Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weasley Jumper

Look what my Mom made me for Christmas:

Gwenyver's Weasley Jumper

My very own Weasley Jumper. Okay, so she finished it a bit after Christmas (I got it yesterday), but it just makes the Holidays longer! I've wanted one for awhile now, but while I can do anything with a sewing machine, I couldn't knit if my life depended on it (well, I'd probably manage to learn if that was the case). Don't ask me how she made it, I don't have a clue. All I know is I am now the proud owner of a Weasley Jumper!

By the way, if you've been reading this wondering what the heck is a Weasley Jumper, let me explain briefly: it is a home made sweater made by Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter books. Every year, she knits one for each member of her family to give as Christmas presents. They can vary in colour, but they always have the wearer's initial on the front.

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

The Weasley Twins say they are lovely and warm. I can tell you mine is very comfy the way big sweaters are (I think it could fit another me if I stretched it enough).

Thanks Mom!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Yukata Kitsuke

I guess it is still Japanese week in my brain. I did try to think of something different to write today, but then I thought "Why should I?". First off, I have a cold and can't think straight, and besides, the original raison d'être of this blog is to give me an outlet to share all my crazy costuming thoughts day to day (there is a limit to how much my Sweetheart, and even Nancy-Raven, want to hear about them).

Anyways, I'm sure many of you will like this little find. You see, as much as I love Kimono, I have never actually worn one (well, other that my
Purple Haori, and even that one does not often see the light of day). As I mentioned when I presented my Kimono Collection back in August, I don't have all that is needed to properly wear a Kimono. There is also the fact that without practice, dressing oneself in a Kimono is not all that easy.

So today I was looking for videos that show how to properly put on a Kimono and I found this amazingly well made one by Ichiroya. It is a sample of their Kimono Dressing With Yuka DVD, and it shows how to put on a Yukata, or Cotton Summer Kimono, and tie a Bunko bow with a Hanhaba Obi, a half with Obi worn with a Yukata. The explanations are all in English, but there are also captions in English and Japanese, and it shows you everything slowly enough and with close-ups that you'll feel you can't screw it up.

Part 1:

Part 2:

After seeing that video, I am itching to try my hand at wearing my own Yukata. Surely I can replace the Koshihimo with twill tape for the moment. The Datejime might be a little trickier, but I will surely manage.

I have a sudden urge to go sew my Valentine Yukata. See ya!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Kyoto Costume Institute

I don't know about you, but I love to travel. One place I dream of visiting is Kyoto, Japan, and not just for Gion (the most famous Geisha District of that city), but also for The Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI).

Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century, Taschen Books, 2007

My aunt M. got me the Fashion History Books by Taschen on one of their trips to France (and by the way, this is the book my Mom got me this Christmas that I returned, yet she was with my aunt when she bought the book). It is full of absolutely beautiful costume pictures, all from The Kyoto Costume Institute. So of course, I want to go there!

Robe et Habit à la Française, pages 68-69, Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century Vol. 1

Would it surprise you to learn that my favourite book is the first volume, which is about 18th and 19th Century fashion? I didn't think so.

Hairdos and Robes à l'Anglaise, pages 110-111, Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century Vol. 1

Even though it is is situated in Japan, KCI collects Western Clothing for studying purposes. The idea is that clothing is intertwined with everyday life, and so by studying one we may understand the other better. I couldn't agree more. Their collection ranges from the 17th century to the present time, which means that under one roof you an find perfectly preserved clothes and underpinnings that could have been worn by Versailles courtesans or made by Jeanne Lanvin.

Revolution in Fashion 1715-1815, The Kyoto Costume Institute

KCI only holds small-scale exhibitions at its own KCI Gallery, as the space of the gallery is 86m². The pieces shown are carefully selected from the collection.

The permanent collection of the KCI is not on public view, but they often organize exhibitions that travel to museums around the world. For instance, the Revolution in Fashion 1715-1815 exhibit was shown at the Palais du Louvres in Paris, France, in the early 90's (under the name Élégances et Modes en France au XVⅢème Siècle).

Luxury in fashion Reconsidered, The Kyoto Costume Institute

If like me you are not about to go there, you can still visit their Digital Archive where you will find good quality pictures of a few chosen pieces for each period. Thank goodness for Internet!

I should start a Costumer's travel agency, so I could organize tours around themes and museums. I wonder if it would catch on?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Sayuri's Winter Dance

I guess I'm in an Asian mood these days so yesterday I watched Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). For any Kimono lover, this movie is filled with wonder. Of course, the hairstyles are all wrong, but lets not go there. In this entire movie, the only costume I would like to reproduce as is is Sayuri's Winter Dance Kimono.

Now I have to admit that when I first saw that sequence at the theatre, and not having read the book, I felt awful for the character because I thought her dance was so ridiculous that she had just made a fool of herself, especially when no one reacted at the end. But as my parents say, 'the movie guy fixed it' ("C'est arrangé avec le gars des vues"). I love Japanese culture so much that there are many "artistic licences" I hated in the movie.

But back to the costume that I would love to make for a Japanese oriented Convention such as Otakuthon or Anime North.

Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

I have pondered for a long time on the making of this costume. To make it, I would need a white and silver Uchikake (coat) with Crane design and red lining and padded hem, a silver white Furisode with a splash light blue from the hem up and on the lower part of the sleeves, an under kimono, or juban, with red skirt and red trimmed sleeves, and a white Obi (sash) trimmed in violet.

Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

There are two main accessories that Sayuri uses during her dance. The first is her parasol. It is made of sheer black fabric and painted with what I believe are tree designs. As I don't expect to be able to find a parasol that fits perfectly with the look, I expect I will have to make my own buy getting a cheap paper one and replacing said paper by the right fabric which I would then paint.

Costumes of Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) at the FIDM Museum

The second important accessory is the stilt like Geta (sandals) that she comes on stage with. Watching the making of, I have heard people refer to them and mentioning different heights. Apparently, they are somewhere between 8 inches and a foot high. I would also have to make these. This means a block of wood for each foot which will need to be cut in the shape of a rectangular truncated pyramid. The top stays a natural wood color, but the sides are painted black and lacquered, and as these shoes are hollow (can you imagine the weight if they weren't?), the interior is painted red and also lacquered. Then I'd need a pair of black velvet hanao to slip my toes in.

A little tidbit of information for you: Maiko wear tall geta called Okobo. Okobo are made of wood with no finish, but the summer Okobo are lacquered black, were as for this costume, the black lacquered geta are for a winter dance.

Oiran Geta

By the way, such sandals are not actually used by anyone in Japan. The closest match are the geta worn by Oiran, but these are not full blocks as you can see from the picture.

Ziyi Zhang as Sayuri, Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

I would also invest in a black wig for this costume; somehow, I don't think my blond mane would have the same effect (but I would like to make a Beach Blond Geisha costume someday).

The hairdo is quite simple: a small ponytail wrapped in red silk on top of the head and the rest of the hair is down.

Finally, there is the issue of makeup. Geisha makeup is snow white and covers the face, neck and shoulders, but there is about a centimetre of skin showing around the face as well as two points on the neck. I'll need help to paint myself. Other than that, it is red lips, black kohl and red eyeliner. Simple enough!

Now my only question is do I make the Kimono and Obi or do I buy vintage ones? Do I only buy the Uchikake? I know I could find a vintage one to fit my needs. Needless to say, the cost of making this costume means I'm not about to make it. But I can dream!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Costumes on the Red Carpet: 67th Golden Globe® Awards

As promised, here is my report on the Star's Red Carpet dresses as seen at the 67th Golden Globe® Awards last Sunday. As usual, they are in no specific order (but I do tend to keep the ones I like the most for the end).

Note: All pictures were borrowed from ET Online for costume study purposes.

Tina Fey on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

Tina Fey's dress is a mix between a 1950's Cocktail dress and some Victorian underwear (Crinoline). Cute, but not really my cup of tea.

Mo'Nique on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

What is an Award show in Hollywood without a Classical Dress! And by Classical, I don't mean that it's a classic (which of course it is); I'm talking about the original sense of the term, meaning inspired by the Ancient World.

Toni Colette on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

Now this dress I like. The shape and pattern is very reminiscent of the 1930's and the Art Deco movement.

Anna Kendrick on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

This could make a nice Snow/Ice Queen dress...

Kate Hudson on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

Asymmetrical, futuristic designs are very trendy right now, just as platform shoes are. I wonder then, since Kate Hudson looks like she has just walked off a Runway, why some supposed "Fashion Experts" have bashed her outfit? Just a thought.

Personally, I call this outfit "Deep Space Bride". (For those who need me to paint a picture, it's a pun on Deep Space Nine - duh!)

AnnaLynne McCord on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

This dress looks like it came from a Manga! Just look at the impossible Décolleté!

Diane Kruger on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

Ah! What a pretty spring flower. But it's only January!

Cher on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

You can always count on Cher to wear something outrageous, but I seriously would wear that dress. I love the asymmetry, the mix of lacing with antique looking lace, and the pointed bodice. It is Steampunk Goth on the Red Carpet.

Drew Barrymore on the red Carpet of the 67th Golden Globe® Awards

"It's a bloody coral reef!" That was my instant reaction when I saw this dress. I'm not too sure about the one on the hip, which looks more like a half bumroll, but you have to admire the workmanship! Wish I knew how to make that. I bet Drew is thinking "Some form of rock - Check!" (Yes, I know coral is actually not a rock, it's a living organism).

Now I want to conclude on a more serious note. Did you notice the ribbons many of the stars wore? They were to show support for Haiti. I haven't mentioned last week's Earthquake on this Blog be cause I frankly didn't know what to say. After all, I'm always talking about fun things relating to costumes, and there is nothing fun about a disaster such as that one. Haiti was already not all that strong politically and economically before, but now they are completely beaten down by the events. So I take this occasion to encourage all my readers to find a way to help. My Sweetheart and I have chosen to give money to two charities: the Red Cross, for immediate support, and Oxfam to help rebuild once the crisis is over. Lets count our blessings and help those in need; costumers are generous people too!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Movie Monday: The Tooth Fairy

Well it is still kind of slow Costume wise for new movies. All I have to offer you this week is this comedy coming out on Friday: The Tooth Fairy (2010).

Who ever thought we would one day see Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in a satin shirt, tights and wings!

Stephen Merchant as Tracy, Dwayne Johnson as Derek and Julie Andrews as Lily, The Tooth Fairy (2010)

Making a pair of wings is a skill all costumers should learn to do (I have never personally made some, but my parents made me a pair for a bee costume when I was 5 and they have been used sporadically for angel costumes by other members of the family since); after all, Something with wings is on the Compulsory Costume List! Most wing making techniques require the use of metal wire for the frame (a metal hanger will do perfectly), nylons or tights for the wings, which are easy to slip over your frame, but you could also use fabric that you would sew to the wire, and shoulder straps for you to wear your wings.

Or you can be lazy and buy a pretty nice pre-made pair for about 10$ - 15$. Your choice!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kimono Dress

Tonight is the Golden Globes; I can't wait to see all the pretty Red Carpet dresses. I promise to come back on them on Tuesday.

In the mean time, let's talk Evening Wear. I want to show you the work of Anna Niponica, an online store that transforms Kimono into dresses. After all, why wear a plain satin dress when you can show off in something that gorgeous! Plus, you know that in my mind Kimono equals costume.

This is what they do: they take an Uchikake or Furisode (recommended for dresses with trains because of the long hanging sleeves), they unfold it and press it before transforming it into a breathtaking gown.

Tube Top Mermaid Dress - Front

Tube Top Mermaid Dress - Back

If you don't have enough fabric, or if you like the look, satin can be used for the bodice.

Tube Top Flared Dress - Front

Tube Top Flared Dress - Back

A custom made dress like those cost over 2300$, and that excludes the price of the original Kimono, the shipping, and many options such as lining and the cute Obi bow in the back.

If you are a decent seamstress, you can always make your own. First, you'll need fabric: you can find a vintage Uchikake for 150$ (or you can pay a lot more).

Uchikake with Cranes and Pine Branches - Yamatoku Vintage Kimono, 270$

But if you are like me, you could never conceive of harming such a beautiful piece (especially at that price!). So I suggest another option: Kimono fabric. Some online stores, such as Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya, sell kimono fabric on bolts.

Graceful Flying Crane Pattern Silk Bolt for Girl's Kimono - Kimono Flea Market Ichiroya, 78$

It probably won't be as embroidered and as patterned, but at least cutting it won't break your heart. Do keep in mind when thinking of the pattern for your evening gown that Kimono Fabric is only 36 cm wide. Length can vary: for a girls kimono, you will find bolts of 8 metres to 10 metres of fabric, where as and adult kimono fabric bolt can have 13 metres of material. Be sure to check this before you order.

Definitely, when I'm nominated for Best Costume at the Academy Awards (or another important Red Carpet Award event), that's what I'll make myself. Guess I have a few years to wait then.