labricoleuse: (design)
I really fell behind in terms of sharing the projects presented by my graduate level millinery students here in the MFA program at UNC. However, now that the semester has ended, i have time to catch up!

This set of projects i'm focusing on today is the fourth project of the semester, which falls after we've covered a whole range of different media and methods for the making of millinery (yes, that's some major alliteration, i know). Basically, in theatre, milliners are occasionally asked to create headdresses or hats which mimic the hairstyles of a given period. Sometimes these creations are very natural looking with actual hair involved, but sometimes they are extremely stylized and conceptual. This is the task i set to my students for this project: to create an interpretation of a hairstyle using millinery techniques. Take a look at what they came up with!

Metallic wig-hats were an actual fad in the 1920s! Second year grad Robin Ankerich created this stylish silvertone number with various metallic fabrics/fibers, tubular horsehair braid, and a bandeau of antique sequinned fabric!

Continuing education milliner Kim Fraser used wire frames and a hemp braid of the type one normally uses in a stitched-spiral hat structure to create this fun beenhive!

Second year grad Michelle Bentley created this old-school judge's wig from Jumbo Braid, tubular horsehair, and a nylon mesh.

Continuing education milliner Athene Wright created this interpretation of a traditional Qing Dynasty headdress using buckram, wire, felt, Jumbo Braid, acrylic, and various decor.

Second year grad Erin Torkelson created both of these fun drag wigs from lime-green neoprene foam.

First year grad Danielle Soldat created this flame-goddess-inspired updo from metallic floral ribbon and wire.

Playmakers Repertory Company Wardrobe Supervisor Ana Walton created this fantastic style with, no lie, craft felt and tissue paper. And a feather.

Back view

Such great work, no? Yet to come: final projects....
labricoleuse: (design)

I recently received my copy of 18th Century Hair & Wig Styling: History & Step-by-Step Techniques by Kendra Van Cleave, and i seriously can't say enough good things about this fantastic new resource volume. It's a full-color, 298-page, 8"x10" book, very professionally produced and packed full of fantastic information about a range of 18th century hairstyles, including those intimidatingly-large "Marie Antoinette" styles.

Ms. Van Cleave is a costumer, yes, but she is also a fashion historian and academic librarian, and the depth of her research and knowledge really shines through in the first section of the book, on the history of the styles in question. It's clear that she's not only done exhaustive research on hair of the period, but also tracked down and reproduced a wealth of visual research from portraits and other paintings, fashion plates, and illustrations of 18th century primary sources.

The second section of the book is called Techniques, and focuses on the practical terms, tools, products, and so forth needed to create these styles. If you have little or no experience styling hair and/or wigs, this section will get you up to speed on not just the basics, but also topics like making your own wefts, adding hair into wigs, creating structures/foundations/rats, and so forth. It also includes info on powdering hair and wigs, and a lot of great photographs documenting the styling methods discussed.

The third section, Finished Styles, is the most exciting step-by-step how-to overview of exactly how to do 22 different ladies' styles and three men's. If you've done much historical research on hairstyles of the 18th century, you'll recognize some of the most iconic ones (giant ship atop giant hair, anyone?). These are shown in a tutorial layout--instructions and photographs illustrating each step of the way, from an initial photo showing the model's actual unstyled hair and/or the unstyled wig beforehand, through to the finished look.

There's an extensive bibliography, a list of sources for wigs as well as style/product names for those used in the projects depicted, and even a tutorial on making a wig bag for men's styles that need one.

The book was clearly a labor of love--produced with help from a Kickstarter campaign, self-published, and as best i can tell, only available directly from the author at the book's website. At the $50 price point, i'm sure there'll be some grumbling at not being able to take advantage of bookstore gift certificates to purchase it, but I can assure you, it's well worth the money. I'm just thrilled that it came out in time for me to use it in my upcoming millinery and wig seminar!
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
A collaborative project on this show between myself and Candy McClernan was this fun pink feathered "bob" for the character of Rosie, one of the Kit Kat Girls, who is played by Maren Searle. These kinds of close-fitting hairstyle-esque hats were popular in the nightclubs of the time, and are made from hackle pads.

For this project, we didn't have a rendering to work from on the hat; instead we had a research image provided by designer Jen Caprio:
Read more... )
labricoleuse: (Default)
I neglected to post these images of two more wig projects from my millinery class, but i think they are worth the wait!

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (design)
My millinery class presented their third round of projects today, of which i have three images to share: a Muppet wig, a steampunk-dreadlock creation, and a commodore dog hat. The premise of the project is to address a costume element which relates to hair, but which in theatre would not be solved by traditional wigmaking. Students use millinery principles and craftwork techniques to create a wearable object.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (Default)
My millinery students presented projects today!

This past unit has been focused on the execution of historical hairstyle shapes and silhouettes, often using millinery infrastructures and nontraditional media (i.e., not actual wigs, frequently also not actual hair).

hats that look like hairstyles )
labricoleuse: (manga avatar)
The class i'm teaching this semester is actually entitled "Millinery and Wigs" in the course catalog, and as such, part of my responsibility in the class is to cover the topic of wigs. I give a lecture on wig and hair-related topics--an overview of things like how various kinds of hair extensions are installed, the differences between wig types (like, how a lace-front wig differs from a skin-top wig), types of hair used in wigs and hairpieces and the like. I don't have them make any traditionally-constructed wigs or hairpieces, because I don't feel that a project of that sort would make sense in the context of our program. (If a student were particularly interested in making ventilated lace-front wigs, i would point them towards a summer job in the wig department of somewhere like the Utah Shakespeare Festival or similar. And if they were interested in it career-wise, they wouldn't be in our program, which doesn't offer a graduate concentration in wigs and makeup.)

What i do ask them to consider in terms of a project, is the concept of wig/hat hybrids--ways in which you might solve structural or elaborate period hairstyle shapes using principles of millinery construction and other crafts artisanship skills. (The "Bawd" hairdo from the recent PRC Pericles production is a good real-life example of what i'm talking about here.)

This project is always a lot of fun because it's definitely one where there are an infinite number of possibilities--in hairstyle options, materials used, ways to achieve looks. I did the project along with them, so the first set of photos behind the cut show my step-by-steps, then at the end are pictures of the students' projects as well.

Read more... )
labricoleuse: (supershakespeare)
Tonight is Opening Night for Pericles, so it's time for an overview post of the work that came through the Costume Crafts department on this show! This post doesn't include every single item we worked on, but it does cover quite a few...

First, let me offer my usual disclaimer that all of the images and information that i share in this blog is strictly by permission of the artists, artisans, designers, and companies that i work for. I have worked under non-disclosure contracts and the pieces i have produced in those jobs have not appeared on this blog nor been discussed. I have had some inquiries about the legality of "behind the scenes"-style blogging--when i write about PlayMakers shows and the UNC graduate program, it is with their knowledge and permission.

Now that that's out of the way, let's go! (Lots of images behind cut-tag.) )
labricoleuse: (silk painting)
One technique that a painter/dyer can employ to subtly improve the look of stage costumes is called toning, painting into the garment or piece to increase the contrast and value, to enhance its contours and make it "punch" under stage lights. Often, lighting will flatten textural elements but judicious toning can counterbalance that.

images of toning using wool roving livery wigs )
labricoleuse: (hats!)
Part One of this series addressed hairline tracing, wig ventilation, and mocking up a coal-scuttle bonnet.

Part Two dealt with setting the wig and covering the buckram base of the bonnet.

Here's how the whole thing turned out, trimming and styling!

photos galore! )
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
As you may recall from past posts, my millinery class' most recent unit was on wig/hat hybrids--wigs either composed from nontraditional materials or utilizing millinery precepts, or both. The students presented their projects this past week, and i thought my readership might like seeing some of the photographs of their finished work.

three of the projects... )

And, for fans of men's hats, here is an interesting article on social significance of men's hats, excerpted from the book Fashion and Its Social Agendas: Class, Gender, and Identity in Clothing by Diana Crane. Pretty facinating reading!
labricoleuse: (hats!)
Recall my post of a couple weeks back on a joint project between myself and wig maker Jaime Blinn-Bagley on lace-front wig making and 1830s coal-scuttle bonnet construction. Looks like what i thought was going to be a two-part series is going to actually extend to three parts, so here's the long-awaited Part Two.

In case you missed the first post, we chose some historical research from the 1830s and are building in-tandem a wig to be styled in the Apollo knot hairstyle and a bonnet to be worn over the hairstyle. We left off with the wig production at the stage just before ventilation: the headwrap and hairline tracing had happened, the wig to be refronted had been prepared for lace-fronting, and the wig lace had been cut to shape and attached to the wig.

Bonnet construction had left off on the cliffhanger of buckram shape approval--a wired paper mockup had been created, fitted, and the pattern altered to reflect changes that came from the mockup fitting.

So what's next? )
labricoleuse: (Default)
There are so many periods in history where hair and wigs are absolutely essential to the general silhouette of the human figure. What're Restoration-era men to do without perukes? How do you have Chancery barristers without barrister wigs? Can you hope to present pre-Revolutionary French royalty without giant white ringlety pompadours full of flowers and birds and such on your ladies' heads?

And, all too often there's simply not enough money in a theatre's costume budget to allow for building or renting quality wigs in these types of elaborate period styles. When the second installment of the 1830s wig/hat project gets done, you'll see more about what goes into such a thing, and hopefully have a better idea why handmade lace-front wigs cost as exorbitantly as they do. The topic i want to address in this post though is, how can you still pay visual homage to these kinds of wig issues, yet solve them inexpensively through good craft artisanship? Skill and creativity can solve these problems by thinking outside the wigbox.

Recall my previous post on period wigs from wool roving...or, if you missed it the first time around, check it out. Roving is one possible "hair substitute" in making these kinds of "wig-hats".

images of other solutions )
labricoleuse: (hats!)
Another of my long-term projects has gotten to a point that it's worth posting a midstream overview: 1830's hats & hairdos!

I'm doing this project in tandem with our wig master, Jaime Blinn-Bagley. Jaime is giving a guest lecture on lace-backed facial hair and hand-ventilated lace-front wigs to my millinery class.

The students are almost finished with a unit on buckram hat foundations and the next unit is all about wigs, how hats interact with hair, and hairstyles that are really more like hats (i.e., huge 18th c. Madame de Pomadour wigs with buckram infrastructures). If you want to cruise through a cool photogallery that illustrates more on this topic, check out these photographs of the crowns made for Dior's fall 2004 collection, where the crowns have wire foundations for the hairdos built onto them.

Jaime and i decided to choose a period in which hairstyles and hat shapes influenced one another; Jaime would front a wig and style it in the period style, while i simultaneously built a hat designed to be worn with the wig/style. In this way, she would be able to show my class the process of fronting a wig, and i'd be able to document how a milliner takes hair and wigs into consideration during the construction of a hat. So what'd we choose?

1830s: Coal scuttle bonnet with Apollo knot updo! )
labricoleuse: (Default)
I didn't make either of these, i just found them while cleaning out the wig cabinet in a drawer marked "Non-hair wigs" and thought i'd share them with y'all, since they're pretty creatively constructed!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
pastel-dyed livery wig made from unspun wool

two more photographs and construction postulating... )
labricoleuse: (vintage hair)
[Reviews are written from the particular perspective of a costume crafts artisan, and thus focus largely on technical and aesthetic aspects of costume craft items and properties.]

It's been a while since i've posted--my contract ended at Utah Shakes and I've had to make my way back easterly (by way of a quick dogleg over to Las Vegas) and get resettled back into life out here in North Carolina. While in Vegas i got to go see Cirque de Soleil's Ka, and a review of that is forthcoming, as soon as i figure out exactly how to handle posting imagery from the show without, you know, getting my trou sued off. Expect to read that within the week, since i don't start back up at the theatre for another week.

But, I open with a digression. The point was to write about Anglo-Mania, the mind-blowingly brilliantly-composed exhibit which the Costume Institute has running at the Met through September 4, 2006.

I had heard about this exhibit from some friends who'd been to see it (rave reviews) and had the good fortune to be in New York this past weekend (strictly unprofessional reasons--i was there to see Lucero play a booze-cruise show on a sail around Manhattan), so i had to go check it out.

The Met in and of itself is always just a little overwhelming to me--I know I could spend a whole week in there and still not see everything. I remember as a kid loving that E. L. Konigsburg novel, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and fantasizing about running away like those kids in that book and living in the Met. Just know that i am forcing myself to stay on-topic here, and write only about this Costume Institute exhibit, and not the 293874234 other things that are mind-blowingly excellent at the Met (such as the staggering Kara Walker exhibit, "Deluge,", which closed yesterday).

From the intro paragraph emblazoned on the wall outside the exhibit: Through the lens of fashion, "AngloMania" examines aspects of English culture that have fueled the European and American imagination, such as class, sport, royalty, pageantry, eccentricity, the English gentleman, and the English country garden. [...] Traditionally, the presentation of costume in period rooms follows strict formal and chronological guidelines. "AngloMania" upends and disrupts these guidelines, merging the old with the new, sometimes in a single outfit, to reveal a conceptual continuum of ideas of Englishness.

As you approach the galleries where AngloMania is installed, you see a large archway, flanked by mannequins cast in a milky-translucent resin. These mannequins are cartoonishly punk--enormous technicolor mohawks and gafftape and torn Union Jacks and clompy Doc Martens. I admit, i got my snob on right off the bat, being overly critical of the admittedly-poor distressing job on the clearly-brand-new gently-scuffed boots...but, that was quickly dispelled by the very first installation: a mannequin, his safety-orange rocker-wig dunked in acrylic medium and sculpted to look like he was standing in a high wind, staring into a gilt ornamentally-framed 17th-century mirror. The mannequin was clad in a frock coat of David Bowie's, made from Union Jack fabric, distressed with burns and rips and in one place something that...well, appeared to be ejaculate. I set off the alarm accidentally by energetically pointing out this particular stain to my companion. Oops.

The second room is the English Garden, which is in fact a delapidated, poorly-lit grim parlor hung with swags of rotted-looking curtains across windows behind which is projected the looped film and sounds of a drenching rainstorm. The models in this room were all female mannequins in 18th-century mantuas and robes a l'anglaise made from Spitalfields silk brocades. The women wear on their heads Philip Treacy hats shaped and dyed to look like enormous vaginal-shaped orchid blossoms. They are all posed as if they are listlessly wandering around a central figure, clad in a tulle dress by Hussein Chalayan, created by the attachment of thousands of tulle rosettes to a conical-shaped understructure and then trimmed and shaped like a topiary.

I was remarking to my friend that the garden room reminded me of the general production-design aesthetic deployed in The Libertine (you know, the grim Rochester costume-drama in which Johnny Depp's nose rots off), when we entered the next room, entitled "Upstairs/Downstairs"--servant figures juxtaposed with nobility figures--and there on the wall was the original famous portrait of the Earl of Rochester himself, with his capering monkey. Ha! The two "maids" were clad in Chalayan ensembles that looked to be remade/cobbled-together vintage collage-dresses, while the two nobles wore a silk velvet and marquesite court suit and a satin and voided-velvet Worth gown trimmed in ostrich feathers and rhinestones. A manservant stood by in 19th-c. livery, which of course looks like extremely absurd and overtrimmed 18th-c. menswear.

The next room was called "The Hunt," and featured hunting- and riding-inspired ensembles on mannequins astride horse-mannequins, accompanied by dog-mannequins. I have to say, this room was somewhat boring compared to everything else, the only truly remarkable piece being a dusty-purple gown loosely based on a riding habit by Vivian Westwood. The fabric was woven so that it alternated matte and shiny satin stripes, and the entire skirt was caught up in the front to show the wearer's legs as she sat sidesaddle. A guy-mannequin in newsprint-screened stretchpants and a Galliano jockstrap was somewhat amusing as well.

Through an archway and into the next room, we were metaphorically punched in the teeth by the display entitled "The Deathbed." In this room a male mannequin lay in an enormous ornately-canopied 17th-c. bed, clad in a red tartan ensemble and something resembling a gimp-mask with an enormous cast-aluminum "jawbone" along the lower portion of it. A death-figure stood at the foot of the bed in a black glitter-encrusted stiff canvas gown, her torso encased in a cast-aluminum item described in the program as "Spine Corset." And yep, that's pretty much what it was--rib-like spidery bone-limbs that encircled her torso with an enormous vertebral spine running up the back, all brightly shining metal. Oh, and a pair of Manolo Blahniks. Two mannequins were positioned as "mourners," one in a black silk gown of Queen Victoria's and the other in a mesh and taffeta distressed crazy Alexander McQueen creation.

To either side of this room were tiny alcoves which together formed an installation called "Empire and Monarchy," both containing single mannequins wearing Vivian Westwood gowns--one inspired by a painting of Queen Elizabeth I and the other by a photograph of Queen Elizabeth II. The most interesting thing about these was the silver-wire choker on the QEI mannequin, which had set into it instead of oblong jewels these glass vials full of dubious-looking liquid. A perusal of the info card revealed that the necklace contained urine and semen.

Then another single-mannequin pair of installations entitled "Francomania," the first of which ("Tradition") contained a mannequin in that iconic Worth dress of white silk satin with the black silk voided velvet patterned like some kind of wrought-iron fencework. The other part of this section, "Transgression," was somehow even more holy-crappish than the "Deathbed" tableau. It featured a single female mannequin in an enormously-trained and -bustled black silk taffeta Galliano/Dior gown, clearly patterned after mourning dresses with all the ruched ribbon applique and the like. The mannequin's hand was outstretched and a huge crow perched on her arm. On her head was a black feathered hood completely covering her face, with a thin beak hooking out from it like some kind of Punchinello nose. She was surrounded by antique porcelain figurines of birds, and from behind the false windows came the raucous sounds of a murder of crows cawing.

The next room was an enormous space entitled "The Gentleman's Club." It was divided into two parts: "Tradition: The Gentleman" and "Transgression: The Dandy and the Punk." These were all mishmashed together such that you had a few clusters of men in worsted suits posing around humidors and valet cases and the like, right beside a trainwreck of mohawked punks in smoking jackets and those McLaren t-shirts with the gay cowboys and the defaced Queen and the like. The mannequins' mohawks were made from all kinds of strange objects: tampons and cigarettes and Barbie legs arranged on felt bases in fin shapes. The best part about this room was the juxtaposition of a white-tie evening suit formerly belonging to the Duke of Windsor, beside a torn plaid coat once owned by Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

The final room was called "The Hunt Ball," in which mannequins appeared to be waltzing together, the men in 1970s hunting ensembles and the women in modern haute couture gowns based on late 19th-c. silhouettes--silk satins and brocades and froths of striped organdies, bustles and petticoats, Galliano and Westwood and McQueen, with ladies tricornes by Stephen Jones and uncredited but artfully-done enormous Madame de Pompadour-style wigs in cotton-candy colors.

Giddy from the prospect of poor stitchers and cutters dealing with all that stripe-matching on the skirt panels of the gowns, we sailed through the double doors into...some random room full of dishes and crap and a sign that said High Tea was available in the cafe for those wishing to prolong their AngloMania experience. This, i think, was my main criticism of the exhibit in fact--for something so creatively conceived and put-together and executed, so clearly artistically planned, not much thought was lent to the egress. No warning, no enormous over-the-top here's-the-end summary piece de resistance. It was like being at a completely-nuts stage-diving beer-throwing mosh-pit of a rock show, and right as the band is really getting going on a roll of awesome songs and energy and danger, someone cuts off all the sound and says, "Ok folks, that's it, clear out."

All in all, though, if you can possibly get to NYC to see this exhibit, do so. The hats and wigs alone would be worth it, but all blendered together in this rich soupy goulash of OMG, it'd be a bargain at twice-admission.

December 2016

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