Sunday, 30 October 2011

Sexy Monkeys and Filthy Cave Girls...!

I recently had the pleasure of being asked to design, style and make the costumes for Reeson's music video for her newest single 'Take It Off' which is to be released in November. The brief was very '2001: A Space Odyssey', and the director Robin Schmidt and Reeson's Manager, Natalie wanted the concept to be all about the evolution of man (or woman!) from naughty monkeys to sexy cave girls and boys.

The main vision they wanted from the costumes, was that there were tear/rip away monkey costumes that could be ripped and peeled off the body like a skin, to reveal the bodies of the cave girls beneath, as if they were evolving and shedding their skins. Obviously this set my creative brain into a whirl, and we went through many different ideas, such as latex, and lycra, and tear-able silk... But the problem was, the dancers has to perform a full and vigorous dance routine whilst wearing these monkey costumes, and so they had to be structurally sound. I found that a 'power mesh' fabric that is often used for ballroom dance costumes to look like skin worked really well, and would tear when needed, but that was stretchy enough and sound enough to make the costumes wearable while dancing.

To keep the monkey costumes cheeky and sexy, without drowning the dancers in fur and covering the line of their body, I made full mesh bodysuits in brown, and then just applied black fun fur to form a 'bikini' for the girl monkeys, and 'pants and leg warmers' for the boys, as well as full fur backs for both sets. This gave the costumes enough of a 'Monkey' vibe, when worn with a full face monkey hood mask, but showed enough of the dancers bodies to allow the tongue in cheek, sexiness of the whole concept to read. They also looked rather like old 60s Sci-Fi/King Kong/Planet of The Apes movies, which was great for the retro vibe!

I put the backing dancers all in black and brown 'Chimp' like monkey designs, and put Reeson as the lead, in a foxy ginger fur coloured 'Orang-u-Tan' costume to make her stand out! Her partner in crime in the video was the awesome Super Massive Raver and as he was the 'King of The Jungle' I made him a silver backed Gorilla! Complete with in character 3D Specs and Raver accessories!!!

Once the monkey's had torn away their costumes to reveal their
Cave People persona's, we switched to full on sexy ripped and torn cloth costumes, customized with lots of lovely cold mud!! Much to the dancers's dismay, I used REAL mud for extra authenticity! It was cold, and I think they werent too pleased at me smearing them in chilly wet dirt!

I made up some really simple loin cloths for the boys, with lots of skin on display! and some short and skimpy tops and skirts for the girls! All made from super cheap and easy to tear calico. Once the boys and girls were dressed and made up by the amazing Make Up artist Marcela Honda and Hair Stylist Seval Mustafa, I then just applied mud and the age old Costume Breakdown trick of tea and coffee to stain and dirty up the costumes in true Caveman style!

For the leading lady Reeson, I wanted her to look super hot and sexy and stand out from her backing dancers, but still in the same concept and colours that were within the theme. So I designed and made her a Cave Girl dress in a shiny rust coloured lurex fabric which picked up the amazing colour her Hair Stylist Seval had used. A halter neck always suits her amazing figure, so I cut it as a low plunge neckline and a thigh high leg split to show her killer pins! I then teamed with with a real leather underbust corset, for which I used the raw edges of the leather hide to give it a real authentic Cavegirl look and match the raw edges of the ripped costumes.

Teamed with some awesome sourced jewellery, a pair of wicked knee high wedge lace around fur topped boots, I think you'll agree its a pretty killer outfit! IN fact, the whole cast and crew were left speechless when she emerged from her dressing area in full costume!

We worked right until it was dark, and shot some amazing scenes against the jungle setting the crew had created. The dancers from Winters School Of Dance were incredible! The Parkour and Free Running Boys were doing somersaults and flips that were darn impressive!!

All in all it was a fantastic shoot to work on, and the whole cast and crew put in an incredible effort to get it looking amazing! Its all in the hands now of the editing team! Cant wait for the realease so I can see the full and final product! Keep your eyes and ears peeled for REESON coming to a dance floor near you! All the pics from behind the scenes can be seen here: on Reeson's Facebook Page, taken by the amazing Assistant Director Martin Wan.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

And the winner is......

... this lovely lady!

I held a competition on Twitter a few months back for one lucky follower to won a bespoke handmade corset, which they would design themselves, choosing the colour of the satin, the style and the trimming themselves, with my expert styling advice of course!

All followers had to do to enter was Tweet the phrase 'I'm following @CostumesByWendy for the chance to win a made to measure corset'! And we had a LOT of interest and a fair few Tweets! It was great to see social media working at its finest, and see the message spread quickly!!

I wrote down all the names of the Twitterers who entered, and pulled one out of a hat, (actually it was a tuppaware bowl!) and the lucky winner was a Miss Beth Hallam from Sheffield!

She was very excited and we set about discussing her design ideas on the phone... She knew she wanted something quite classic and historic looking, so I asked her to look for some images online of things she liked, and together we came up with the concept of chocolate brown satin, with an ivory lace overlay.

I sent her clear instructions on how to take corsetry measurements, which she emailed me back. The first process is to put together what is called a 'toile'. This is a mock up of the corset, made in cheap calico fabric, to practice the shape and fit before I cut into the top satin, which is more expensive.

We fitted the toile, and actually, it was a pretty darn good fit!! There were a few minor tweaks to the fit, but overall the shape was perfect!

I showed Beth some samples of chocolate brown satins. The satin used for corsets is a specialist satin backed on extra strong cotton, which makes it super strong, and able to take the pull of the lacing which squeezes the body in. Beth chose a beautiful 'Bitter Chocolate' satin which has an almost dark purpley/aubergine hue to it, and a rich deep colour. I also showed her some lace samples for the overlay, and she chose a stunning French Chantilly lace in ivory, with a slight sparkle glass bead throughout.

After looking at some of my sample stock corsets, Beth decided she liked the look of the vertical exterior bone channels in the contrasting colour. This is what forms the 'stripes' that go down the body of the corset. This aids the line of the piece, as it draws the eye down, adding length and follows the contours of the shape to give a really feminine and striking shape, enhancing the curves the corset gives the body.

We then also decided to add an ivory satin frill around the top edge as an extra design feature.

There was just one more fitting to perfect the shape, and then I finished the piece, lining it fully in a soft satin to make it super comfortable against the skin, and as beautiful inside as on the out!

The corset laces down the back, but also has a front 'busk' opening so you dont have to take all the lacing cord out each time to get it on. I trained Beth, and her lovely friend Paula how to lace the corset properly to get the best pull out of the shape! The corset contains steel spiral boning that work to squeeze the stomach in, while lifting the bust, and thats what gives that amazing hourglass shape!!

As you can see from the pic, she looks beautiful! I styled her for her professional shoot which we did with the wonderful Laurence from Togstar Photography in my fully equipped photography studio, and she had her hair and make up done by the talented Laura Glover.

All in all, it was a fun piece to make, and I think she looks pretty darn gorge! Best of all, she gets to keep her prize corset and wear it anytime she likes!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

So I thought I'd do a little blog to show you our new studio!
The picture on the left is me and my lovely assistant Fallon, our tools at the ready!

Moving the industrial sewing machine to the studio was a bit of a struggle but with the help of some nice strong removal men we've settled in quite nicely.

The studio is part of an old police station in south east London and the building is amazing. The loo is an old holding cell... it's quite surreal to say the least! It's great to be in a building with other creatives and I think we're going to be really happy there. The other thing to note about the studio is it's in the basement so when we're in there we're a little bit oblivious to what's going on in the outside world. The warm weather last week went unnoticed as we toiled away underground!

We are next door to some photographers and last week one of them brought his super cute pup Alfie to work. It was VERY hard to get any work done with that cute little face looking at us. Too many belly rubs and not enough sewing when Alfie's around!

At the moment I'm still working on the Hornblower suit, so far so good although sewing on all the gold braiding is going to take ages!

Panto season is coming up so we're getting prepared for that and we also have some quite exciting projects in the pipeline... I'll update the blog when I can tell you more but it's going to be a fun winter at Costumes By Wendy HQ :)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Exciting new images coming soon!

First new blog in a while! I have been so incredibly busy with everything that I havent had much time to update my blog!

I have some excellent images to come soon from the shoot with the winner of my Twitter corset competition, as well as a gorgeous shoot with my JessieJ inspired costume, worn by a Twitterer who got in touch after JessieJ herself re-Tweeted about my search for a model/lookalike!

Last week I was in working with the English National Opera on costumes for their new show, 'The Marriage Of Figaro' which starts in a few weeks. It was all corsets, bodices and cartridge pleated skirts! Very historical! Seems like the show is going to be very unusual though, and I even had a sneaky peak at the staging while I was in the theatre, and its going to be fab! Tickets can be bought here:

I am working on a replica of a Naval 'Hornblower' costume this week for a gentleman who's friends clubbed together and bought him a 'CostumesByWendy' voucher for his 70th birthday! This way he got to chose what he wanted me to make for him! And this was the reference we are working from. Its going to look like the image above, which is a historical original from the Greenwich Maritime Museum. The gentleman has apparently legendary costume parties, so we are aiming to get this piece finished for Christmas in time for a fabulous costume ball!

Panto jobs have started coming in thick and fast! As has a really exciting project for the next music video for the awesome pop diva 'Reeson', which I am very excited about!!! More on that soon!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Reeson Launch Party Costumes

Due to some technical issues, I was struggling to update the Blog! But its all sorted now and is up and running!!

The last few weeks have been pretty busy! We had the "Reeson" VIP Launch Party, which was an amazing night, and the change to see the new Electro-Pop diva perform her new tracks, including her debut single 'Fly' which will be released later this summer! So watch this space as she's gonna be HUGE!

The brief for the costumes was all about 'The Phoenix'... So I immediately thought colours, feathers, pop brights, textures, bird shapes and sex appeal. We wanted something that was cool and edgy, but that still said something about who she was, and was fun!

I designed a smoking hot wet look lycra body suit with a plunge neckline and high leg to elongate the body line. I teamed this with feathers at the bust for an edgier look, and added feathers to the legline to create a skirt effect under the bodysuit.

I then added a full pleated half skirt on a belt clip, in brightly coloured organza to nod towards the 'tail feathers' of the Phoenix. This also added a 'bustle' shape to the over all silhouette which looked fab on stage! She then removed this during a lyric for the catchiest (in my opinion!) track 'Take It Off'!

I then also added a full collar made form netting and feathers which she wore for the final song only as a real impact statement look to finish with.

I put the backing dancers in simple, but cool looking black leotard/bodies with a mesh plunge detail at the front, and then added a small amount of the same feathers used for Reeson's costume to one shoulder on each girl. We then made these AMAZING wings which were completed detachable. The were painstakingly made in organza feather shaped cut outs in different coloured reds and yellows. The moved fantastically as the dancers moved, and framed Reeson for the performance!

All in all the showcase was amazing, and she looked fabulous!

Monday, 13 June 2011

My first steps into the world of Blogging!

Hello followers! Though I doubt there are all that many of you as yet! This is my new blog! I will using it to keep you all informed of up coming and exciting work projects, current work that I am involved with, and also as a place to discuss all aspects of costume and clothing. I'm not sure where it will lead! But rest assured I will do my best to keep it fresh and exciting.

I also welcome you all to comment and leave feedback, and join in the discussions!

So, as you may have seen, the new expanded website is now up and running... What are your thoughts? Its been a work in progress for a while, but is now up and live and I am really happy with it. Its a greater representation of what I do, and has many more images of my work. I hope you like it! Many thanks to Matt Tyas at CMD Creatives, and Dan McDaid for all their hard work.

If you haven seen it already, please go take a look:

In the mean time, here's one of my favorite shots from the Gallery.

Punk Burlesque pink Chinese brocade satin corset with hip frills and panier cage