I have been vacillating back and forth the best way to approach blogging about costuming the various characters in “Cinderella”. Do you start with a synopsis and follow up with the individual costume posts . . . or do you write up the individual costume posts and then follow with a wrap-up summary? I decided to do the summary first, that way (hopefully) I can talk about the “why” in one place and refer back to that summary context. We’ll see if it works out in the end.
The first decision about the stepsisters is the vision of how they fit in the world. Typically they are thought of as “The Ugly Stepsisters”. How are they “ugly”? Is it physical characteristics? apparel? behavior? personality? a combination? Are they mean or just oblivious?
I absolutely love this video of the Stepsisters. It is the older version of “Cinderella”, but I love the contrast in shape and the over-the-top silliness of their costumes. I showed it to my daughter, she said “I like it, but NO”. However, we did decide to play up body types a bit. The girl cast as Gabrielle is much taller than the cast member playing Charlotte, so we decided to give G. a taller, thinner silhouette and C. a shorter, wider silhouette. Originally I thought about raising the waist on C’s dresses to accentuate this, but it just wasn’t compatible with the upcycle process.
I decided that my concept of the Stepsisters is that they are a bit “more” and a bit “off” but not horrifically comical, mismatched or crazy. In C’s case, she is “more”. Her clothes are a bit larger, a bit more over-the-top, a bit more ridiculous. Her bum pad was stuffed fuller, her bows were a bit bigger, her skirts a bit fuller. My Director wanted the maroon/pink color palette used on Broadway, and while I wasn’t totally consistent with that, C. had dark maroon as her color (Madame was a dark purple/plum with black, and G. a brighter pink).
If possible I try to develop themes and repeating patterns in the costumes that a character wears. For Charlotte, she had color, dress shape, sleeve shape, underskirt style and her large bows as repeating themes. Not all of the costumes had every one of the components, but all related to each other in some way. Originally I started with color and dress shape, and the other links developed as I went along.
Hair: We purchased hairpieces from Wildcat Wigs. I had been itching to buy the Foxtail hairpiece ever since I saw it. It didn’t disappoint. It looks totally ridiculous. G. wore hers straight up and C. wore hers out to the side.
For the Ball, and the rest of the show, we selected the “Colette” hairpieces. We ordered two of them and she wore them on top of buns on either side of her head. They had claw clips so went in easily. They were very bouncy. By the end of the show they were showing a bit of wear, but that was in part because they were getting caught on her hairpieces and the fact she bounced. A lot. They were perfect because they,too, looked ridiculous.
I am a huge fan of hairpieces. They do cost money, but the time and stress that is saved during show week, and in hair product, is well worth it.
Charlotte had her overstuffed bum pad. I actually re-stuffed it the week of dress rehearsal. Weeks of sitting on a dress form had squished it, and, over time my perception of the bum pad shape adjusted, and so overstuffing seemed more reasonable in March than it had back in early January. Charlotte also had an embellished hoop, a corset (as described in the bum pad post) and a little lace topper for modesty.
The hoop is embellished with ruffles that were cut off a pair of curtains and rows of pink & blue pre-gathered lace. They extend below the lower edge of the hoop. I had to shorten the top layer of the hoop by cutting off and replacing the waistband. Charlotte is also wearing a pair of bloomers (uns. The lace topper velcros in to the top of the corset. Adding ruffles on to the bottom of a hoop proved to be an easy way to “fake” a petticoat. I think this hoop turned out really cute. This would not be a bad way to make hooped “skirts” for chorus members. I did sew all of this on with the hoops in the skirt. It wasn’t easy. Another time I would at least take the top one out, but probably all of them. This outfit is bouncy and “more”. It also allows her to run off-stage and throw on her Ball Gown.
Charlotte wore her Market Dress in Act I and Act II. In Act I she has a petticoat and a little matching hat. In Act II she wears it over her wedding wear for the shoe-trying-on scene. The skirt is very full. It has a pleated underskirt in the back (to compensate for the lift from the bum pad). In Act I she wears this over her corset, hoop and bum pad. This is a fairly plain dress, but it does have some glitter (gems that were on the jacket), and it moves nicely on stage. The skirt was very full, even over the hoop.
The Ball Gown Charlotte wears is one of my favorites among the costumes I have made. It was everything “more” that Charlotte needed. It was a huge dress covered in bouncy ruffles. It had a large bow on the back, a ruffled petticoat, and voluminous glittery sleeves. She accessorized it with a feathered hairpiece accented with crystals and her pink glitter shoes. She continues to wear her over-stuffed bum pad and her hoop. The bow on the top of the bum pad accentuates the “more”, and provides a stark contrast to the more simple elegance of Ella.
She wore a flowing pink cape with a white “fur” collar to and from the Ball.
This dress is again “more” with a side of ridiculous. The bow on the back is what started the theme of bows for Charlotte. This was a huge sash I found at a thrift store and my daughter fell in love with it. The whole point is to make a statement as she is going up the stairs into the Banquet. All this splendor and the Prince just ignores her. Charlotte has some bows on her shoes to make her tan character shoes noticeable. Complaining about the “heat of a hundred suns” just didn’t seem to make sense when her shoes were pretty blah. She wears a matching headpiece with feathers and gems (although her curls covered much of it up). This dress has split sleeves that echo the sleeves of the ballgown, a pleated underskirt, which echos the pleated underskirt of the market dress, and a huge bow which repeats the bow on the ball gown. This dress also tones nicely with the colors in the outfit that Lord Pinkerton is wearing.
My biggest regret about this dress is that it mis-matches in style with the pink transforming dress that Gabrielle and Ella wear. This dress ended up being a little “more” than it probably should have.
The main characters all attend the wedding in shades of neutrals. Bridal white was reserved for Ella. Charlotte wears an off-white dress with the signature large full skirt, large bow, and a smaller modification of her sleeves. She wears a similar feathered hairpiece.
Charlotte was a really fun character to costume. Overall, I was happy with how she looked, and I am excited to share the process of making the individual dresses in upcoming posts.