The "Just Breathe" Costume
I scanned the Seventeen Magazine cover from my own July 1998 issue. The 2nd image was also scanned from Seventeen - it was a tiny image on the index page which talked about the photographer and the makeup used. Other images, I found online. Some of them came fromThe Realm, Drew-Barrymore.org, Rivendell Designs, http://www.moviecostumes.com/, and Lecourtisane's Ever After site.
The makeup artist for Drew Barrymore did a YouTube tutorial on how to do the makeup for this costume!
About the Costume
I have some really big and exciting news! The woman who made (and I mean, physically created) the "Breathe" dress from Ever After emailed me. For real! Her name is Jane Law and if you check out her IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0492332/), she has worked about a million of the best costume movies out there, sometimes as a cutter, sometimes as principal costume maker, sometimes making specific pieces for a movie (ie, for Ever After, she did all of Angelica Huston's costumes and the Breathe dress). She told me the story of whole the "Breathe" dress came to be (it almost didn't, and we have Drew to thank for its inception) and Jane to thank for its creation. AND she sent me some photos of it right after she made it, the corset, and of the trims from it lyin on Drew's trailer floor, that she is kindly allowing me to share here. She also gave me some info on its construction.
She seems *so* nice for her emails - and so glad to hear that we, as costumers and affcionados, appreciate the work that goes into the making of these costumes. I really feel like we do, just beyond caring how they portray a character. I think many of us sew ourselves and really have a curiosity about how these garments go together, and know how much work goes into costumes that may only be seen for mere moments onscreen.
So, here is what she told me about the Breathe dress:
How it got made: "I was on holiday with my family in Florida and my Mother was dog sitting for us. She took a call from Jenny Beavan, with whom, I'd never worked. Angelica Huston was arriving in France, 2 days before shooting, in two weeks time. Anna Kot and Steven Miles [Jenny's assistants] had suggested to Jenny that she ring me. I took a couple of days out of my holiday to fly to LA, meet Jenny and measure the wonderful Ms Huston. Neither of us had a tape measure, we had to buy one. Jenny tried on some hired costumes, to see what suited. She then went back to France. I went back to Florida, to finish the holiday and arrived back in England with eight days before I had to be in france with two finished costumes for Angelica. I met Drew in her trailer after trying Angelica's costumes on her. Jenny thought that Drew and I should have a chat. She had already had the 'special' dress made for her. Drew was very sweet about it but she just felt that it wasn't special enough. It wasn't wasted, she wears it elsewhere in the film. It was an unexpected and delicious project. There were a few unallocated bits and pieces in the wardrobe department which we showed to Drew and I came home with them with permission to buy more. I arrived back in France, in the evening, a week later with the finished dress. The 'finished fit' was arranged for the following morning but Drew couldn't wait. She interrupted her supper and dashed round to try it on. The rest is history.
Note: I'm wondering which dress was the one meant to be the "special" dress! Was the the blue library one?
Details about the dress: "We made two identical dresses. One to be trashed in the filming. I understand that all the costumes we made for the film are now owned by Cosprop, London.
The antique silver foil scalloped lace at the neckline and appliqued onto the sleeves came from a dealer in London. [Hopkins] They had supplied the same lace for Gerard Depardieu's fancy dress ball dress in 'Man in the Iron Mask'. We had sent the leftovers back to them and got it back for this.
There wasn't quite enough of the embroidered silver gauze for the whole skirt so we added in the panel at the back. [both came from New Rainbow Textiles in Shouthall, London]
The satin backed crepe, in the underskirt, is called Mayfair Satin [Henry Bertrand, London]. I had it died from white to a soft pearly grey to be prettier with the silver. Yes, I did cut it on the cross to skim her slim hips. We padded the hem to add weight to it and avoid the 'thirties' feeling and bring it back to medieval. I'm sad to see that the underskirt has dropped a bit and is now a little longer than the overskirt.
The back has an early form of lacing. A single silver cord going through alternating, hand worked eyelettes. Yes it does look like sewing!
The rest of the trim and applique came from the box of preciousness in my workroom.
I wanted the inner corset to be as light as a feather at the front but was like scaffolding at the back. Although the wings were very light, as wings go, they were still heavy enough to be in danger of pulling the bodice away from her back at the top, hence the rigidity.
Sadly, I can't remember the name of the prop maker who made the wings. I think her first name was Nicole. They were made with piano wire and organza and were beautifully and delicately made.
Wow - that is a wealth of information! :-)
And....here are the photos!
"The breathe dress, freshly made, before it left my workroom"
"The corset, made to hold the wings"
"The bits and bobs, lying on Drew's trailer floor"
The slippers were done by Ferragamo. According to one of their ads, quoted and illustrated on http://members.aol.com/gracefalls/slipper.html: "Made of satin covered with Indian muslin and woven with silver thread, is a magical combination of iridescent materials embellished with rich embroidery. Its transparent heel is made of hand-molded plexiglass with a "crystal" effect and is decorated with refined silver beading.
"A few figures give an idea of the work involved to produce the slipper - all strictly hand-done by the Ferragamo Florentine craftsmen: 50 hours of labor, 200 silver pearls, 1000 tiny glass beads and meters and meters of silver thread. The upper was woven and embroidered by the expert hand of a "haute couture" embroiderer."
The shoes are shown in the "Icons of Fashion: The 20th Century" book, edited by Gerda Buxbaum. The caption says: "Salvatore Ferragamo, slipper, iridescent silk taffeta with Swarovski silver crystals designed for the film Ever After, A Cinderella Story". The image from this book is the one at the far left. Thanks to Katarina for the scan!
The last is a photo of the slippers from the FIDM exhibit.
Beachcomber's was nice enough to give me a promo code for anyone interested in the shoes! Just use the code "everaftercostumes" and you will get 15% off the Ever After shoes, all sizes, while supplies last. I was told, " All our shoes are hand-made to our specs so, unfortunately, if I run out of a size, I cannot get it back in." Right now, they are stocked in all sizes! Enjoy!
Costume Analysis & Making of Hints
I was lucky enough to see this costume in person in Palm Beach at the Society of the Four Arts. Though I wasn't allowed to take photos, I was able to stick my nose right up to the costume. I'm posting my notes here and exhbit photos to illustrate my observations.
Wings and Support
The gown looks like it is sewn shut in the back - there are no laces or snaps or anything of the sort. Jane Law, who made the gown, said, "The back has an early form of lacing. A single silver cord going through alternating, hand worked eyelettes. Yes it does look like [Drew is sewn into the gown.]"
Here is Freya's exhibit pic (left), and Kasey's (right).
The sign said the gown had an undercorset made to support the wings. Jane Law told me, "I wanted the inner corset to be as light as a feather at the front but was like scaffolding at the back. Although the wings were very light, as wings go, they were still heavy enough to be in danger of pulling the bodice away from her back at the top, hence the rigidity."
You can just see it peak out in Jamie's (left) and Lecourtisane's pics (right).
While I'm sure the metal struts were heavy, the wings themselves were light as air! The breeze from the airconditioner was making them sway a bit, and Ferd blew lightly on them and they moved!
The wings were netting (not nylon like pantyhose, but almost like tulle) and the edges of it must have been stiffened somehow, because the netting looked like the edges were simply stitched to the metal frame, and I don't know how it didn't just rip! The "vertical" edge only (not the top or bottom) was painted gold! The wing had wire running from to each point of the wing, like veins, and there were three slightly thinner support wires running through the wings as well.
Below is my sketch and two of Kasey's exhibit pics:
Jane Law told me, "Sadly, I can't remember the name of the prop maker who made the wings. I think her first name was Nicole. They were made with piano wire and organza and were beautifully and delicately made."
We figured out that the reason the bodice color never matches the underskirt is because the bodice has an overlay! It looks very much like the sheer stuff used on the overskirt, but ironed out so not much of a crinkle remains! You can see how shimmery it is in Freya's exhibit pic (left), and in Kasey's exhibit pic (right).
The side seams of the bodice appeared to have two rows of top stitching.
Lecourtisane has confirmed that the bodice beading is pearls and seed beads, not pearls and rhinestones. She says they have a metallic luster/sheen so that they sparkle like rhinestones, but they are definitely not rhinestones.
You can see the beading very well in Freya's pics:
And in Kasey's:
Here are my sketches:
At the waist line are two rows of trim - the top is a silver guimp trim with a ribbon running through it. The bottom row is pearls which look like they are sewn on individually. They are slightly more silvery in color than the ones sewn onto the bodice. On the right side (if you are looking at the gown) the nacre has worn off some the pearls!
We now have several excellent photos of the bodice, and all its trim!
Here are some of Freya's:
The trim right at the neck appears to be antique scalloped lace with a frayed edge, with metal tinsel in it. On closer look, the lace has flower petals that look very much like the ones on the lower sleeve, just peeking over the top. I believe they cutout the flowers from this antique lace and appliqued it onto the lower sleeves. Compare below:
Sleeve (right), lace at neck (left). Both crops from Freya's pics.
These flowers are sewn from metallic tinsel of some sort and the petals alternate the thickness and smoothness of the tinsel. But the neckline flowers matched the lower sleeve ones!
Jane Law, who made the gown told me that "The antique silver foil scalloped lace at the neckline and appliqued onto the sleeves came from a dealer in London. [Hopkins] They had supplied the same lace for Gerard Depardieu's fancy dress ball dress in 'Man in the Iron Mask'. We had sent the leftovers back to them and got it back for this."
Lining either side is a heavy bullion trim of 6 petaled flowers and leaves on top of a thick line of bullion, much like the edge of the Arwen mourning gown trim. This trim is used on either side of the front bodice V, down each side of the over skirt in the front, and down the back seams of the back of the bodice.
Starting with the upper sleeve. Here are some really good pictures, taken by Freya. There are plenty of others here.
Here are three of Kasey's closeups:
Moving down, we continue with the lower sleeves. Here are some really good pictures, taken by Freya:
The hem itself is unique because it has 5 rows of something like french knots.
Jane Law, who made the gown told me, "The satin backed crepe, in the underskirt, is called Mayfair Satin [Henry Bertrand, London]. I had it died from white to a soft pearly grey to be prettier with the silver. Yes, I did cut it on the cross to skim her slim hips. We padded the hem to add weight to it and avoid the 'thirties' feeling and bring it back to medieval. I'm sad to see that the underskirt has dropped a bit and is now a little longer than the overskirt."
The overskirt is unusal - it is made from two different fabrics. One is a metallic crinkle pretty much identical to the Thai Silks stuff in ivory/silver used on Arwen's chase sleeves and the Angel dress. The other is a similar fabric only a slightly different shade of silver, and it's chain stitch embroidered in silver with tiny pearls. I sketched the pattern. You can see it pretty clearly in Freya's exhibit photos. Lordofhaladin found what looks like an exact match for the pearl embroidered fabric from the skirt of the "Breathe" gown from Ever After. It's pricy though. Check it out here.
If you were to replicate this and didn't want to embroidery, I think you could probably replicate it with fabric paint and use that applique glue (Alene's?) to glue the pearls on. I used it to glue the sequins on my picnic gown and that stuff is very strong.
The overskirt is formed from panels of these two fabrics that are actually just serged together at the raw edges and then pleated such that it looks like there are two overskirts!
The very center front of the gown is split and the center left and center right panels are the embroidered metallic crinkle (EC). There are 3 pleats on each side. These panels are each sewn to a non-embroidered crinkle (NEC). Then at each side an EC. The way these are attached to the bodice, the NEC panel is pleated under so at the waistline, the edges of the EC panels are touching and the NEC panel is almost like a gore. Next comes another NEC. Then left and right back panels of EC. Then a center back panel of NEC, which was actually done almost like a gore.
It looks like it was split down the back and where the split ends, the back gore of the NEC begins.
So there are 3 embroidered crinkle panels on each side of the dress, 2 non-embroidered crinkle panels on each side of the dress, and a back gore of the non-embroidered crinkle.
Here are some photos and sketches to demonstrate. I traced out where the edges are serged on these two. You can also see how the panels are pleated so that the NEC panels are under the EC ones.
Jane Law, who made the gown, told me, There wasn't quite enough of the embroidered silver gauze for the whole skirt so we added in the panel at the back. [both came from New Rainbow Textiles in Shouthall, London]."
Here is a page on making Fairy Wings
Tracy made an absolutely gorgeous version of the Breathe gown. She says, "It was %85 hand made without the aid of machine, all embroidered panels were chain stitch using like a thick silver metalic string, though i'm not sure what it was called, but it was thicker than embroidery thread. I also sewed on over 1,300 small 4mm Ivory pearl beads onto the skirt through the very think crinkle fabric. A making of is here on my website: http://tracyscostumingworld.weebly.com/danielle-de-barbarac1.html
Contact me. Please note I DO NOT sell costumes or wedding dresses. Please don't ask me to sew you one.