THE SYLVAN GLADE




INSPIRATION
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1. The costume design, by Maria Bjørnson (1986)
2. The costume design, by Maria Bjørnson (1986)
3. Depiction of a famous French ballerina, from the Palais Garnier library in Paris (thanks to Brianne Kelly Morgan).
4. Lara Glew from Stuttgart, Germany (2003).
5. Viennese costume on display.
6. Australian costume on display.
7. Sylphides from Australia/The World Tour (2007).
8. Sylphides from West End production (2004).
9. Sylphides from Sao Paolo, Brazil (2005).
10. A glimpse of the skirt layers in the Las Vegas costumes (2009).
11. A closeup of the bodice in the design (1986)
12. Rachel Horn and unknown, from the Essen production (2006).
13. Tori Cooper and Rachel Horn, from Copenhagen, Denmark (2009).
14. A closeup of the bodice from Hamburg, Germany (1997).




THE SYLVIAN GLADE
In "Phantom of the Opera" there are three mock operas. The second one is called "Il Muto", and takes place in the end of act one. Because the opera performance is interrupted, the ballerinas are sent on stage to perform "The Dance of the Country Nymphs". They are illuding sylvan glades dancing in a forest, in a landscape inspired by antiquity. Their costumes are made of multiple rich materials in mint green, turquoise, olive and pink shades, with a dash of cream and metallic shades. The style is the Antiquity seen through the eyes of the Rococo era. The costume consist of two main parts - a corseted bodice with mock lacing in front and green drapes, and a bell shaped skirt with a draped apron and a bow in the back. Both bodice and skirt have flower decorations, and various ribbons. The sylvian glades also wears a tiara of flowers, with silk ribbons hanging down over the ears. This head gear is worn over a wig with whose hairdo is also inspired by antiquity - small curls in front, large ringlets in the back.

There are two main versions of this costume. In Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia the colours are kept in pale mint green, cream, pink and glittering shades. In the US the colours are bolder; bright turquoise for the bodice, accented with green drapes and a more pinkish overlay on the skirt. I love both, but for this particular costume I'm going by the former. Main inspiration has been the costumes from Australia, Germany and Denmark, but with a bit of "frankensteining". Because of an Aussie costume being on display several places in the current World Tour of "Phantom of the Opera", I got good photos of that version and tried to incorporate the lushness into my replica.

The main bodice of my replica is made of mint green synthetic silk, with an interlayer of felt, and with a lining of fine linen. Since many of my costume friends swears to cable ties for boning, I just had to try it out. And I can see why they're so fond of it. It's super easy to use! Just snip off the ends, adjust the length, and insert them into the boning channel. It looks neat and gives good support. And it's economical, if you buy large amounts. The ones I bought were a bit too bendy, I know there are stiffer ones out there, which I will try out next time. But the current ones works very well too, and the inside looks neat. The bodice of my replica is definitely stiffer than the ones worn on stage, but that is because mine will most likely be worn by a non-dancer.

The bodice has sturdy elastic shoulder straps. They were originally pale grey, but was made flesh coloured with make up foundation. This makes them blend well with the skin.


BODICE PROGRESS

Bodice progress in January 2012.


I made the main shape of the collar of the same fabric as the bodice lining. I then draped olive silk dupioni on top of this. I always think it's easier to drape a fabric on something. However, after studying pictures closer, I decided I wanted a collar with two curves instead of one. Both versions can be seen in the stage costumes, but the one with two curves seemed closer to the costume design. Once the olive fabric was draped and tucked down, I tried out various flowers. I settled on a glittering pink one for the middle, and two peach ones for the sides. I think it's interesting to throw some accenting colours in there, to make the main colours stand out more.

Speaking of which, most versions of this costume shows accenting colours in the underskirt, something I love. The US costumes have hints of lime green and turquoise, and the Aussie ones cool mint. Both gives a wonderful effect when the dancers move around on stage. The style I choose has various green, lilac and pink shades, gradually changing from one to another. I used both soft tulle and stiffer netting; the softer fabric used as the inner layer so it's easier towards the skin. This tulle has small glittering rhine stones in it too. Most stage skirts have an overlay of a glittering fabric with various decorative ribbons sewn on horizontally. I like the touch of glitter, and searched for a suitable fabric for a long time. Finally I found a polyester organza in a white/green shade; the same as one I used in a white/pink shade for the Star Princess skirt.

The skirt in general is made up of three layers of green tulle, and three layers of pink netting and tulle. The pink is only visible when dancing or moving. The latter layers have a tabbed and/or zig-zagged hem, while the green ones have silver bobbin lace trims. The overskirt is made of a glittering white/mint fabric. It is shorter than the main skirt, and has various horizontal trims. Each row, alternating in pink and green, actually consists of several trims. The lower pink one is a metallic pink/silver trim placed on an unbleached lace. The next row is metallic green/gold/silver, and is placed on a white broader trim. The layer over there is a pink silk ribbon placed under an ornamental silver one. The top row is a mint green silk ribbon, box pleated, and with a narrow silver trim on top. This layering creates lots of structure, and makes the colours ambiguous. I quite like that. The layering makes the overskirt a bit heavy however, and together with the slight stiffness of the polyester organza I don't think the glittering overskirt moves as well as it should. But it looks very rich.


SKIRT PROGRESS

Skirt progress February 2012.

The glittering overskirt is trimmed with a metallic silver lace in the bottom, and a mint green silk ribbon on top. It's sewn to a short "peplum" made of the same fabric as the bodice. Overneath this is a curved, draped apron. It has a cotton base, with moss green polyester partly pleated and partly draped. Originally I headed for a loose, casual draping, but after something like 8 attempts I gave up and tucked it down instead, and added a layer of olive tulle on top. If I ever make a new version of this costume I think I would drape tulle directly on a green base, it would be ligther. But the current version looks ornate. On top of that is a sprinkle of various flowers in hot pink, baby pink, orange and grey. I tried to make it look "random" but still with some kind of symmetry.


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Skirt progress March-June 2012.

The finishing touches of the costume was to pleat a lime green tulle with glittering rhine stones (same as the lilac and green used in the skirt) and attach this to all drapes. The apron got a slightly broader pleated trim, with a sprinkle of gold spray on top to dull it down. The draped collar, arm decorations and back got narrower pleated trim. For the back I made a big bow and pointed petals, with a core of stiff tulle (in lack of horsehair). The bow is attached fairly high, almost hiding the closing of the skirt. The skirt is closed with one large and one small hook and bar, while the bodice is closed with four large hooks and bars. The backdrape of the bodice is attached with a snap button on the left side, while it's sewn to the bodice on the right side.


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The finished costume and some closeups of the details. The floral head gear is all that remains.

This costume was originally made ot finance my trip for the closing of Phantom Las Vegas. But the trip happened before the costume was finished, and I put it on hold. Now it's finally all finished, and I'm very happy with the result. The costume has immense amounts of details, and looks rich from all angles. The skirt also took a lot of fabric... But it's not my size - though the bodice has a bit extra fabric in the back and can be adjusted by moving the bars - so I still intent it for sale. If you're interested in purchasing it, please email me at operafantomet (at) hotmail (dot) com. Current size is closest to an European 38 / US 10 / Medium / UK 12.

Suggested price is NOK 4000,- / EURO 500,- / US DOLLAR 550 (shipping included).





My "Phantom of the Opera" costume replicas





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