I haven’t done a post about Madame up to this point, in large part because I didn’t make any of her costumes. However, I did want to show how we did her wedding costume, and as long as I was doing that I thought I would share the rest.
Madame needs, at a minimum, a “shopping/village” costume and a Ball gown. We also had a “Banquet Dress”, a “Shoe trying on dress” and “Wedding wear”. You certainly do not need that many upgrades, but they are fun to have. We did not do completely new costumes, but rather, used a base dress and changed out accessories.
Early in the costume process, as I was seeking volunteers, the older sister of Madame volunteered to make her costumes. The three of us met and discussed shapes, colors and options. The cast member liked the sleeker silhouette similar to that used for the Fran Drescher version of Madame (you can find these pictures in the Carly Rae Jepsen videos), although she thought she would like a full-skirted ball gown. They also thought they would like black to be the main color worn by Madame, and use her purple for accessories. I provided patterns, fabric, thrifted garments and suggestions . . . and let them see what they could come up with.
The Shopping Dress:
Madame had a base skirt that was tulip shaped. It had a sewn in petticoat. She also had a black satin top. The long flowing jacket has a stand-up collar and green glitter designs painted on. This is a great jacket, unfortunately, I don’t think the audience could see most of the decorations. I think the tall collar lent a nicely “evil” look to the outfit. She did have a hat, although it isn’t seen in these pictures. Changes I made included adding a strip of 4″ wide grosgrain ribbon to the bottom of the skirt to lengthen it, reinforcing the stitching on the petticoat and adding long sleeves to the top.
The Banquet dress:
This outfit uses the same skirt and blouse. The fur pieces are attached with magnets. The fur came from a long fake fur coat I had purchased from a church rummage sale for $10 about 6 years ago. This was a great use for it!
In this picture you can see how short the skirt was before the ribbon was added at the bottom. The stiff ribbon also helps to give the skirt extra body, and I think it pulls the different textures together. As I mentioned above, originally the top was sleeveless. That look didn’t fit in with the rest of the cast. I also ended up slitting the back and adding some extra fabric to make the top easier to take on and off.
The Ball Gown:
This dress was definitely a “good enough” dress. Originally, the cast member and her parents wanted her to have a fabulous Ball gown–this was her last show, and she wanted something awesome. Her sister ran out of time to make it, and so they were interested in a rental. I gave them the few ideas I had about where to rent a gown (not many), and crossed my fingers they would find something. In the meantime, I was thrifting and I found a black velour dress that had a fur collar and cuffs. I picked this up for a back-up plan in the event we were doing a last-minute dress design.
And . . you guessed it We needed a last-minute dress. We took the bodice off of one dress, and added the tulle skirt off of another–you can see the lines of silver sequins from the second skirt. I thought the sequins were too harsh when I saw it onstage the first time, and so I added the lace skirt on top of it. I also added the row of glitter tulle and some lace at the bottom, trying to give it a little more drama. I like the top of the dress. I think what I don’t like about the bottom is that the black colors aren’t dark enough. I also think the tulle skirt is too immature for Madame, and I would have likes something a little more massive and in a darker, heavier fabric. In retrospect, Madame maybe needed heavier makeup. I think darker eyeshadow and darker lipstick would have helped.
This was another last-minute addition. The top is a 1980’s velvet dress with some heavy black sequins and beading around the square neck and waist. It had a full black skirt. I slit the skirt and made it into a top.
Then I had the bright idea to make the cape thing. There is a story behind this . . . we had someone donate an outfit that we made a jacket for one of the Political Figures to wear, and the donor was SO excited that her donation was used, and couldn’t wait to come and see it. However, that cast member never made it on stage for that scene, so that jacket never was used (long story . . . deep breath . . . let it go). I wanted to do something with what was left of the outfit, and so I made this cape thing. The idea has possibilities . . but . . . lost something in the translation between my head and the stage. The sleeve drapes are actually pant legs. I think that concept has some potential for making a surcoat-inspired costume, but, like I said, this one just missed the mark. It also had a bit of a train and Sebastian kept stepping on it. Note to self: no trains.
So, now we are to the wedding wear. We started out with a wedding dress and a vintage white church suit with beige and brown trim. I didn’t have a clear vision of exactly what to do, but I figured we could cut the wedding dress up the front and make a jacket out of it, using the sleeves from the suit. My volunteer took that idea bit further, and completely cut the bodice off the wedding dress and just used the skirt and attached it to a shortened vesion of the jacket. She then added a discarded front panel (from the first Ella gold dress) and Voile! A costume!
Here are a few inside views of the jacket and the skirt sewn together:
She continued to wear the same black skirt, and it blended into the wedding scene seamlessly. The back of the wedding dress was bustled up, which gave it some nice drama and an elegant presentation as Madame walked into the wedding. I think Madame opted to take off the top from the previous scene, but she could have left it on and just put the jacket on over the top, as this is a fairly quick change. The jacket look nicely reflected her original jacket. This was a really easy way to create a new look for the wedding scene.
I would have liked another week to tweak these costumes, but the show must go on!