Friday, 16 December 2016

Embracing my Inner Geisha

The ideas, process and motive behind the creation of my Geisha costume at the end of my first year at university...

A Geisha girl is someone who hides behind her beauty. The snow white face and the rosy red lips create a fascination to identify the true character behind the mask. Through my garment, I wanted to capture this idea of fascination and the willing to know about the Geisha girl, who she really is.

It stemmed from the theme of ‘Objects of Desire’, with the intention to make a garment that was precious, fragile, detailed and desirable. The garment had to include a corset our own design, choosing what fabric to use and the type of corset; however, the colour themes given on the brief were neutrals and pastels, something I found difficult to adhere to because of seeing corsetry worn by burlesque stars such as Dita Von Teese, wearing seductive reds and deep purples which, unfortunately, I would not be able to use in my designs. After gathering a numerous amount of research based on corsetry from books such as Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed (Harold Koda, 2001) and Designing Costume for Stage and Screen (Deidre Clancy, 2014), I came across a black and white picture of a Geisha girl and noticed the obi she (and others like her) wear. This is where my decision for creating a Geisha costume was finalised, as I thought that the corset could replace the obi, adding a modern and desirable twist to the traditional Geisha dress.

The garment is a split panel skirt, an asymmetric wrap top with flared sleeves and an underbust corset. To capture the essence of a desirable Geisha girl, the fabrics would have to be the perfect colour, have the perfect pattern and have a minimal weight to it for the model to float down the catwalk with grace. From fabric sourcing and creating colour boards, 20-25 different designs were drawn to decide what that graceful garment would be. Some of the designs were supported by colour and fabric swatches in order to understand how each component of the garment would work, if it all, successfully. This aided me to select the colours of pastel blue and gold which was then inputted into my final design.

The skirt and top were made from polysilk, with the gold panels being an oriental cotton/satin, and the underbust corset made from rosebud coutil with white cotton drill and metal eyelets on the front before finishing it off with flossing on the boning channels. These are colours which I would not associate with the idea of seduction and desire; yet ‘Objects of Desire’ also meant producing something that was precious like an antique, so I believed these two colours complimented each other well for my costume to be a wearable antique.

This was my first full garment designed, created and made by myself with the support of my tutors, family and friends and I am very pleased with the result of it. The photo-shoot outdoors added to the authenticity of a Geisha girl as I was surrounded by nature: quiet and mysterious like a Geisha, hiding behind her beauty.

Photography by Kayleigh Anne Steel

This may possibly be my last blog post before Christmas so I would love to wish you all a very Merry Xmas and a wonderful New Year   
VA x

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