September 30, 2009
Exaggeration and Embellishment

What makes a costume different from street clothes? I’ve been exploring this idea for Spin Matsuri, where I will be leading a costume workshop. “Exaggeration and embellishment” is my answer to the question.

Garment shapes are exaggerated by making them more of what they’d normally be: wider collars, puffier sleeves, shorter skirts, longer gloves. Shapes can also be exaggerated by accenting the garment line through fabric choices and construction methods.

Color tends to be more saturated in costumes than in street clothes. If you want the audience to see pastel pink under bright lights, it can’t be pastel, it has to be a true pink. In hooping, we often play in darker settings or in natural lighting conditions rather than theatrical stage lighting, so this is a consideration. Pale colors show up nicely against LED hoops and in the twilight. In the sunlit day, street colors are sufficient.

Embellishments are almost essential. Bigger is better and more is good. Costumes can drip embellishments in ways that would look weird on street clothes; multiple rows of sequins, braid, & ribbon suit a costume where one alone would be enough in ready-to-wear. Trims enhance shapes, too, giving definition to a cuff, bodice or leg. Size plays a part. A costume uniform will have gold braid much wider than any real life general’s. Big spangles, huge rhinestones and oversize applique read well from the audience. Embellishment can also be done with unusual materials - paint, glitter, glue, markers, felt- to cover larger areas quickly.

My Spin Matsuri workshop focuses on simple, no-sew costumes using exaggeration and embellishment. I’ve figured out how to take a long sleeved t-shirt and with a few snips make a three piece costume set of skirt, crop top, and gauntlets. There are a few other designs to share, too. I have an abundance of glitter glue, markers, ribbons, scraps of fabric, odds and ends of trimming, plus spray paint and stencils ready to use. Get your imagination going while the hot melt heats up!

One thing I won’t have much of at the workshop is time - it is sandwiched into an hour between dinner and the glow party on Saturday evening, so I wanted to share this bit costume philosophy now, while I have some time to think. Maybe I will be able to explain it more succinctly to the people who come in to make costumes that evening.

(After Spin Matsuri, I’ll post my “one t-shirt, three piece costume set” tutorials.)

Posted by kuri at September 30, 2009 07:26 AM

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