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Wild Card Prize - Beautiful use of texture to make a multidimensional character
Aello the Harpy
Outline the story …
From a starting point of ‘I do not know when I last read a book help’ I ended up looking at Greek Mythology. The harpies have evolved over time from the personification of storm winds to disgusting creatures that torture souls on their way to Tartarus, so I was interested in designing something half way - not quite the vague ephemeral, but not quite the monsters they became. This seemed to be represented best by Hesiod, who wrote them as both “lovely maidens” in Theogeny, and as a punishment for Phineus in Catalogue of Women. I chose Aello (“Storm Swift”) to focus on, as she is one of two most commonly named and has a specific separate story, as while being pursued by the Boreads (wind brothers) she fell into the river Tigris and her life was spared when she agreed to stop harassing Phineus. I love medieval fantasy costume design so a lot of inspiration came from that, but initially I designed a gown with every element I could think of in it - Greek, armour, medieval - and pared that down by picking out my favourite bits and designing it several more times, focusing in more on the bird aspect of the character to include feathers and texture. I chose to base the colouring around magpies. The design ended up being quite heavy on the medieval inspiration, though I used no actual medieval sources for the design which I think would have helped improve the design and pattern.
Outline the construction…
About 99% self-drafted - I used a pattern to help improve the armscye and sleeve head which was moderately successful. The pattern itself is pretty straightforward, and the main garment was constructed in three parts; the skirt in three panels (front and two back), waistbelt, and bodice; and the cape is a separate element.
The bodice neckline is trimmed with recycled silk ribbon, with additional stay tape on the inside. The fabric for this didn’t match the skirt very well, so the bodice and sleeves were covered after construction - synthetic dupioni for the bodice and a crinkled jersey for the sleeves. The feather texture covering the bodice is cut from silk in strips of 3 different sizes which have been allowed to fray slightly.
The sleeves are in two parts, the upper arm and the drop, sewn together to conserve fabric. The upper arm is slashed with leather lacing, and the sleeve drop is lined with shot taffeta.
The waistbelt is lightly boned - 3 synthetic baleen in the front and one on each side seam - and has an applique wrapping around the body in a swirling pattern to evoke the storm wind origins of the character. Again this was covered with synthetic dupioni to keep the colour consistent.
The cape is shot organza trimmed with a black leaf and a black feather trim, and attached to shoulder pads made from wing appliques and feathers.