FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Art Nouveau Yavanna
Outline the story …
From the moment I saw the competition announcement, I knew I wanted to make something from a fantasy novel, probably Tolkien. Then I knew exactly who I wanted to inspire my project. Yavanna, Giver of Fruits, also known as Queen of the Earth, is one of the holy ones in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. When she takes up ‘the form of a woman', Tolkien wrote, 'she is tall, and robed in green; but at times she takes other shapes. Some there are who have seen her standing like a tree under heaven, crowned with the Sun’.
Of course I couldn’t do anything without historical references: I have always wanted to try a Belle Époque / Art Nouveau blend, and there was something about the swirls in Camille Clifford’s dresses that gave me earthy, tree-like vibes. So I decided to make a dress inspired by the turn of the century and Art Nouveau themed. Whilst researching, I was particularly inspired by a specific lampshade and a glazed tile design. My plan was: a trumpet-shaped skirt for maximum swirl effect, with the top part as a corset with a petal design like that on the glazed tile, to get that Art Nouveau suppleness. The white petals symbolise the strength of her singing, which she uses a few times, including in the process of creating the Moon and the Sun.
Outline the construction…
The skirt is made in a pattern I adapted from marquise.de, listed as one 1901 'Skirt Victoria'. This made for a gorgeous skirt, but to get the effect I wanted, I took out one of the panels and enlarged the back panel until I got the train size right. I also flatlined the skirt with some tulle to give it more body. The top was made out of Atelier Sylphe's 'ref W' corset pattern. I scaled it to fit my measurements, but my biggest struggle was making an overbust shape from its underbust pattern. I had to make many alterations to get the petal shapes and to make the silhouette more accurate to the time period; in the end I had to add a lot of padding to get the shape right. My biggest struggle by far was physical. Never having made a corset before, I had absolutely not realized the strength needed to cut steel boning and to insert the grommets. The other thing was, because I wanted this specific petal design on the corset, I could not fit this design to the pattern. So I decided to make the corset in a flesh colored coutil, then add the fashion fabric on top, securing everything with the tiniest stitches I could possibly make. This sort of applique was incredibly hard to do because of the thickness of the coutil, but I got almost all the lines straight.