THE HAMBURG STAR PRINCESS
DISCLAIMER: I have not made this outfit.
Colby Thomas ca. 1993 to the left, possibly the same skirt to the right.
This "Star Princess" skirt was, along with many other "Phantom of the Opera" costumes and items, sold in an auction at Neue Flora Theater in 1995 or 1996 sometime. I suspect it's the same one as where the Renée Knapp Wishing dress was auctioned off, as it also dates from the early 90s. The Slavegirl and Star Princess ones were bought by a woman working in the costume department at Neue Flora in the 90s, and she contacted me and asked if I were interested in buying these costumes. I think I responded "YES!!" in five different languages... Because not only is the Hamburg costumes some of my favourites, it was also costumes worn by two lead roles, and were so beautiful.
PICTURES FROM HAMBURG
This skirt was originally worn by Colby Thomas. She started as Christine understudy in Hamburg ca. 1992. She became principal in 1993, and remained so until the Hamburg production closed in June 2001. She obviously went through a lot of costumes, even though they're made to be worn "forever". But being the principal, it means slightly worn-out items might be kept as a backup or for understudy use, while the principal gets her dresses renewed now and then. The skirt in question seems to date from her early run. This is based on the massive amount of stars on the skirt - it was done in both Hamburg, Vienna and other places until the mid 90s sometime. In the late 90s fewer strings of stars were worn. The original Hamburg skirts were not tabbed, as can be seen by the pictures of Anna Maria Kaufmann and Colby Thomas in the Star Princess costume. I assume Colby Thomas' first skirt was one she inherited from Joke de Kruijf, the original christine understudy. They seem to have been about the same size, and I know Colby Thomas wore her boots. She might have taken over her whole wardrobe.
Colby's next skirt was tabbed. I assume this was made around 1993-94 sometime. It also seems this is the skirt in my care. This skirt was still star studded, but the hem was tabbed, and there is a peculiar details in front, with the underlayer of the skirt being a tad too short. This is present in the skirt I own, as well as the skirt in picture 2 and 3 underneath. The next skirt(s) Colby Thomas wore still had the tabbed hem, but the strings of stars were different. They were fewer, and instead of a mix of large and small stars, they had the smallest ones at the waist, and the larger ones down the skirt.
1. Anna Maria Kaufmann in a star studded, non-tabbed skirt from 1990 Hamburg.
2. Colby Thomas wearing a star studded, non-tabbed skirt from ca. 1993 Hamburg.
3. + 4. Colby Thomas in a star stutted skirt with a tabbed hem. Ca. 1993/94, Hamburg.
5. Colby Thomas in a skirt with tabbed hem, but with less stars. With Sabrina Harper ca. 1998.
6. Ditto, ca. 1998. The width and softness of the skirt is apparent here.
7. Colby Thomas ca. 1998. When moving, the blue underlayers of the skirt is revealed.
8. Maria Bjørnson's design for the "Star Princess".
CONDITION OF THE SKIRT
The skirt is in fairly good shape. Certainly not something I would discard if I were costume supervisor, as what it mostly need is a new upper layer with new stars. Still, the stars and some minor areas seems to have been repaired a couple of times, maybe it was easier to make a brand new one in the end. Especially dry cleaning can be hard on glittering costumes. It might also be that Colby Thomas needed a different size, though I doubt this is the reason. Altering the current size would not be a difficult job.
Alas the skirt was sold without the two-coloured, beaded bodice. I don't know if this was the case in Hamburg, but in for example Copenhagen the Christines often shared the same "Star Princess" skirt, while they wore individual bodices. This means there were more wear and tear on the skirt than the bodices. If the same was the case in Hamburg, it might explain why only the skirt was auctioned off. The full costume would include skirt, bodice, arm ruffles, moon tiara, mask on stick, stockings, high-heeled Victorian boots, and even a necklace with a ring attached. So in effect it's barely half a costume. But what an item!
PICTURES OF THE HAMBURG STAR PRINCESS SKIRT
The first view of the skirt. I love me some fluff.
The various layers of the skirt.
It almost feels wrong to call this a pink skirt. There is one - ONE - pink layer, and multiple blue and greyish layers. The above pictures shows all the layers, as well as the skirt worn inside-out. The basic layer is an A cut blue tulle with three shades of gathered blue tulle attached in various height. It ranges from almost royal blue to baby blue. Above this is two short layers attached to the waistband; one sky blue and one white layer of tulle. The second layer is a pale blue A cut layer, also with a gathered layer of tulle on top. Ditto for the third layer, except the gathered field is attached a tad higher up. The fourth layer is a silverish floral lace fabric with a tabbed hem. The fifth layer is a feather light pink silk. It's a bit darker towards the waist than at the hem, and there's also a seam just under the waistband. The pink silk also has a tabbed hem. The sixth and last layer is a greyish blue tulle with tabbed hem. This one has stars and strings of beads attached, probably corresponding to the vertical bead strings of the bodice Colby Thomas wore.
The blue underlayers serves a purpose - when Christine dances on stage the skirt echoes the two colours of the bodice. This is specified in the costume design: Hombré net skirt with under layers changing to blue inside.. The extremely fluffy underside also prevent too much glimpse of the underwear of the actress when Raoul lifts her... I have been told the US versions of this costume has a small panty underneath, like a modern ballet tutu. This is not the case with this Hamburg skirt, and I don't think it is done with European versions in general.
The skirt has a broad waistband made of sturdy white cotton, with a narrow elastic one attached on top. The elastic one has buttons and straps. The broad one is curved, so it "anchors" in the waist. The curves are achieved by tucking in the cotton at places. All layers are attached a bit down, except the pink and star layer - they're attached further up. These layers also have a silver line one the tabbed hems. A permanent marker or glitter glue or similar seems to have been used on the pink layer, while the upper netting layer has a silver ribbon basted to the hem, with silver thread. The skirt has a short split in the back, and it's closed with various hooks and eyes in the waist, and snap buttons in the skirt split. The buttons inside the waistband were probably used to button the skirt to the bodice to make it stay put. In Copenhagen some of the Christine bodices had elastic bands with button holes inside, so the skirt could be attached to these so the skirt would follow the movements of the bodice. There are also two large cotton straps, one on each side, to allow the skirt to hang on a hanger when not used.
The waistband and the closing in the back.
The skirt as such is rather large, both in width and length. But the waist is narrow. It doesn't even fit my mannequin, which is around EU 36/38 in size (US 4/6). The waistband is around 70 centimeters (27,5 inches). Then again, it's hardly surprising when seeing pictures of Colby Thomas - she has an impressively narrow waist in those costumes:
Colby Thomas in respectively the slavegirl costume, the wedding dress and the Wishing dress.
Some of the strings of beads and stars are damaged and crudely repaired, as there are lots of traces of glue. There's also some random blue beads here and there, because the silver/crystal coat is worn off. They were probably silver originally. Many of the stars has lost its deco - small and large crystals glued to the arms of the star, and approximately 60% of the small crystals have disappeared. But there are traces of them, through a layer of glue, or through the silver undercoat of the gem still sitting in place. Amazingly only one big "crystal" had fallen off, the rest were intact. The stars are made of an extremely light-weight and bendy plastic. They look metallic, but that's due to the silver coating. Most of the stars have a kind of yellow foam inside, possibly to keep the shape? The stars don't have a backside (apart from the foam, that is), and is sewn to a netting fabric separately from the strings of beads. The strings of beads are short, only inserted in between the stars. The strings are made of white and silver "crystals" as well as "pearls", and they are attached to a thick sewing thread. The ends are finished off with a small metal clasp, avoiding a bead drama on stage if anything should come loose.
Stars of four different sizes has been used; small, two semi-large ones, and large. The three biggest ones have "pyramid layers", with a large crystal in the middle and with small crystals glued to the arms. The stars in front is attached a bit down, to make room for the pointed front of the bodice. The stars in front is not symmetrical, with bigger ones being used on left than on right. I wonder if some has been replaced at one point, without thought of which size was originally there. But it might have been asymmetrical originally too. No stars appears to be missing. Two has partly come loose, but they're still in place and can be re-attached. The stars are sewn to the tulle due to small holes in upper and lower arm. To add some sparkle the upper tulle layer has additional glittering dots as well. They appear to have been ironed to the fabric, as they're not glued or sewn to the tulle.
I have glued new crystals to the arms of the stars where they lacked - I probably used 180 crystals in total. I used a flat-backed "aurora borealis" plastic version, and used a gel super glue to avoid dripping and stains. The gel glue does not yellow particularly over time either, as some glue versions can. Some stars have minor wear and tear on the silver. I've filled out the missing silver with a super silver nail polish, blending well with the original. A few stars have lost all silver paint. I have not painted them on top, but rather underneath, as they lacked the foam filling. This is partly to make the restoration reversible, and partly to preserve the shine of the plastic. Last part of the work will be to reattach all stars and strings of beads, as a few of them has come loose.
It varies what kind of boots Christine actresses wears to this costume. Most are blue or pale turquoise with silver details; some are leather, some are satin. The height also varies. The pair I own is pretty low. They have lacing in front, and a metal zipper in the sides. They're of baby blue satin with silver trim around the ankle and lacing in front, and with a semi high, curved heel. The front toe and upper edge is slightly curved. The inside is lined with tan leather, and there's a black rubber sole underneath, which shows clear signs of wear in front. The satin is also damaged, on the inside heel completely worn off at one of the boots. The zipper have rust stains. But as such the condition isn't bad. They're UK made, from Anello & Davide, and are of size 3,5 (EU 36/US 4,5).
Two names are written under, at the leather: Colby T. (Colby Thomas) and Joke D. K. (Joke de Kruijf). The latter was the original Christine understudy in the Hamburg production, and I don't think she stayed for too long. Her name is written in green marker, while Colby's name is written in pen. Joke's name is has pen marks over it, as to remove the name. So I assume these were originally worn by Joke de Kruijf in 1990, and then used by Colby Thomas when she took over as Christine understudy in 1992.
The seller of the skirt had included these boots in my parcel without telling me. It came as a big surprise, and made me so happy! They are beautiful.
This skirt would originally have been worn with a two-coloured silk bodice, blue over the bust and pink in the waist. It would have been decorated with horizontal and vertical strings of crystals and/or beads, and with additional fluffy decorations over the bust. The bodice was pointed in front, judging from the placement of the strings of stars, and would have tabs all around. It was most likely closed in the back with hooks and eyes. Additional shoulder "puffs" of pink and blue shades with gold/silver trims would also have been worn. In Europe these are usually worn separately, while they're and integrated part of the collar in various other areas. Underneath is a closeup of the costume design, as well as pictures of the bodices worn by Anna Maria Kaufmann (1990) and Colby Thomas (mid 90s). The bodice was probably in too good shape to be sold off, and continued to be worn in the Hamburg production. Ditto for the shoulder "puffs".
MY AUTHENTIC PHANTOM COSTUMES
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