FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Wild Card Prize - Beautifully thought out design and ingenious use of materials created a stunning resulting look.
The Weaver Girl
Outline the story …
The Cowherd and Weaver Girl is a Chinese folktale, described in Qin Guan’s Song dynasty poem, “鹊桥仙”. The Queen of Heaven forbade their union and used her silver hairpin to carve a rift between heaven and earth: the Milky Way. Once a year, on Chinese Valentine's Day, magpies form a bridge to allow the lovers to meet again. I've always loved this version of the (literally) star-crossed lovers and wanted to capture the beautiful poignancy of the Weaver Girl, Zhinü, waiting to be reunited with her husband. The image of a flock of kind-hearted magpies bridging the Milky Way is so evocative of the importance of community support. I kept the color palette limited to mostly black and white in homage to the yin-yang concept as a reflection of duality and balance in both the patience and the passion of waiting, especially in this pandemic year as we wait to hug our loved ones again. The silver and iridescent accents echo the sparkle of the stars, and the feathers are magpie mementos that Zhinü might have saved and woven into her outfit for the next year's meeting. The shorter overskirt, trailing gown, and gauzy fabrics are modernized versions of style elements typical in Chinese paintings of celestial maidens; the traditionally styled hair accessories and the qipao-esque collar and bolero shape bring to mind both historical and more recent Chinese fashion, emphasizing the timelessness of the story.
Outline the construction…
With my limited color palette, I wanted to use different fabric textures to bring some visual depth to the costume. I also wanted to use repurposed fabrics where possible, both for sustainability and because it shouldn't cost a fortune in fancy fabrics to make a beautiful outfit. The corset is made from fabrics leftover from theater costuming jobs, and the underskirt is made from an old net curtain and a bedsheet. The bolero fabric is a thrifted velvet tablecloth, and the cape's feathers cut from the skirt and corset fabric scraps. Many of the beads and chains are from deconstructed jewelry from my coworkers' destashes, and the hairpieces made by heatforming old plastic milk jugs. The biggest challenge was fitting my corset, since I had originally patterned it when I was still breastfeeding; I ended up trying to pad out the bust to accommodate my body changes. This is only the second overbust corset I've made, so I was trying to figure out the best method of construction with the help of internet tutorials. I knew I wanted to hide the messy underside of the beading, so I ended up making a boned "lining" layer under the beaded fashion fabric. My favorite parts are the beaded bird appliques, done on silk organza; I experimented with many different types of bead, ribbon, and fabric layouts to get a recognizable magpie look. Because of all the individually hand-stitched beads and feathers, time and hand-health management were an important consideration.