Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Lady Gaga "Telephone" Phenomenon

Thursday, Lady GaGa's new music video, Telephone, took the world by storm. Some have said it's the biggest, most important video since Michael Jackson's Thriller. I don't know about that, but it is truly artistic, original, and one big marketing campaign for Virgin Mobile, Diet Coke, Miracle Whip and more (Ah, product placement... did I mention I have a degree in publicity? This is a dream come true for any brand). But more important than the hidden publicity was the large number of outrageous outfits worn throughout the video (and the reason I'm gaga for GaGa!).

Found at TrendLand were the following pictures and their fashion design credentials. (For the original article, go to
Telephone by Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé [Fashion Credits])

Custom made crime scene tape by Brian Lichtenberg

Kind of reminds you of Leeloo's white tape outfit in The Fifth Element (1997).

Custom made outfit by Jean Charles de Castelbajac, sunglasses by Mercura

I doubt this style will ever be adopted by any penal establishment.

Custom made chain and jumpsuit by Viktor & Rolf, cigarette sunglasses and shoes by Haus of GaGa

My eyes itch when someone smokes within five metres of me; can you imagine having that many cigarettes BY YOUR EYES?!

Vintage sunglasses by Chanel

Some classics are classics for everyone.

Studded jacket by Search and Destroy

In keeping with a current trend, but oh! so over the top for anyone but her.

Studded outfits by Haus of GaGa

I bet you that would ruin a silk shirt.

Vintage hat and outfit by Thierry Mugler

Oh my, she's covered! She almost looks like a regular posh lady! (Except for the yellow hair.) I love black and white together, and I love hats. This is my favourite outfit of thw

e video.

Telephone hat by Fred Butler

See, everyone needs turquoise!

Hat and dress by Rachel Barrett telephone hair piece by Danilo

Again, I am reminded of the aesthetics in The Fifth Element (1997). I wonder if she gets inspired by that movie sometimes...

Lady GaGa outfit by Haus of GaGa, boots by Christian Louboutin; Beyoncé outfit by Oscar Olima

I guess I could call that look Trash Wonder Woman?

Leopard outfit by Haus of GaGa

If your cab driver ever looks like that, wait for the next one!

Cowboy hat outfits by Emilie Pirlot

I guess that's a Texan burqa?

For those interested, you can watch the video and see all of those weird costumes and other little details in movement. Enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

How to Dress in 18th century style

It's not always easy to know how to put on and wear clothes from another era (see yesterday's post Pockets!). With this in mind, I thought I might share with you the proper way to get dressed in 18th century style.

The following
article comes from an amazing website, La Couturière Parisienne. It is well illustrated and better than anything I could do (since I cheat in my 18th century design by using hook & eye tape for the front closure). I did re-word some of the passages to make them clearer, in my perception, but it is very close to the original, to which I give all the credit.

How to Dress in 18th century style

For decency reasons, we start with a lady who already wears her shift, cap and stockings. Can't be having pictures of women without a cap on, now, can we!

The over-knee stockings are fastened with garters just below the knee. (To learn why it is tied below the knee and not above it, see The Stocking Page at La Couturière Parisienne.)

If she hasn't done so yet, the lady now has to put on her shoes, unless she intends to wear mules (as she does here) or has a maid who will fasten the
shoe buckles. As soon as she has the stays on, she will hardly be able to bend down to fasten them herself.

Now would be the time to tie on the decency skirt or under-petticoat. (In the pictures, it was left out for simplicity reasons.)

Then, the stays come on. Remember to use spiral lacing! Before tightening the lace, pull the shift straight so that its neckline sits just right. See to it that the shift fabric is distributed evenly all around. (Find more information about putting on stays here.)

Next come the pocket hoops. Pocket hoops are a smaller variant of the hoop skirt that was worn after c. 1750. They also doubled as pockets.

If a proper pannier is worn, you first tie on a pair of pockets, and then the panniers. Pockets, panniers and pocket hoops all have narrow waistbands which is tied in a bow at the front.

To make sure that the hoops do not show through the skirt, one or more petticoats should be put on top. They don't have to be very thick, quite the contrary: they should be light, except perhaps in winter. A large number of folds and the stiffness of the fabric hides the hoops best. Therefore, the under-petticoats should have as much fabric as the visible petticoat. Two petticoats of light fabric work better than one petticoat of heavy fabric.

Now the visible petticoat, the skirt, is put on. The waistband is in two parts (same as for the under-petticoats, by the way) and long enough that each half goes all around the waist to be tied in a bow. The back half is tied on first...

... and then the front half. This allows the back and front half of the skirt to overlap each other, allowing for changes in a person's girth or for use by more than one person. Since the front half lies on top of the back, the pocket slits are easily accessible from behind even if there is a considerable overlap.

Next, the stomacher is fastened to the front of the stays: it is pinned on using the flaps on the side of the stomacher.

One question I am often asked is "Was this not dangerous?". Well, when putting the needles in you do have to be careful not to go to deep, lest you either hit the boning and break the pin off, or worse, miss the boning and hit the flesh! The pins should be put in vertically, shallowly, and the tip should come back out the fabric flap. If the stays are stiff enough, this will happen almost automatically. As the robe will be on top, the pins will be well hidden both from sight and from skin.

Now the robe comes on; it is put on like a coat. The front edges are placed onto the stomacher and pinned to it. The best way to do that is to fold away the dress, place the pins underneath – as close to the front edge as possible – and then fold the dress back to hide them.

These needles, too, aren't dangerous if they are put in shallowly from the top down and hidden under the gown. Just to be sure to have the tip go very shallowly back out through the fabric. It is a higher probability that you will scratch yourself or ruin your engageantes by brushing them against a pin tip lying outside the fabric than there is of driving a pin into the skin of your torso. The stays will protect you from the pins.

A woman of simple means would wear a jacket rather than a gown in everyday life. The jacket is often a shorter version of the dress and is put on in the same way.

When wearing a robe à la française, a close fit must be provided by tightly pulling the strings hidden under the back pleats of the dress. Pinning the front edges is easier if these strings are loose. Now is the time to have them re-fastened by a maid. This is another feature that makes the française so well suited for more than one dress size. My model here is at least two sizes away from the person the dress was originally made for.

With a robe à l'anglaise or à la polonaise, this is neither necessary nor possible since both have close-fitting backs anyway.

Add a fichu to cover the neckline, and the lady is fully dressed. For business outside the home, she may also add a mantelet or pelisse of black taffeta.

But what if it is really cold? I have not found much in the way of winter clothing yet, but I suspect that both mantelets and pelisses were not just made of taffeta, but also of wool and possibly, lined with fur. Commoners may have worn knitted triangular wraps as well.

For Society occasions, the fichu was left off, an elegant hairdo replaced the cap, and of course, the lady would put on a silk robe rather than this relatively simple cotton one.


Thursday, March 11, 2010


I knew there had to be an advantage to going back to my day job (which has nothing to do with costumes, fashion or even sewing), other than paying the bills; I got to find a picture I thought I had lost (and had been wishing to share with you since last summer).

Quick background story: Fall of 2008, the company where I work organizes it's annual Leadership week-end. Since 2008 was also Québec City's 400 years anniversary, they had said week-end in Québec City and used the historic anniversary as a theme. After the week-end, they bring back pictures and share them with everyone. That is when I found this:

18th Century maid

This is a photo of one of the entertainers hired for the week-end. She clearly plays the part of some sort of 18th century maid. Her costume is okay, or so it seems, until you look closely. See the white pieces of fabric at her side, under the basque of her bodice, but over the skirt? Those are pockets. One wears those UNDER a skirt!

Seriously, the first time I saw this photo, I laughed so hard, people were wondering why, so I had to explain, comparing this costuming faux pas to wearing one's underwear over one's clothes. (Okay ,so they didn't find it as funny as I did, but I guess they couldn't see it as I did).

I'm truly sorry to this poor entertainer, but really, might I suggest a little research?

To everyone else, I'm glad to be sharing this joke with you all.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: 18th Century Hoodie

And just like that, I’m back to the subject of 18th Century dresses. Someone I follow on DeviantART (Idzit, who makes amazing, amazing dresses – do check them out) recently told me I should defiantly try my hand at a pattern from Janet Arnold’s book Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's Dresses and their Construction, c. 1660-1860. I really feel like making a jacket right now (it takes less fabric and I could use some of my leftovers), so I started to flip through that book and I fell in love with this one:

A white quilted satin jacket with a hood and a matching petticoat, c. 1745-60, Snowshill Manor (page 30).

I call it the 18th Century Hoodie.

I hope to make it for this summer’s
Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France. I’m thinking of using my usual 1$ / metre jacquard for the hooded jacket, dye it yellow and wear it with a pink skirt (either the linen one or the satin one, I haven't made up my mind). Colour wise, it would look a little like this:

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette, Marie Antoinette (2006)

After I had begun planning this outfit (and this post), Idzit posted pictures of her own version of this dress (which is much more accurate to the description Janet Arnold made of it than anything I intend to make). She very graciously gave me permission to post it here.

Photography/editing: Chocomalk

Here is what she had to say about this ensemble:

This outfit is made of a cream-coloured quilted cotton lined with a cotton broadcloth (in the jacket). I'm wearing a bumroll underneath because I don't have a hooped crinoline, but the effect I find is just as lovely and probably more convenient.

The muff is fairly high-tech; it's lined with polar fleece and Thinsulate©! Not to mention there's a little pocket inside for a mirror, lipstick, cell-phone, wallet... blunderbuss - whatever! I did not use a pattern for the construction of the muff, it was fairly straightforward. I might one day post a tutorial on how to make one though...

"The white ruffles of a chemise would have shown below the flounce at the end of the sleeve. This suit would probably have been worn for travelling... A handkerchief would have been worn at the neck. The skirt would have probably been supported by a dome-shaped hoop-petticoat."-Janet Arnold.

Absolutely beautiful. Again, I really want to thank
Idzit for letting me share her work here.

I’m really itching to start working on an 18th century project. Anything, just 18th century.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Costumes on the Red Carpet: 82nd Academy Awards®

As you all know, Sunday night was my favourite award show of the year, the Oscars®. (If you didn't know, where the heck have you been living?) Oscar Night® is to me what the Super Bowl is to most men: I sit down in front of the tele with snacks to watch all of the pre-pre-pre show shows.

The awards are nice, some of the speeches are interesting, the hosts are funny, but really, what we want to see is the dresses! I've picked out a few to present here. Of course, you all know by now that if I show something here, it's because it caught my eye, and really, that is their purpose: ugly or not, the stars want you to remember them.

Here are the categories for this year's Costumeholic Oscar Red Carpet Dresses:


There is a trend going on in the fashion world for Nude tones and Blush pinks. Personally I look washed out in such colours (maybe if I left my basement once in a while instead of writing this blog - kidding!), but sun kissed skinned stars seem to wear them beautifully.

Anna Kendrickon on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

As beautiful as any Olympian Goddess!

Demi Moore on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

It's the return of the Mommy! Okay, I'm just being silly, but really, that was my first thought when I saw that bandaged looking bodice. Love the skirt though!

Pleats Please!

No, these are not Issey Miyake dresses, but they are covered in pleats and ruching. The dresses from the previous category could also have been included here.

Kristen Stewart on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

I thought it ironic that the star of Twilight would wear black: embracing our inner vampire, are we?

Mariah Carey on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Who else is seeing a blue clad Jessica Rabbit here? Raise your hand, anyone?

Penelope Cruz on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Have you ever noticed that every year at the Oscars, Penelope Cruz is always one of the best dressed? How does she do it? Never a faux pas!

Sigourney Weaver on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Sigourney Weaver is the ultimate Goddess in this one shoulder dress. She should not only join Anna Kendrickon on Mount Olympus, she should sit on the throne!

Silver and Gold

If Oscar gets to be clad only in gold, why couldn't the stars wear metallic tones too?

Cameron Diaz on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Have I ever mention I love Oscar de la Renta gowns? They are always of plain good taste, and this one is no exception.

Helen Mirren on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

This star truly must have fell from Heaven dressed like this!

Sandra Bullock on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Dressed in this gold gown, Sandra Bullock was bound to win her Oscar!

Why not?

Remember what I said about ugly or not? Some stars choose to go with stranger styles to get our attention.

Nicole Richie on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Why, oh why would Nicole Richie who is blessed by such a beautiful body, still tiny even after two pregnancies (let's hope it is not due to anorexia) would cover herself up in a caftan? Even a sequined caftan! She sort of looks like a slithering snake covered in brilliant scales. Or like she's living it up in the 70's.

Rachel McAdams on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

This dress is not actually ugly, far from it. I'm not a fan of prints for evening or formal wear, but I also know floral is very much in fashion right now (so I should just go with it). The reason I put it here is that I was instantly reminded of this Wishlist dress when I saw it (making it a costume in my twisted mind):

Moon Coloured Dress, Peau d'Âne, Les Plus Beaux Contes de Perrault, Lito-Paris Editions, Illustrations by Monique Gorde

Do you see it too or is it just me?


Another Fashion trend seen on this Red Carpet was architectural gowns. From small details to all over structures, there were examples to please everyone.

Charlize Theron on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Here is one way to bring attention to your bust: cover your boobs with huge flowers!

Kate Winslet on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

This dress may look simple at first, but look closely at the detail on the bodice, around hip level: a modern day Barbarella!

Zoe Saldana on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Oh frills! She's carrying a coral reef on her dress hem! Not my cup of tea, but I admire the work required to achieve such an effect.

Jennifer Lopez on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

I had never imagined putting a bustled train to the side front of a dress, but why not? Clearly, the result is beautiful!

Vera Farmiga on the Red Carpet of the 82nd Academy Awards®

Now that makes a statement! All over pleated frills! I wonder if it is comfortable to sit in?

One of these years, I'd like to organize an Oscar Night® party where everyone has to shows up in evening wear. It would be a great excuse to wear my prom dresses again (or to make something new - muahaha). Anyone I know interested? Of course, that's only while I await my turn to be nominated for Best Costume Design! (One can dream...)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Movie Monday: The Young Victoria (The Oscar Winning Costumes)

Since Sandy Powell won Best Achievement in Costume Design last night for her work on The Young Victoria (2009), I thought it only fair to feature this movie on Movie Monday a second time (see Movie Monday: The Young Victoria, posted on August 17, 2009), this time showing many more costumes (though not all of them). So here we go!

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"This dress is worn during the birthday celebration of her uncle, the King, As she was not yet Queen at this point, she was still under the control of her mother and consequently dressed in a more youthful, if not childish way.

All of her dresses during this time were designed to make her look young to emphasize the fact that her mother, the Duchess of Kent was intent on controlling her. The inspiration for this dress started with a piece of embroidery of white roses, which appears on the hem, This was a vintage piece, and there was not enough to cover the whole dress, so I had to have it copied and reproduced to provide enough yardage to work with."

Embroidered Silk Gown

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"This dress is made from a silk embroidered with blue, pink and purple flowers. The fabric is original Victorian and came in very narrow lengths so we had to match the background color with another fabric to make up the dress.

It is less elaborate than most of her dresses as it's a day dress and worn whilst out walking. The bonnet is made from straw with original silk ribbons and flowers."

(From The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes - Embroidered Silk Gown 2)

Purple Gown

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"This is one of my favorite Victoria costumes, I like its simplicity and the unusual cornflower blue color which works well with the irises in the headdress and is also very flattering. It's made from silk with original antique blond lace around the neck and shoulders."

(From The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes - Purple Gown)

Purple Gown - Exhibit photo by Jainamsolo

It is one of my favourite gowns of this movie, so I just had to find a full length view to share.

Victoria's Mourning Dress

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"This dress is a replica of the original dress worn by Victoria and scaled up to fit Emily Blunt. The original dress had faded to a brown colour when I saw it but it was originally black with a self stripe running through it. Victoria wears this immediately after the death of the King to address the Privy Council for the first time as Queen at the age of 17."


Queen Victoria's Private Garde Dress

"An emerald green silk bodice and skirt with embroidered blue circled ans silk lace trim neckline. Worn by Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt) in a scene filmed at Buckingham Palace."

From a card accompanying this dress at a QVB exhibit.

Coronation Gown

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"The Coronation Robes were based as closely as possible on the original garments which I had the privilege of seeing at Kensington Palace where they are stored. Of course the original fabric was especially woven but we had to replicate this by dying and printing onto fabric that would photograph to look as elaborate as the original."

(From The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes - Coronation Gown)

Victoria's Post Coronation Gown

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"As there was no actual reference to a ball after the coronation, or indeed any descriptions as to what she wore, I had to invent the dress for this scene. In a way it's her first 'Grown Up' evening dress and as she dances with Albert for the first time it had to be vibrant and romantic. I used gold as a reference to the grandeur of the coronation but lightened, and brightened the look with the contrasting dark pink of the floral decoration."


Victoria's Wedding Dress

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"This dress is closely based on the original wedding dress which I was able to see at Kensington Palace. The fabrics we used weren't as fine as the original dress and it took a long time to find a contemporary lace that was a good enough match to the original. Unfortunately, this dress is seen only fleetingly in the film."


Queen Victoria's Garden Day Dress

"A bodice and skirt ensemble in yellow and blue short silk taffeta with cream roses and berry trim worn with long ivory leather gloves and a pair of triple pearl drop earrings. This outfit was designed to allow Emily Blunt who played Queen Victoria, easier movement for a garden scene shot for the film."

From a card accompanying this dress at a QVB exhibit.

Victoria's Day Dress

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"This dress shows the new simplified, more sophisticated silhouette of the new Queen. The fabric is crisp silk Taffeta."


Victoria's Tartan Dress

What Sandy Powell had to say about this costume:

"Victoria wears this dress in the latter half of the film, after she becomes Queen. At this point, her style has changed to a more grown up, sophisticated look, with richer, darker tones, This dress was inspired from an original dress worn by the actual Victoria. I was fortunate enough to be shown samples of her clothing at Kensington Palace. One dress was made from very fine silk - much nicer fabric than is possible to obtain nowadays - with a dark tartan (plaid) pattern woven into it."


Queen Victoria's Evening Gown

By far my favourite gown of the movie - and I don't usually like lace!

"An electric blue satin dress with pale blue diamante detail worn with long gloves, the Coronation necklace and crystal drop earrings. This costume was worn by Queen Victoria (Emily Blunt) on set in London."

From a card accompanying this dress at a QVB exhibit.

So if you still haven't seen the movie, what are you waiting for? Go on, go drool on these Oscar® worthy creations!