Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Arwen's Bloodred Gown or Requiem Gown: Planning and Studying

I was too tired to really make anything today (well, other than take the kids grocery shopping IN MY GONDOR MEI TAI CARRIER and changing diapers), so I spent up my valuable free time writing this post and looking at pictures.
(Something I have found, is if I want to actually make something, I must not connect the internet or turn on my computer that day.)

My last-priority of the 'SHB sewalong' projects (which is in fact, not for a SHB...although I suppose being a maternity version, the SHB is inside it somewhere...) was a nursing-maternity dress inspired by Arwen's Bloodred dress/Requiem dress from Lord of the Rings movies. (As I have noted before, Arwen's gowns make great maternity dresses...)

So now, a write up and analysis of all those pictures I've saved to my computer from hours and hours of wasted time on the internet, most of done years ago.

Firstly, the bloodred dress is just a better fitting (to the actress) version of the requiem dress, but in different colors.

Not falling off.
Falling off.
They're fundamentally the same except the requiem dress looks 2 sizes too big)
So I shall refer to them interchangeably.

In my hours of time wasted looking at pretty dresses research, I noticed that often costumes just look better/different when on screen on the moviestars who don't actually do the full range of movement (e.g. Arwen just sort of stood when wearing the bloodred dress. It's far too long to walk in. Or her "Bridge dress" I have heard reported that when made screen-faithfully, gapes like crazy at the neck, then again, she was just standing just so for 10 minutes during filming.)

So before actually making something from a movie, I go and look up other people's reproductions, (Here is a place to start, the alleyscratch scrapbook. You can also find the correct names for each dress on alleyscratch and just google search them, and you get fan's reproductions.)  and see which ones I think look good, and which ones I think don't. I have found it actually isn't really dependent on sewing skills or even expensive materials, but the ones
I like best interpret the "lines" of the original pieces in ways that I find both reminiscent of my favorite elements of the original, and in ways that complement the current wearer's form.
(For example, the actress for Eowyn was very slender and athletic-shaped. I think the low waist line of her shieldmaiden corset needs to be raised to be flattering on curvier girls with wider hips.)

Wasting many hours on the internet looking at cosplays of Arwen's dresses over the past few years has left me with a nice folder of pictures (this was before I joined pinterest) on my computer and a fairly good idea of which elements of her dresses I liked best, and which elements I didn't care about.

This is my favorite image of this dress...the neck, the drape, the colors, everything...

Elements I cared about:
1. Gorgeous scoop necks that emphasized the shoulders, ending almost as cap sleeves, beyond the shoulder point. Also, I like the lines of the scoop neck to be thick, with a neck band that is at the very least 2 fingers thick (preferably 3)

More Examples in her other dresses:

2. All the gorgeous embellishment and embroidery on the neck and sleeve bands...

3. Sleeve bands, at least 3 fingers thick, that mirror/match the neck embroidery. And the beautiful sleeves.... I will have to tame the length down a bit though, for actual wear-ability in my life...
I love these colors.

Elements I was willing to sacrifice
1. Silk Velvet (I don't have the budget for it. And even if I did, it would be so hard to wash, so easy to ruin, that I'd effectively never wear it anyway) And I just can't see the elves boiling little silk worms to make velvet out of...I mean I knew they weren't vegans...but dead worms are just so unpoetic...
2. colors, as long as I like my new color combinations (I really like the bloodred dress's colors though)

3. The length. I don't want to be standing in puddles of fabric. I personally don't think elves would either. They climbed trees. If anyone was part of the "conspicuous consumption" bandwagon, I think it would be Gondor, they seemed the most "high-medieval" to me. (Rohan was more Anglo-Saxony/Celticy, early medieval types. And the Dwarves were more Germanic/Viking and far too practical for standing in puddles of fabric)
4. The no-waist-definition loose drape. I like having some sort of waist, even empire waist definition. I think I shall modify this.

OK. So, here are my favorite Cosplay versions of this dress, and me analyzing the elements I think they got right.

This one is lovely. I love how she wore this with her natural hair and with a leaf-flower headband, that looks like "leaves wrought in silver" which is something elves would totally wear.
I love the wide scoop neck. The only thing I would change is I would have made the underdress yoke and the overdress yoke match more, so they give the look of a thicker, wider neck band.
Cosplay by ShadowfaxCreations "Arwen's Vigil" on deviantart
This is probably my favorite. I just love how she did the wide, deep, squarish neck band. Its just so beautiful. Her page is here.

link here

This one is so beautiful...probably really because the girl here looks like a legit elf to me, more so than any other human being I've seen. Orders of magnitude more than any of the actors in the movie did. Alas, I have no idea where I saved this one from, years ago. Again, if anyone has the link, if you share it with me so I can properly credit it, I will be grateful!
Real elves....
This next Bloodred Gown one is by Sidhe on alleyscratch. I really like the scoop of the neck, it really "makes the dress" for me. Things I would have done differently is raise the arm-band (where the lower sleeve starts) because I prefer the drape to start a few inches above the elbow for a softer silhouette.

 The link to her page is here.

This next (green) one goes to show how lines matter to be more than anything else. It's a (relatively) cheap Amazon.com costume, from poly stretch velvet with a ridiculous headpiece. And yet...they get the lines right. I like how the scoop of the jumper makes it look like there's a neck band there, and it is once again, 3 fingers thick.

Rubies Costume Company
Here is a lovely one by Farothiel. Again, besides her being gorgeous, I think what really "makes" it for me is the wide, scoop neck with thick trim. If I made it, I would thicken the trim a bit (from 2 fingers thick to 3 fingers thick)
I really like her smaller version of the movie's elven sleeves, which capture the spirit of the original.

Farothiel's "Cranberry Gown" on Deviantart
This next dark green on is TOTALLY a rip off of Arwen's Bloodred dress/Requiem dress. I think its from game of thrones. Which explains the fake medieval vibe, copying lotr, but unashamedly flaunting hairspray, modern make up, and completely modern vibe. I hate game of thrones, but Leelee is beautiful, and this dress is too.

Got it from Pinterest. Don't even know the character's name. But its Leelee Sobieski, and she's beautiful.
 This next one, it's hard to tell with her hair, but it has a nice deep wide scoop neck. If I did it, I would have altered it from the orginal, and done the jumper yoke in gold, to blend (and visually thicken) the neck band....
from Jen on Alleyscratch
Jen on Alleyscratch

Figure Notes: (Note, that the Arwen actress Liv Tyler has these gorgeous wide shoulders and upper body, which allows her to wear much deeper wider scoop necks than the average woman (that is, without actually having the dress fall off, or fall down)
What a lot of the more successful recreations do, is keep the wide visual look of the neck by having the neck band be thicker, and since its in a contrasting color, it visually gives the dress a deeper wider scoop at the neckline.

For example:
The green one is a good bit higher (in relation to her collar bone, look), and yet retains the scoop neck look by having the wide "band."

Or, in this gorgeous reproduction, she fused the neck band and the jumper yoke into a single, wide neck band that gives a deep scoop look to a neckline that is in fact much higher (and narrower, look where it ends in relation to her shoulder point) than Liv Tyler's.

Here is my sketch (done over a year ago...)
 I think now, I would even try to fuse the neck facing and the jumper yoke, like the cosplayer in the last picture did. I would probably make the yoke wider than hers though, with the edges going past the shoulder point.
More like this sketch...

I would give it an empire-waist, although without a waistband. The skirt would be a wide A-line.
I would concentrate all the embroidery (hey, I'm short on time, I think I'll do fabric paint stenciling with seed beads sewn on in a few places) on the neck band and sleeve bands.
There will be a lapped zipper in the front for nursing access. The sleeves will be, as you can see by my sketch, a lot shorter, as I intend to actually run after small human beings in it.

Maybe even climb trees.

We'll see.


  1. A quick Google image search yields this result for the unknown cosplayer: http://www.angelfire.com/nc3/hannahr_y/arwen_requiem.html

    I really like your analysis, as I follow similar trains of thought in making my costumes. Since mine aren't exact copies, but more "suggestions of" it's really interesting to see how another costumer interprets the general style lines. I originally had plans to make a nursing version of Arwen's mourning dress (since it actually has front buttons!) but it looks like I won't really have time. Boo.

    1. whenever you get to it, I can't wait to see it!

      Thank you so much for the link!! I still don't know how to search by image...I need to get on that, and join the 21st century....