THE STAR PRINCESS
LATEST I've started on the mask-on-stick. So far I've dressed a ready-made mask with a glittering blue layer, and I've put it on a wooden stick decorated with silver ribbon. What remains is:
*Complete the mask and re-vamp the tiara
*Fluff up the skirt a TAD more
WHAT'S IT SUPPOSED TO ILLUDE?
I've always been curious about what Christine is supposed to BE in this costume. I mean, you have monkeys, clowns, lions and other figures in the "Masquerade" scene; very easy recognizeable figures So what is Christine? I've always assumed her costume is inspired by the evening sky, where the blue turns to pink, and with the moon and stars on her head and all. She may also be "Aurora", the morning glow, symbolizing the break of day (a nice contrast to Carlotta's "night" costume, with blacks, bats, spider web and silver). I was thrilled to find a similar 18.th century costume when I started on this project. It's depicting "night" (while another one showed "day"), and shows a star spangled skirt and a tabbed, tight-fitting bodice. It's almost a synthese between what Christine wears and what Carlotta wears. Whatever the inspirations might have been, Maria Bjørnson referred to the costume as "The star princess".
GALLERY 1: INSPIRATIONAL PICTURES
1. Maria Bjørnson's costume design, ca. 1988.
2. Hanne Damm, Denmark, 2000.
3. Rebecca Caine, Canada, ca. 1990.
4. Deborah Dutcher, UK ca. 2000.
5. "The Hours of Night", an 18th century costume idea.
I didn't care too much for this costume until I saw the Danish production of Phantom. I got to see the dress backstage, and fell completely in love with it! It looks amazing closeup, and ditto when dancing. Yummy. Now I'm pretty crazy about this particular item.... Strange how one's taste can change so much! When I though about making it, there was one thing stopping me: the bodice. The two-coloured, snuggly-fitted, tabbed, beaded silk bodice. How on earth was I to make such an item?
I decided to see how far I could come, taking it step by step. If I failed, I would just scrap the whole thing. My very first mission was to use a 18.th century tabbed corset for inspiration for the fit/pattern. This gave me a cool bodice which I was happy about back then. Seeing it now, I know that an 18.th century corset gives me a cone shape, and not the 19.th century hourglass shape I wanted. Just a hint to others who plan to make the Masquerade costume... The construction consists of three panels. Each panel has two layers of unbleached cotton, with canals for the rigilene boning, and the bottom is tabbed with 12 tabs.
My next mission was to buy a fine white silk satin to dye (1 meter). I found that in Oslo. It was expensive, but not so expensive I could not afford to scrap it or use it for another fabric. Still safe guarding... It was one of the first times I worked with pure silk, and it was quite a discovery. So soft, so lush. But it was necessary if the dye was to "take" properly.
In the tiny town that was my hometown I also had to find proper dye - two colours that could be used for "pot dyeing" over the stove, so I could dip the fabric into alternating a blue and a pink pot. This was necessary for the fabric to become two-coloured, and blend at the middle. The brand "Dylon" had what I was looking for. I bought the colours "hot pink" and "sky blue", and began my very first dying adventure. It was scary! Mostly because I had never myself changed the colour of any fabric, and now I needed a two-coloured effect and I only had a vague idea of how to achieve it. Luckilly, it did work out nicely. I dipped the ends of the uncut fabrics in two pots; one end in the pink and one end in the blue. It was repeated a couple of times, until the colour started blending in the middle. The colours were extremely strong when finished, too strong at first, but when I rinsed and pressed it, the shades cooled and became just what I aimed for. I have later learned that they at least in the USA spray dye the bodices. That might be even easier, for anyone wanting to make a replica.
The bodice is made of three panels. From the 1 meter of dyed fabric I cut suitable silk pieces that would have the blue/pink blending field app. on the middle. As a stroke of luck a large piece of the silk had this V shape where the colours met, and I used that V for the front of the bodice. It gives a cool effect.
GALLERY 2: DYEING SILK
The next task was to add "crystals" and beads for the horizontal and vertical lines of the bodice. I started with the vertical lines, as they would "bind" the horizontal lines together. In the front and back they're curving towards the center, while they're rather straight in the sides. So far, so good...
While being backstage at POTO in Denmark I got to see an elder Masquerade bodice used by Hanne Damm, and I fell in love with the decorations on it. The front ruffles had a hint of gold, which created an interesting effect towards the cool crystal and silver tone of the costume. The horizontal rows of beads had small beads on top, became larger towards the bottom, and then went back to the small beads. This emphasized the wavy lines in a most delicate way. I decided to adapt these two features (the gold and the bead arrangement) for my own bodice.
The whole bodice, and also parts of the skirt, is decorated with lots and lots of "crystals" (plastic beads). In the bodice, the strings of pearls follows the curves of the tabs, and that continues up throughout the bodice. The vertical pearl beads are made using alternate one big and one small "crystal". I made the strings for the skirt the same way, except small and big stars will be used too, and they were mounted on a metal cord for sturdiness. The strings on the skirt will follow the tabs of the bodice (at least if everything goes as planned). I also have some rows of "crystal" beads in front, forming a V shape under the ruffle, and ending in a blue-and-golden drop shaped bead. On top there's silver star decorations.
GALLERY 3: BODICE DETAILS
The blue ruffle was made to echo the Australian and Canadian versions. Unlike other versions, they seem to have a continuous ruffle from bodice to sleeves, instead of separate puffed sleeves. I don't fancy the loose puffed sleeves all that much, though I've seen some nice versions there too. Not sure what the costume design suggest here, it can be intepreted both ways, as the close-up in gallery 3 shows.
The ruffle is made out of 14 metres of narrow strips of a turquoise fabric. Two rows is used in the front, while an additional broader row is added at the shoulders. The strips was trimmed with metallish golden and silver ribbons, and I've also glued on lots of small stars. In front, strings of chrystal beads has been attached, both over and under the ruffle. At the shoulders, the ruffle has an elastic ribbon so I can move more freely. In front of the ruffle, I've attached three fabric silver stars, one decorated with beads. An equal star has been used in the tiara. Underneath these stars, there is a row of beads as well. they have various length - sort at the sides, and getting longer and longer in front. The end of each bead string has a blue/golden drop shaped bead. All strings were sewn to a silver ribbon, and this ribbon was attached under the ruffle.
GALLERY 4: MORE BODICE PICS
For the skirt I have experimented using contrasting fabrics on top of eachother, to get this undefined pinkish blue color as seen in the stage costumes. The ground layers are blue, while the top layers are silver/pink. Most stage costumes I've got to see up close has had a silver or flower fabric just underneath the pink upper layer, to make a vibrant surface. The ground layer of the skirt is now made of a turquoise netting plus a softer sky blue tulle with silver sparkle. Overneath I have an identical pink silver sparkle layer. I will add layers as I find suitable fabrics. Each layer takes around 2,5 metres, and is A-cut.
One thing I learned a bit too late, is that the stage costumes don't always use as many layers as one would think; they add lots of ruffles to an underskirt/underlayer instead. This gives the nice bell shape seen on stage. The actual skirt isn't too heavy, which makes it float nicely when dancing. I, on the other hand, has used multiple layers to "fluff it up". This gave me a heavy skirt which wasn't as bell shaped as I planned. I therefore removed some layers of the pink tulle, and added two rows of turquoise netting ruffle to the bottom layer. This improved the look a lot, and give a lighter skirt as well, more comfy to wear. Read more about that process here.
GALLERY 5: REVAMPED SKIRT
GALLERY 6: THE OVERALL LOOK
OTHER ELEMENTS FOR THIS COSTUME
Apart from the beaded, dip-dyed bodice and the fluffy skirt, there were other details to attend to. The design shows rows of stars on the skirt; usually these follows the vertical lines of the bodice. The stars are attached to strings of beads. I used metal wire and added various "crystal" beads and silver stars. Three silver stars were used on each string, and there are 8 strings in total. I also made a silver moon-and-stars tiara. Initially I was very pleased with the result, but it wasn't very solid. I'll use some pieces from the old one and make a brand new, ridicilously oversized "Star princess" tiara... As for boots, I stumbled across some semi-high boots on sale ages ago. They were made of a black imitated leather material of some sort, and by using three bottles of a silver spray they're now quite glittering and funky and matching my costume. The shape is good too, although I would wish for thicker and curvier heels.
GALLERY 7: DETAILS
Dylon colour chart online
Picture gallery for the "Star Princess"
Costume design print for sale
My "Phantom of the Opera" costume replicas
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