FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
A Mirror Clear
Outline the story …
Looking longingly through a window at the forbidden world outside is something I feel is very relatable over the past year. Tennyson’s "The Lady of Shallot" stood out to me from the beginning when thinking about what story I wanted to design for. From her being stuck inside with no end in sight, to her desire to see things in the flesh instead of only through reflection.
Whilst there are many interpretations of the poem, there is one that suggests it could perhaps symbolise Tennyson’s own feelings of distance from society. This is the one that drove my design. Pre-Raphaelite paintings have an abundance of interpretations but I decided to stay away from the traditional Arthurian portrayal. With Tennyson’s poem written in 1833 and rewritten 1842, I felt compelled to have the silhouette loosely based in this era but wanted there to be enough differences for it to appear as if she had been disconnected from current fashions for a while.
I wanted to create an outfit that represents the time spent looking out of a window, desiring the world outside but unable to reach it so I chose materials that represent the dressing of a window. The underdress and sleeves are made from a cotton calico; a similar colour and weight to the curtains in my living room. The cuffs are an antique curtain tape attached with gathers to represent the drawn back quality of a curtain when its being looked out of.
Outline the construction…
The corset is pattern F from Atelier Sylphe that I slightly altered. It is the first corset I have ever made and I had the corsetry pages on Foundations Revealed open every step of the way! I wanted to create a dramatic curve at the busk so it would flow down into the gathered edge of the lace skirt to add body and shape.
I found I lowered the neckline of the dress a bit more than my original design to give a softer shape of the shoulders in contrast to the puffy sleeves. Whilst the use of all white and cream was a purposeful choice (as the original poems mention her dressed being white) the subtle pops of colour on the corset against the cream draws your eye towards them. Almost as if you are looking at flowers through a window that is dressed by curtains and netting.
Deciding whether to dye or stain the cotton and lace to a tarnished, ageing colour came down to a matter of storytelling. I felt compelled to age the fabric to show the timeless transcendence of the narrative of medieval arthurian legend, to Victorian poetry and into the present, but I felt the breaking down process may have destroyed the overall effect of the costume, so I refrained.
Upholstery floral fabric remnant, cotton calico, bias binding, crochet lace, waist tape, metal busk, 7mm pre-cut spiral bones, 5mm eyelets, corset lacing, polyester curtaining lace, reused curtain tape and cream crochet lace.