Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Sarah's Ballgown (Labyrinth)

Whenever I'm asked to name my number one favourite movie of all time, I always answer straight away Labyrinth (1986). From the first time I ever saw it as a child (on Tele, translated in French), I have fantasised about the story and the characters. I use to imagine that I was the one who went to the Labyrinth. Like any other girl, I was especially drawn to David Bowie's character, even at age 6: he was frightening, and yet he had a sort of magnetism. It is because of this movie that I eventually became a fan of David Bowie's music, and as it just so happened that my Sweetheart was also a long time fan, we went to see him in concert the last time he was in Montréal. But I digress.

When I was in 8th grade, my English teacher decided to show us the movie (remember: English is my second language). I fell in love again. I bought the video with my baby-sitting money and watched it every afternoon after school for a good two months (I know every line by heart). I would wear a loose shirt and a vest over jeans, and flat leather shoes as often as I could, to dress just like Sarah (I was always a costumer). Sure my clothes were often qualified of "So last decade", but I was already a reject, so I might as well be a happy one.

In 9th grade, I even tried to make a Jareth inspired costume for a Halloween party: my mom let me use an old black silk shirt that I tried (but failed miserably) to transform into a tailcoat, which I wore over black legging and a white shirt. As a kid, my mom had made me two
jabot type accessories to wear with white shirts. They were pieces of fabric with lace sewn to them and had a buttonhole to attach them to the shirt collar. One was long and square and the other was a half circle, so I wore both for this costume. Finally, I tried to do some blue makeup on my eyes, I used my crimping iron on my hair, added some blue streaks with hair mascara. Because I had long, straight hair, it looked bad loose, so I tied them in a ponytail instead. The result was a failure of epic proportions. No one at the party could even venture a guess as to what I was supposed to be dressed as. Asked Nancy-Raven, she was there (although knowing her, she probably doesn't remember).

But of course, what every little girl who ever loved that movie really wants is the ball gown.

Jennifer Connelly as Sarah, Labyrinth (1986)

Many have tried to reproduce it, but I have never seen a version that I found resembled the original in a way I would consider satisfactory (I am very picky, I know). There are just so many layers of details! Often enough, some sort of metallic silver fabric is used for the bodice, but if you look closely enough, you'll see it is in fact silver and gold brocade (at least, it is what I believe). As for the sleeves and skirt, People tend to use iridescent organza. While I do agree that organza is the way to go, I would personally use white as I believe it would come closer to the original look.

Jennifer Connelly as Sarah, Labyrinth (1986)

In the making of, the costumes for the ball scene are described as being inspired by 18th century styles as well as Venetian Carnival costumes and masks. This might be true of some of the dancer's costume, yet, while Jareth's costumes have a much more Regency (early 19th century) look to them, whereas Sarah's dress is clearly Victorian. Just look at this great big skirt supported by a crinoline and those gigot sleeves!

David Bowie as Jareth, The Goblin King, and Jennifer Connelly as Sarah, Labyrinth (1986)

Knowing that I would one day wish to make that dress, I bought an 80's wedding dress pattern some years ago: Burda Couture #4815. The sleeves would need to be modified, but for the rest, it's a good base for this look.

Now let's all watch the Ball scene and dream once more.

Yep! Dressed in such a gown, I too would feel ready to dance with the King of Goblins!


  1. I also rate Labyrinth as my favorite film and can (and do) watch it over and over again. Although strangely, I've never liked Sarah's ballgown, and never wanted to make it. Now the *other* costumes in that dance scene...those are want, want, want!!!!!

  2. I also like the red haired lady's costume very much, and of course, Jareth's blue Bejeweled coat!

  3. Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies, too!

  4. Of course, this is one of my all-time favorite movies from childhood. Had a huge crush on David Bowie as a 6 year old too ^.~ . . . and every time I get to the scene where she's at the two doors (where one lies, and one tells the truth), I would always get mad at Sarah's stupidity, "Why didn't she choose to go UP!?"

    This resulted in a few recurring dreams where I nimbly jump over the hole myself and go straight to the castle . . . but then the movie would've been over too soon, I guess? heh

    I do recall a brilliant replica of this dress being made by a British lady who attended the Labyrinth of Jareth masquerade ball one year (2006 - I think). The sleeves were definitely right. ^.^

  5. ha the funny thing is, my idea for my prom this year is to try to replicate that look, but finding any dress even similar is so difficult! but yeah, all time favorite movie<3

  6. when i go to prom when i am older am going 2 try and get something like it already got plans and i am only 11 years old fav movie of all time big dan of David Bowie

  7. I wanted this look for my prom years ago lol. Couldn't find a dress even close and settled on just the hair. Well at the time it was like pulling teeth trying to find pictures of her from this scene and I didn't have any ribbon or anything. My hair ended up being a teased mess. It was a disaster. Took 3 hours to brush out. I tried to tell the hairdresser her hair was curled but she was having none of it. ugh. Anyway I'd love to see it if you make a replica of this. I'm planning one myself sometime in the future. I think the bodice is actually a satiny white though, not a silver. There are parts in this scene where it looks darker but I believe that is just shadow, there are other parts where it is the same tone as the skirts which leads me to think very shiny white fabric with gold accents rather than silver. I'm sure it will look great either way! =)