night)

Barbier’s illustration “Jour et Nuit” (Day and Night)

I made the gown out of Silk Taffeta, and the bodice, which descends over the hips, is made up of random pintucks of the fabric.

The white, pintucked silk gown worn by the guitar playing lady in my photo.

The white, pintucked silk gown worn by the guitar playing lady in my photo.

The gown laces up the back, and the skirt is lined with tulle to give it some more shape.

The white silk gown from the front and the back.

The white silk gown from the front and the back.

A hoop is placed under the gown to make the hips suuuuuuper wide. Because I’m using a rococo hoop, which is worn at the waist, and the dress extends to the hips, it sort of forces the hoops to pop up through resistance. The neck ruff, which stood up so nicely in the arid climate of Montana, drooped despairingly when we got to the humidity of California, but, there it is.

A hoop is placed underneath and this lifts the hips out.

A hoop is placed underneath and this lifts the hips out.

The lady also wears this lovely vintage set of jewelry I purchased at the local antique market, and which I have listed for sale on Etsy. I am also selling the dress to clear out my closet.

rhinestoneset2

 

 

Masked Lady Plaer – Columbina

Next up is the player based off of Columbina. Columbina is a spunky servant girl who is either married to or in love with Harlequin.

I made her mask out of craft foam on the fly, because a leather one was too expensive to buy.

This mask was made from craft foam and rub-n-buffed to be silver.

This mask was made from craft foam and rub-n-buffed to be silver.

The dress, on the other hand, was a fun one to build! It is also the dress I got into an eternal loop trying to turn. When you sew a garment, you sew it back to front and then turn it through an opening and press the seams. Somehow, I managed to make this dress into a sort of tube, and tried to find the other side of the garment, fruitlessly, for around 20 minutes, before realizing it was impossible to turn. Hilarious sewing antics aside, the gown was made out of all of my white fabric scraps!

The center gown was based of of Harlequin and is made of patches of fabric.

The center gown was based of of Harlequin and is made of patches of fabric.

The gown is a skirt in the front, but has a small train in the back. I was trying to think of a High-Fashion take on a rococo gown, with the wide hips, but that showed off the legs. This is what I got:

The patch dress is a skirt in front but has a train in back.

The patch dress is a skirt in front but has a train in back.

I have a lot of white fabric scraps, and I sewed them together, randomly, to make fabric yardage. I did not use any new fabrics, only scraps!

You can see the patchwork fabrics in this detail.

You can see the patchwork fabrics in this detail.

This lady wears the Jewelry shown below. With this necklace I purchased a super cheap necklace at Walmart and added my own jewel findings to it in order to make it more gaudy.

UpcycledGemstoneNecklaceSet2

 

The Feathered Lady – La Ruffiana

The lady on the far right is based off of La Ruffiana, and if you look closely you will see she is holding an ugly mask. La Ruffiana is a Commedia character who is an ugly old woman, usually a pimp or lady of loose morals. I sort of decided, without telling any of the models, that this lady was the Madame of this troop of players, and I just sort of assumed that they all played instruments, did plays and were available for after-parties (if you know what I mean) for Don Giovanni. In the play, Donna Elvira denounces Don Giovanni for his late night sex parties. Anyway, that’s part of my inspiration for illustrating this scene as a high-fashion, Commedia Dell’arte mash-up.

don_giovanni_group03

The “madame” of the troupe of players on the right.

You will notice this costume displays bosoms prominently. This gown is based off a Renaissance cut and concept, with poofy sleeves and more of an A-Line then the Rococo’s huge hips.

don_giovanni_group01

This dress got stained during its travels, and so I recycled it into another gown for my illustration of “La Finta Semplice”. You can see that process here.

Finally, here is some of the big Jewelry worn by these ladies:

3RingGems2

I hope you’ve enjoyed the look at these Commedia inspired gowns I created for my Don Giovanni photo!

There will be so many costume updates from here on out, that I urge you to subscribe to the blog! You won’t want to miss any posts!

 

 

Don Giovanni Costumes, Menswear

29 Sep

Now that my Mozart Project is nearly finished, and I am working on getting the book ready, I will be taking you on a tour of all those costumes which never got blogged about before! As I am currently preparing the photos for my book which will feature all of my illustrations of Mozart’s operas plus text I am writing about each play, there is very little new costume progress to show you guys! But perhaps you will enjoy looking costumes from the finished photos a little closer?

don_giovanni_group02

 

First up is Don Giovanni! In my award winning photo, seen below, the feast scene in Don Giovanni is depicted. I chose to photograph it like a fashion spread, and therefore made unique costumes for each player, as well as the leads.

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

Don Giovanni Act Two, by Tyson Vick

 

Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni’s coat is opulent. The structure is a Renaissance doublet, and the effect used on the fabric is extremely complex. It is essentially hundreds of pintucks.

Jake models the outfit worn  by Don Giovanni to show it off clearly.

Jake models the outfit worn by Don Giovanni to show it off clearly.

This, to date,is the most difficult costume I have made. It is the only one that I have ever attempted that I thought I might have to quit because of the difficulty. I used an idea from the book Fabricate by  Susan Wasinger (which is practically free on Amazon, so click that link and git it!) where pintucks are overlapped to create a fabric made of ridges.

A close up of the fantastic detail of the coat.

A close up of the fantastic detail of the coat.

The problem with the tutorial is that it was impossible to control over the size and dimensions of the doublet pattern, and after the first two rows, it went completely insane. I was about to give up, when my mother suggested doing the strips separately. Essentially, cutting each strip, folding it over once, sewing it down, and then repeating that process. This is what I ended up doing, and it worked great.

 

The models lounge around on the sofa.

The models lounge around on the sofa.

 

The doublet is made out of eco-felt (a felt made out of recycled bottles), because at the time, which was very early in my garment making (it’s basically the fifth thing I ever sewed), I could not afford anything expensive because the yardage required for something like this is quite a lot.

 

Leporello

Leporello basically makes this image. People love how he is just in the background eating, while everyone else is looking so Fashionable! I think this evokes the nature of the party scene, where musically, Don Giovanni has things to do and Leporello just wants to eat.

I built a new shirt for Leporello. Many years before this big scene image, Jon portrayed Leporello in an image with Donna Elvira. That was back before I was making costumes, and so his shirt is just the most pirate-y looking thing I could buy at a store. I decided to build him a very similar shirt, but with much bigger sleeves, for his return to model for me again.

Damask Pirate Shirt worn by Leporello.

Damask Pirate Shirt worn by Leporello.

The shirt is made out of an awesome rayon-knit damask. I drapes romantically, and I loved the fabric. I have some more, because I bought it all, to make even more fun shirts!

The Damask shirt from the front and back.

The Damask shirt from the front and back.

 

Masked Boy Player – Zani

The boy in the Zani mask, playing the flute, also wears a pirate shirt. This one was 100% rayon, and reveals a lot of the man’s torso. Unlike Leporello’s above, this one can actually close. Each “player” who is entertaining Don G. is based off of a Commedia Character. This flautist is Zani, a character in stock comedy who comes on the scene to do something hilarious whenever the audience looks a little bored.

zani_01

This shirt is just a New Look pattern that I liked to use in my early shirt making exploits. I still like it, but I feel like I need to alter it for a man’s body, because the sleeve and waistline fit a little small.

Jake modeled this shirt in Kismet Magazine, not just to photograph it better!

Jake modeled this shirt in Kismet Magazine, not just to photograph it better!

All the players are given outfits that enhance their sex appeal. When we go over the ladies dresses you will see one emphasizes breasts, on legs and the other hips (hilariously).

white_rayon_pirate_shirt_front

This shirt looks more renaissance than Leporello’s, which is more Pirate.

white_rayon_pirate_shirt_frontback

Stay tuned for the next post, which will feature all the ladies costumes!

And remember to subscribe to this blog, because I’m going to be putting up a lot of costume posts, and you won’t want to miss them!