RENT Angel’s “I’ll Cover You” ensemble

Oh yes, 80’s color-blocking! This was for a Chicago-area production of RENT. In the scene in which this ensemble is worn Angel also wears a red jacket. Somehow the actor playing this role managed to find a spot-on CAD rendering of the skirt and sweater that was very helpful in making this ensemble. The skirt is a A-line in the front with pleats in the back. It closes on the right side with a button above a seam-set “invisible” zipper. While other versions of this skirt for other RENT productions have used general flower prints or appliqu├ęd random flowers on, I decided to hand-paint them to match the original as close as possible. Considering the character of Angel, this felt more appropriate and truer to the character.

Because this is for a stage production, and it is incredibly hot under the lights, I used a lighter twill than I would have for a non-stage skirt and left it unlined to lessen the amount of heat it will trap. The stage lights will reflect off the white so that a slip won’t be needed. The top is made from a light ribbed knit fabric, again light due to the stage lights. I bought it in white so I could dye it to the colors I wanted, especially the sleeve that is right at the point of being either orange or red. The sleeves will be shorter on, as is the nature of knit fabrics. It closes up the front with a darker zipper, as is shown in the CAD rendering.

I tucked the top in for these pics to show the skirt better. The ruff, which shows a little fluffier in stills, is separate, and has elastic to pull on over the head. In the film stills it’s a bit smaller, though in stage productions it tends to be fuller so it can be seen from the audience. Subtle details are lost once you’re several rows back. Since this is for stage, I went with a fuller ruff. The actor has secured tights for the role.

More photos are available in this Facebook album.

RENT Angel’s Santa top and belt

This Santa top and belt are for the character of Angel in a Chicago-area production of RENT that is opening soon (link in first comment). I used a wonderfully soft velvet and fur that’s hard to not cuddle up with. Because this is intended to be danced in on stage, I used some different techniques with its creation, such as not Frenching the seams, which can stiffen them, and the fur around the neckline and front edge is sewn only on one side so that, when being danced in, it can move freer and flow like the one in the film. The underarms have gussets – squares of fabric – to give a little bonus room to move. Martial artist pants (and the jeans worn by actors such as Chuck Norris – insert joke of your choice) have gussets in the crotch so the seams don’t split. The coat closes at the waist with a heavy-duty hook and eye and is left open from there on down. The fur used for this isn’t your standard crafting-quality fur. It is a high-quality, expensive fur intended to mimic not only the look of fur from a distance, but the look up close and the texture and movement. I also use a little trick in cutting so that fur, whether real or faux, that I use keeps that soft look to the bottom edges instead of being blunt. The belt is a wide elastic with hand-drawn zebra-inspired pattern with a hidden word (can you find it?) and symbolic imagery. It closes in the back with a heavy brass buckle with four slot options for sizing, though being elastic, it will be comfortable on any of them. I used elastic so it will be fitted, yet not hinder movement.

More photos are in my Facebook album dedicated to this coat and belt.