Friday, December 7, 2012

Steampunk Irene Adler -- Inspiration

Photo creds to the Lady Mother
This was going to be one huge post about my 2012 Halloween costume, when I dressed up as Irene Adler (okay, a steampunk Irene Adler), but I realized it would be easier to break it up into three parts: inspiration, construction, and completed costume.  To see all three posts, click the label for "Steampunk Irene Adler".

Backstory:  Halloween-time was approaching, so I asked a friend of mine if she wanted to dress up as a fine Victorian lady with me (I had just bought a vaguely-19th-century-esque pattern from Buttericks).  She had already planned to be Sherlock Holmes, and a few of our friends were going to dress up as the BBC versions of Sherlock and Irene Adler with her.  I promptly latched on to their group as a Victorian Irene Adler.  Then I converted to a Steampunk Irene Adler because, well, I like steampunk (and I wanted to accessorize!).

First, I did my research.  Irene is an actress/singer, born in the States in the late 1850s.  She came to London in her late twenties, so she probably met Sherlock Holmes in the late 1880s, which was exactly the period I wanted!  I happen to have a thing for the bustles of that period.

Second, I looked toward the movie for some inspiration though I normally frown on this kind of thing.  I remember liking the movie when I saw it in 2009, but not really liking Irene all that much.  Anyhoo, here are a few of the pictures I looked at to see what most of America thinks Irene looks like.

I thought it was interesting to notice that the pattern I bought and was already planning to use was very similar to the movie costume.  

I like Sherlock's gun.  Not so much Irene's.

Is that a dead flower on her hat??
Once I was done salivating over the movie costumes, I started (trying) to design my own take on Irene. I wanted to make a late 1880s dress with a huge bustle (see the skirt below) but in red because red can potentially be used for a few more costumes (most notably, a steampunk Star Trek captain and Madame Red from Black Butler).

Sadly, there were no cheap red fabrics at my local fabric store so I chose a purple polyester and a super-synthetic green to line the jacket.


Then I wanted to see if purple was a thing during the Victorian era.  (Interesting that I didn't care about this until I actually bought the fabric...)  It is, and here's a Victorian wedding dress from 1880, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society, to prove it:
Well, that's it for the inspiration for the dress.  Now onto the construction!

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