So I had this done and posted once before, and then it disappeared. Due to the time it takes to go though more photos than I care to think about, to find the best ones, and then to try to analyze it all, and how busy my schedule has been, I haven’t had the time to redo it. But now? Well. I have a bit of time before me, and so here I am! Skip the next section to get right to the study.
First, though, I had people on my Facebook page encourage me to start a Patreon page. I hesitated a lot, and sought advice from several people. See, to me, if feels like begging. I can see now why some of my favorite YouTubers and bloggers hesitated so much, and mentioned it like they were pups with their tails between their legs. (Awwwww, look at the cute Bowie doggy!) I always thought it was completely fair that they start them. They were spending their time and money creating stuff to give away for free. But I’m a hypocrite since, when it comes to me, I’m not taking the advice I’d post to them to just do it. But the reality is these studies cost a good deal of money. I’m about $1,000 in for just these two Labyrinth ensembles, not including the time, and, rather than keeping this info to myself to try to lure in commissions, and giving it away which can actually cost me commissions on top of the money I’ve spent. I took a daytrip to London (literally arrived in the morning from out of the country, left that evening back out of the country–border patrol was very curious about why an American was making such a fast trip to England) literally just because I found out a museum had a couple popular regency ensembles on display, and I thought those would make excellent studies. Well, a Patreon really could help offset the costs, both cash out of pocket as well as the time these take, and enable me to do more of them and faster. So I did it. I started one. Aria Couture is on Patreon. There are different levels, including access to far more photos than make the cut for these studies, not only for these Labyrinth studies, but for all of them that I do.
This next part will only matter to those who are claiming my photos as their own: Stop trying to claim the rights to my photos. I traveled a few hours away multiple times to get these photos, paid the cost of parking in downtown Seattle, and a hotel, because driving that round trip in a day is just exhausting. So getting these photos wasn’t at all inexpensive. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time analyzing the construction the best I can, figuring out the ways that disclosed supplies were used (hot glue…?), and anything else I can about them. Prior to my photos, there were no clear photos of either of these ensembles online, at all, and only one known full photo of the Sarah gown, which was a small, blurry photo in Labyrinth: The Photo Album. Thus far, all I’ve asked in return is that I receive the credit for these photos I’ve taken. So please, PLEASE work with me on this. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by trying to claim my photos as your own. But there is a lot for all of us to lose.
– – – – – – –
Now, this is a study best broken down into at least four posts, one on the boots, trousers, shirt, and under-waistcoat, one on their recreation, one or two on the jacket, and one on the hair and makeup to complete the look.
Let us start with the easiest part: The boots.
The are patent poly vinyl, a very inexpensive material in the early 1980’s, and still inexpensive now. Folks, the supplies used really were considered cheap at the time, and most are still fairly cheap now (hot glue…). So, of course, this means that finding some of the supplies (Sarah’s ball gown fabric) is very difficult and costly. Because of course it does. For reasons. That’s why.
(Really, it’s due to fabric stores collapsing into fewer, which means that they don’t need to compete with each other by having different fabrics at lower prices. For instance, when Hancock’s closed, and left JoAnn Fabrics as the only dog in town in nearly every market they were both in, JoAnn Fabrics really don’t need to have a large variety or low prices to get local business. Where else are shoppers going to go? So this means that they’re going to carry less variety at some shockingly high prices that are still ridiculously high after coupons. A lot of websites are also starting to stock the exact same fabrics because that’s what the mills are making. As cheap fabrics rise in price due to the lack of competition, the nicer fabrics are bumped up as well.)
So back to the boots. They could hardly be simpler, which…say it with me…of course means finding anything like them is difficult. It doesn’t help that most boots now have zippers on the inside because consumers don’t like to use the energy to pull on fitter boots, or to actually have to tie them (and consumers write negative reviews about the rare pairs that don’t have zippers). These are about as basic of a style as can be, just a cuffed pirate-style or Robin Hood-style boot. Even then, a lot of those are more detailed. These are the closest I’ve found, and even then, all of them would need some modifying. Click on the pics to be taken to their listings:
The first pair, which is the most expensive and made of leather, doesn’t have a zipper. Both of the other pairs do. The second pair would need the cuff piece cut to be straight, and all of them need to be polished to a shine with a patent polish. If the last pair was stiffer instead of slouching, and had no zipper, those would be the closest. They have the same tongue detail in the front and everything. The second would also be close, if they didn’t have the longer zipper and pointed cuff. The first is nearly perfect, except that that pair lacks the tongue detail.
On to the trousers. Let’s just get the giggling out of the way. I try to keep this blog family friendly, but there is no getting around that crotch. How many of us got our first inkings while watching this movie, and we didn’t understand it? How many of us now still…oh, never mind. *giggles* Anyway, that’s not on accident. Jareth’s mindless toying with some balls… No, not at all on accident. This movie overtly deals with sexual awakening. Part of that is drawing attention to sexuality, and what better way than to highlight the genitalia of a major rock star?
There’s no way to avoid the subject. Jareth’s pants are undeniably tight, undeniably revealing, and, at first glance, almost over the line for the garb of an adult male character in a film with a young teenaged heroine. “We got in a bit of trouble about ow tight his pant were,” [Brian] Proud admits, “but the choice was deliberate.”
Within the contest of the film, Fraud explains, those pants are representative of that young innocent girls’s imagination. “We’re not looking at reality. We’re inside this girl’s head. Jareth has the tight pants because he is many, many things that a teenaged girl related to. He is a rock star.”
So, yes. There’s just no way to be professional when talking about it. I’m sorry, folks, I’m one of those who crushed on Bowie and couldn’t explain it at the time, and now my 8-year-old has a major crush on him and believes he is literally a god.
These high-waisted trousers, but really, we can call them leggings, are make of velour with some stretch to them. That plays up The Bulge better than a woven-backed velvet. As you can see, there isn’t a center seam. Those are so uncomfortable and can create camel-toe. Not so comfortable. Or attractive. The seams instead are from the waist, starting perhaps 12″ across, then heading down and following the groin. This solid piece in the front both I framed by those seams and will smooth and mold better to highlight what’s underneath. (No one knows how hard it is to write this post without laughing.) I shall presume that the back has the standard single seam. Though Bowie was said to be naturally endowed and in need of no help in that area (warning: those links should only be clicked by those who are okay with frank discussions of adult matters), some way was used of “enhancing” what what there. I doubt this was built-in padding in the trousers, but more likely a dance belt with some sort of padding in that. Since I can’t find what I think would be an acceptable image to post, you can see what a dance belt is on this page from Discount Dance. If there was nudity, then that page wouldn’t show it.
I have spent an absurd number of hours trying to track down a video someone told me about that shows Jareth with his ball coat off, showing it to be a vest that is low cut in the front.
A leafy gold metallic brocade was used. I thought it looked like a cummerbund because there is no closure in the front. now, it’s possible that it’s got a full back that closes in the back, or my source may have been mistaken. At this point, the construction would speculation since, in a good 20 hours of searching and watching videos and pouring through photos and stills, I haven’t been able to find anything to hint at either direction. What’s for sure is that there is no front closure that would indicate a vest, though a vest cut still makes more sense than a cummerbund.
Now on to the shirt. Once more, we are left to speculate on the closure. It could be buttons or hooks under the ruffle, or closing somehow in the back. The ruffle is full enough that it would easily close in the front, likely with hooks and eyes. Much easier than dealing with buttons. What we can see is the neck and those ruffles.
The fabric is silk. The texture in the photo below looks like sueded/sanded silk charmeuse. This is a glorious fabric. Some sort of interlining is definitely used in the neck to be able to support that brooch. The light dove silk, called silver in the Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History, is roll-hemmed with a medium grey thread. The ruffle is made from a curved piece of fabric, not a single piece gathered down the middle. The clue on this is how the ruffles lay in those folds. The way that those wedge-shaped folds happen is for there to be more length at the edges than in the middle. A standard gather would have as much fabric in the middle, which would impede the ability for the folds to lay forward. The Sarah gown doesn’t use any unusual methods. But this one? Creative uses ahoy! I don’t know if there’s really a name for the method of making this sort of ruffle. This is something I will demonstrate in part 2 of this study. That’s why I want to make this one along with just talking about it and showing photos.
The final piece of his ensemble, aside from his coat, is that brooch. Unless polished regularly, I doubt it’s sterling silver. It’s possible that it was polished before display, but that would be such a pain that I doubt it was done. Just look at the lack of tarnish even inside the loops of chain. The way the metal has aged looks like that nickel-free metal used in a lot of inexpensive jewelry findings. Considering the complete lack of materials and supplies that would have had to be custom-made with special equipment rather than things that could possibly be found on the stash of typical seamstresses/tailors and jewelry-crafters, this was probably fabricated using whatever mass-produced jewelry findings could be found. The dangles to the sides are on pieces of craft chain with black teardrops, possibly plastic, and the piece down the center is similar to vintage pieces of costume jewelry that I’ve seen, but broken in half, with black cabochons glued on. The top part of the pendant has lost a couple of them. The glue has even yellowed over time. A cabochon on each side is missing. There should be four, as show in the gif below. The faceted jewel in the center is almost certainly plastic. There’s a larger one farther down. The facets are quite large and too perfect to be cheap glass, which are almost always irregularly cut, but don’t have enough shine to them to be glass or crystal. Glass is cut, with lower quality being done too quickly to be perfect, but plastic is molded.
That’s something I love about these ensembles. Cellophane, hot glue, chunky glitter…these beautiful creations were made out of standard craft supplies, and that’s so freaking cool and creative and inspiring and shows that the humblest, most-accessible things can be used to make things that people will still be drooling over over three decades later.
If there’s anything here that isn’t too clear, please comment below to let me know, and I’ll make sure to cover that in part 2 of this study.
Sarah Study Pt. 1
Sarah Study Pt. 2
Sarah Study Pt. 2.5
8 thoughts on “Jareth Ball ensemble: A costume study, pt. 1”
Hi Aria, Thank you for all your hard work and for sharing! I have these saved on my Pinterest, I hope they are helpful: for the vest search Pinterest for : http://57.media.tumblr.com/5bd2b95aedd9e50f08147981bb495da3/tumblr_nch485h6O51sg3vmpo1_250.gif ; and this one: ” (GIF) Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie rehearsing for the ballroom scene. Look at that grin! #labyrinth “. Best wishes, Angela (NZ).
Yes! Thank you! I added that to my Jareth 1.5 study, and credited you. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂 I believe the full video clip you’re looking for is here at 15:32. https://youtu.be/3LPSOnJyKDA?t=932
OMG thank you!!!
That ruffle piece is actual called a Jabot (I didn’t know if you knew, I just found out myself and thought I’d share lol) I’ve seen it seen two ways, one as a solid piece and one done in layers. I think this was in layers…but I could be wrong. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!
Looking forward to the next set!
Wow! This is so so helpful. I may have missed it but can I ask where the current dress and suit are displayed?
Hi there! Thank you so much for these photos and breakdowns. They are invaluable. Also, I wanted to share this fabric that I only just found. While I don’t love Mood, it is the first I have seen available that truly resembles the coat fabric.
What do you think?