Laura Ella, UK
Photographer and Editor - Laura Ella
Inspiration came from the architect Santiago Calatrava. I was introduced to this architect through a collaborative piece with a glass artist on my master’s degree. I immediately fell in love with his clean, bright structures, which are actually inspired by the human anatomy and birds. For my Calatrava costume design, I took the curves and linear details of the rear elevation of The Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts opera house in Valencia, Spain. Then translated these lines as costume panels, surface pleating and exterior structure (hip fins). I utilised similar colours from this structure in my design; blue hues, grey and black. I used reflective tape on the hip fins to reflect the bright whiteness of the building when in sunlight and to add another dimension to the whole costume. Other design influences came from 18th and 19th century costume, using a corset structure to emphasise the curving rigidity of the building. The partlet is an extension of the corset to help balance the large hip fins. I had hoped to create a pleated structural skirt, but time was not on my side.
I am trying to start up my costume making business using only vegan friendly fabrics and findings (with help from the Vegan Society), so for this entry I tried to only use natural fabrics (cotton) or synthetic materials (reflective tape backed with cotton). I initially began designing and cutting on a 19th century silhouette mannequin (with an incorporated bustle) but I couldn’t figure out how to create a laced corset with this bustle extension, so I altered it to fit a standard mannequin and gain shape with the hip fins. I usually draw up initial designs to get my ideas flowing, but when it comes to the construction I often alter it. This time I tried to stick to the design as much as I could. In past projects I have been guilty of adding too much surface pattern/colour/texture, but to reflect the clean surface of Calatrava’s architecture, I limited my textile applications to fabric paint on the partlet and tie-dye on the hip frills. This helped to break up the flatness of the costume. On reflection, I could have used a shiny surfaced fabric to achieve a colour variation. Other resources I used were the skills I gained at university, such as cutting on the stand and flat pattern drafting.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
This was my first entry! Entering has given me a purpose, something to keep my mind active and make me feel useful. Since I graduated in 2017, it has been daunting and impossible to gain industry experience in costume due to my ‘limited experience’. When I joined Foundations Revealed, I felt like I was ‘home’. The support in the Facebook group and through the videos has made me feel like I can enter. It doesn’t matter what your skill level is; if you love to create, can creatively problem solve or just love costume then enter! You won’t be ‘judged’ or criticised, just encouraged.
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