Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Arwen Angel Dress Planning (Part 1): Debut of "Everyday Lord of the Rings Clothes: Epic and Wearable"

This post is about my dress plans inspired from this dress that Arwen wears in Frodo's half-vision of her, when she finds them after he's been wounded.
 I know it should be Glorfindel. But the dress is still pretty.

 It has been dubbed "Arwen's Angel Dress" by fans. I love the dresses in the Lord of the Rings movies.

In the "making of" extras, and the "Art of Lord of the Rings" books, as well as interviews etc, you see how much craft went into the outfits. They emblazoned emblems of the 7 tiers of Minas Tirith on Faramir's buckle straps, even though you never see it, because, as a son of the steward of Gondor, its the kind of thing he would have.
Aragorn's leather jerkin is torn, gouged, etc in many places, with crude repair jobs that suggest he fixed it on his own by a campfire. His shirt has fine embroidery on it, like it was a gift from the elves, though then it was so faded and worn that you can barely tell.
Denethor is wearing AN ENTIRE SUIT OF CHAIN MAILLE underneath his robes, because he's a warrior underneath, even though you never see it.

Alas and totally squandered by whoever wrote the script, and the cherry-tomato-eating-while-your-son-is-dying bit. Really. They made Denethor a cartoon, with none of the manliness, the heart, the regret, that made him so human, that made watching him be eaten out by pride and despair so horrific. (Instead, we're practically cheering as that mean ol' cartoon falls to his death. So sad.)

It was seeing the jerkins and the clothes, and how they were planned and weathered that gave me new respect for costume (or "outfit") makers. It was another way of telling a story. But with tears and sun-fading and sword cuts patched up with crude stitches instead of words.
But the pictures were there all the same...Strider, slightly wounded, patching up his gear by a solitary campfire under a cold starry sky....


Onto dresses.
See the beautiful embroidery/beading around the neck.

Ironically (given the real topic of this post) the elves clothing is my least favorite of all the costume design. I just cant' see Tolkien's elves, especially his men elves, like Elrond, trailing around their courtyards in huge velvet bathrobes whose sleeves drag down on the ground.
The elves climbed trees. And sang silly songs at the dwarves. They were also sad, and grave, and deep. I get that. But I think they would wear clothes that they could move in, climb trees in, swing between branches stringing lanterns in.

But some of Arwen's Gowns are quite beautiful.
I always liked this one, for the brief 4 seconds you see it, before she changes back into her Elvish Business Suit (Chase Dress). But I thought it looked too much like a maternity dress.
Full Length Shot of Arwen's Angel Dress, note the split overskirt

Then I got pregnant, and now I'm "It looks like a maternity dress!"
I want to combine it with her "Rose Dress" (cut from the movie), which also has a split overskirt, but a (removable?) waistband as well. I think the waistband gives much better lines.
Rose Dress Concept
Angel Dress (note when the same dress is worn by a curvier model with less wide shoulders, it cries out for a waistband)
 Here are more shots of the Rose Dress

I love the lines with the waistband

still with wb
no wb?

So, onto my plans.
This is my first installment of "Everyday Lord of the Rings Wardrobe" in other words, stuff I can actually wear to more places than Ring/Costume/Dragon/etc Con. 
Because it seems like such a rum pity to spend so much time making something beautiful, and only get to wear it 4x in your life (not counting photoshoots), and have it hang in your closet while you have to wear jeans and t shirts and modern stylish clothes you don't really love.

I want to make things, inspired enough by LOTR dresses that I feel epic, but without sleeves trailing into the stove or the toilet while I'm swishing diapers. And out of something that I can wash the baby spit up out of (and the mud and blood from arrow-wounds and adventures...)

Yeah. So. Epic and Wearable.

Onto Arwen's Angel Dress. I drew sketches until I had down the elements that I really liked from this dress.
 I really like the deep scooping beaded neckline, the empire waistband (Rose Dress), the split overskirt, and the angel-like sleeves.
From a practical perspective, I can think of 2 ways of making the skirt. Either, I can make an underskirt with a split overskirt over it, like the original. OR I can put a bit inverse-box pleat in middle of a single skirt, and top stitch the edges of the pleat (perhaps with embroidery) to hold it into that shape.
Either way, the skirts will be A line, cut with a rather large top to bottom ratio to give a lot of fullness in the hem. And I'm going to hem-stiffen it, to make the skirt stand out a little without the need for petticoats.
The bodice will be a simple empire design, fitted with darts, with a deep scoopy yoke at the top, which I will bead and embroider to my liking.

I played around with some variations, and I think I like the neck shape being a little more like the tip of an egg vs a rounded square. (compare the sketch above, with the sketch below)
Also, I tried out different sleeve looks, and while I love all 3 (angel, petal, and banded mini-tippetted sleeves), I think I like the banded mini-tippetted ones best. Kind of mini version of elf sleeves.

Practical Construction Notes
For practical (and financial) reasons, I shall make it out of cotton. Also, I  have no experience with knits. So while the original was some kind of knit, this one will be made from regular woven cotton. If I do the angel sleeves, I think I'll make them out of polyester (non shiny!) chiffon, attached to a removable underbodice, so I can wear the dress without sleeves, and handwash the chiffon separately.
The Back: zipper closure. I don't have to put a lot of fullness in the back, because the front box pleat (or under/overskirt) will accomodate my growing belly just fine.

Nursing Access.
I'll either split the front yoke (Option B), and have a seam going down the front bodice, closed with either hook n eyes, or an invisible zipper. I think an invisible zipper would be more practical, as screamingly hungry babies don't want to wait 2 minutes while you get all the hooks...we'll see.
OR I could keep the front yoke unbroken (Option A), and have the dress only sewn to it at the shoulders, and snapping underneath it when shut. 
We'll see.

Dress is coming...

1 comment:

  1. Note to self, totally do couched embroidery on the upper this for the Blood Red Dress, in gold