Phantom of the Opera Slave ensemble (stage version)

The skirt alone used about 120 YARDS of trims and velvet ribbons. The heading for the bust and arm drapes used more than 2,000 beads, and each strand was beaded to match the original US versions. The cherubs on the “shield” at the bust were hand-molded by me. All the bits that look like appliqués are actually various trims that I manipulated into position and sewed down. The twisted trim over the hips is made of gold cord that I twisted and sewed down, about 5 yards per side. I don’t want to think about how many yards of trim went into an ensemble that looks so simple!

Every other fringe on the skirt was painted in the same way as the stage originals. I’m not personally a fan of using paint and adhesive to hold on 24k gold dust, but it’s what was done for the original, and aside from using heavy plastic pony beads (good luck finding glass beads with very large center holes), there simply weren’t any other options, so I did what was done.

For stage costumes, certain aspects of costumes are designed with the knowledge that audience members won’t see them close enough to see the little things like this. But it sure presents a quandary for someone recreating it when it will be seen close up! Underneath the lacing in the back is a modesty panel of deep green velvet so that, if the wearer doesn’t want it all the way tightened, she won’t have to worry abut skin showing through.

Ah, but what about the “butt tiara”? Well that hooks on on each side, and there are a series of eyes on each side so that it can be repositioned to keep centered, and the modesty panel has trim fringes that match the front at the bottom to prevent a gap in the fringiest skirt. The entire thing is lined in black cotton drill with steel boning throughout. The cups are slightly padded by design to give the oomph shown on the stage dancers.

An IMPORTANT note about these photos: Corsets are difficult to photograph, at best, on conventional dress forms. They are even more difficult when the wearer-to-be is petite, but the torso length of your shortest dress form is not. The ensemble shown was made for a 5′ tall lady So the bust of the form as well as the shoulders are high for this ensemble, higher than the wearer’s own body will be. Also the form itself is stiff, so I was unable to satisfactorily adjust the waist. Therefore there is more slackness in the corset’s waist in these photos than they will be on the wearer herself.

I did make the matching robe, but the photos ended up too washed out.  Lesson learned too late: When using a new DSLR camera, check the photos on a computer before shipping an ensemble.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

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