Wild Card Prize - Beautiful use of texture to make a multidimensional character

Aello the Harpy



Alex Bradley


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.




  1. Avatar Rebecca Azevedo on March 11, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    Stunning! Congratulations!

  2. Avatar Martina Girardi on March 11, 2021 at 8:20 pm

    All these details make me cry, this is too stunning! And this shows how much effort you have put into this, you have my sincere admiration!

  3. Avatar Aðalheiður Bjarnfreðsdóttir on March 11, 2021 at 9:37 pm

    The trim on the cape is so pretty! I love all the feathers.

  4. Avatar Wendy on March 12, 2021 at 2:46 am

    Spectacular. The feathers are amazing and the train is gorgeous – the trim! All of the details are stunning. Well done!

  5. Avatar Samanthalovestosew on March 12, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Really beautiful and imaginative details – I love this costume.

  6. Kitty Mortensen Kitty Mortensen on March 12, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    The textures!!! This is absolutely STUNNING – Great work

  7. Avatar Sammyra on March 12, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    oh wow ♡♡ love the texture of the cloth feathers, and the colour of the sleeves and train… in fact, i love pretty much everything about this, it looks so beautiful. you look amazing! absolutely wonderful work

  8. Avatar Liudmila Mainzer on March 13, 2021 at 6:12 am


  9. Avatar Nadine on March 13, 2021 at 10:42 am

    Amazing work. This is Art! I love how texture variations, appliques and the design together evoke the idea of storm.

  10. Avatar Melanie on March 13, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    Wow, just wow. Beautiful. Applause to the creativity!

  11. Avatar Terri Bowlby-Chiasson on March 13, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Magical! Well done! It’s beautiful! You must be so pleased!

  12. Avatar Whats Sewing On on March 16, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    The details! Oh MYYYY! I love the pop of colour! I feel like I see something new in each picture!

  13. Avatar BurstAngel 75 on March 17, 2021 at 12:09 am

    WOW! Just, WOW!
    I love the details and the color is stunning.

  14. Avatar Stephanie Tietze on March 22, 2021 at 7:04 am

    This is stunning. I love the feather details on the bodice and shoulder as well as the contrast of the black and the vibrant green.

  15. Avatar Deborah Melo on March 24, 2021 at 12:51 am

    The textures on the shoulders are so nice! I also love the embroidery! Well done!

  16. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 24, 2021 at 5:36 am

    This is gorgeous! I love the attention to detail! Very well done, thank you!

  17. Avatar Teri Plemel on March 26, 2021 at 12:04 am

    I am blown away by that shoulder detail!

  18. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 27, 2021 at 2:11 am

    Gorgeous! I love the shimmering emerald green inside the sleeves contrasting with the black gown, and those feather accents on the shoulders are beautiful! Well done!

  19. Avatar Valarie Olafson on March 27, 2021 at 3:05 am

    Oh my goodness! I love it! Your details are spectacular.

  20. Avatar Shadoe on March 29, 2021 at 12:22 am

    This is gorgeous! The details are stunning! I love how you did the feathers!

  21. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 29, 2021 at 2:36 am

    Fab work! I love your interpretation, details, and textures! Well done!

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