The idea for this costume began when an old professor of mine found out I was working with Frightful Acts as a costumer. She owned a gallery a couple towns over and requested that I think about submitting a costume to her upcoming Halloween show "Things That Go Bump in the Night." The deadline for submission was only a couple weeks away so I needed to not only come up with an idea fast but make it one that would be quick to put together. Eventually the idea to make a more historically accurate version of the villainess Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty came to mind. I had already made a medieval houppelande that would be appropriate for the time period the movie takes place in so I wouldn't need to do much research or draft any new patterns. So with just one short weekend to sew the dress I set to work.
|Detail of the fabric used|
I found a great faux-alligator skin fabric in the upholstery section that I thought would work well for Maleficent since she becomes a dragon at the end of the movie. It makes the dress fairly heavy and hot to wear but it looks stunning. I also managed to find two perfect shades of purple to match Maleficent's original color pallet. I decided to use the lighter shade of purple for the kirtle to go under the houppelande.
|The fairly basic Kirtle|
A darker shade of purple became the lining of the sleeves. I decided that the sleeves should be dagged since Maleficent's original design definitely shows the influence of dagged sleeves. I also wanted to cut the neck with the deep V seen in later houppelande examples so that the kirtle color would show when the dress was on a mannequin. As I looked at more examples of houppelande's I began to realize that dagged sleeves seemed to have dropped out of fashion before the V-neck became popular though. In the end I decided to just go ahead with my plans since this was more of a character costume than a strict historical recreation.
|Detail of the dagged sleeves|
A bit of fur trim and a jeweled belt completed the dress, and then it was on to the hat. I was actually able to find an old fashion plate with a hat that had two curled horns just like Maleficent's, but of course I've lost the link. I was going to put a veil on the hat since almost all historical examples had one, but after some advice to keep it more like the character I left it out. The day it was due at the gallery I managed to whip up a stuffed head to support the hat, and the dress looked great!
|A view of the train with fur trim|
I dropped it off at the gallery feeling pretty good about it. Most of the work submitted was your traditional types of fine art, but there were a few other sculpture submissions, and the owner of the gallery had specifically asked for a costume from me. A couple days later I got an e-mail telling me that the artist curating the show had "decided against having costumes in the exhibit." I was crushed. I had spent hundreds of dollars on cloth and given up a whole weekend at the request of my professor all for nothing.
As luck would have it though I had used the same color pallet for a costume made for one of Frightful Acts masks. I brought the dress by the studio and the rest of the guys loved it. The dress now has a new home as one of our monsters, and it looks like it was made just for the mask.
All in all I am very pleased with how the dress came out. It's a bit too big for me though and it's hard to wear as a costume at conventions because of the train getting stepped on by the crowd. It looks good in our repertoire for now but ultimately I'd like to find a buyer for the dress who really loves it and would actually get some use out of it.