FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Wild Card Prize - The layers and textures of this dress are so clever and beautiful
Outline the story …
Miss Havisham is a fictional character from Charles Dickens’s classic novel ‘Great Expectations’- first published in 1861. During the story of the novel, Miss Havisham remains bitter and reclusive since her fiancé left her at the alter decades before the story takes place. Since that day, it seems her whole life comes to a stop- all the clocks stop, the table setting for the wedding is still in place, and she remains in her decaying wedding gown all these years later.
This costume represents this decaying image that is Miss Havisham. To start the design process, I imagined how the costume might have looked on her wedding day when she was young and beautiful and full of hope. The costume needed to appear that it had been lived in for decades- the fabric manipulation of the tulle over fabric (achieved by boiling fabric wrapped around buttons), represents decay and mold, growing up the gown whilst she is still in it.
The tulle-wrapped beads with puff binder over the top, again signifies this idea of mold growing right over the top of the fabric. The broken up tulle is designed to giove the impression that over time, she is disintegrating into nothingness as she is slowly forgotten about by the world.
The firm structure of the Robe à la Française, achieved by authentic 18th century panniers, represents the harshness that she sees humanity to be.
Outline the construction…
As this is one of the first costumes I made, I found it difficult just reading and understanding the Robe à la Française pattern which I bought off the internet. Having previously made only very small costumes, one of the main, unexpected challenges was cutting out such huge pattern pieces in fabric neatly. The sheer weight of the fabric meant that it pulled down whilst I pinned the pleats of the skirt in place.
Due to a limited budget, I opted to use polyester fabrics rather than the historically accurate silks that would have been used. I felt this was a more economical method as the tulle would be covering most of the polyester dupion so the plastic shine was not noticeable. I then printed my own fleur-de-lis pattern on the bottom of the gown to mimic the silk damasks used at the time. Although this feature is lost in many of the photos, I think I still adds something to the overall gown.
I am pleased with the level of detail I achieved which symbolises the character. In this costume for Miss Havisham, I decided to use a technique I have not known any other to use, which is creating a textural effect by boiling tulle which has been wrapped in buttons. This created a beautiful, fungus-type look, perfect for Miss Havisham. I also embroidered beads into tulle to add a similar textural effect. I also hand-embroidered moths which trail down the skirt.