Friday, January 20, 2017

Photo Shoot

Here are some lovely photos I had taken of my dress. 

The photos were taken at Red House in Allegheny State Park.
One of my favorite places.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Author’s Statement on Dress Design

          I wanted to create a dress that wasn’t a well-known design. Since I chose “Beauty and the Beast” for my inspiration, I didn’t want to end up with a big yellow rushed ball gown. During my process of figuring out what I was going to do, I was inspired by a “Cinderella” revision, Tanith Lee’s “When the Clock Strikes.” In this revision, Cinderella is evil, but her gown is dazzling, the center of attention, apricot and gold. I did not want to create an apricot and gold dress. That would be my worst nightmare. I highly dislike those colors. But the idea of an ‘evil’ princess, made me want to create a princess gown that hasn’t really been done before, a gown that revealed a darker side within. Of course, now I needed a princess to create this dress for. I wasn’t sure what to do until I remembered that I had already started a revision of “Beauty and the Beast” before I even knew I was taking a Novels and Tales class. It was perfect, and I had my dark Beauty. I needed a time period in which to set my story and to start my design. I chose the 16th – 17th centuries when women wore hoopskirts and bumrolls to accentuate their hips and bum. I wished to create this full skirt look. They also wore corsets or stomachers which create a v-shaped front to the garment. I chose a rose-colored velvet for my principle fabric, a yellow-gold crinkle satin fabric for the inner-skirt, bodice front, and sleeves. I also chose a black gold hinted lace fabric to accent and cover the yellow bodice front. The black lace helps to give my gown a caged and confined look along with the corset. My fabric and colors are rich looking to show that my princess is indeed royalty and rich. My main fabric and lace are dark in color to show her forlorn demeanor and despair, but the soft gold shows her hope to be rescued and the kindness that still lies in her heart.
Works Cited
“Farthingale.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 5 June 2014. Web. 13 December 2014.
“History of corsets.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 9 December 2014. Web. 13 December 2014.
Here are some of the photos I found for inspiration.

And of course my final design.

Author’s Statement on "Beauty or Beast"

Spoiler Alert: Please read my fairy tale revision, “Beauty or Beast,” before reading this.

“One of the most popular tales of magic, “Beauty and the Beast” is known as sub-type C of “the search for the lost husband” (AT425) to folklorists, who have counted approximately fifteen hundred versions. This tale’s history and diffusion exemplify the vital interaction of folk and literary text.1 The most widely known “Beauty and the Beast,” By Madame Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, appeared … in 1756. In it, Belle remains with Bête to save her father, who angered the powerful beast by stealing a rose, the gift his favorite daughter Belle had requested. Bête treats her like a queen, she grows fond of him, but she refuses his nightly marriage proposal. Bête allows Belle to visit her sick father only after she promises to stay no longer than a week. Her envious sisters conspire to keep her longer, however, and she returns to find Bête on the verge of death begging him not to die, she promises to marry him. Bête turns into a prince, and the fairy who advised Belle in the dream rewards her virtue, reunites her with her father, and punishes her sisters.2 (Bacchilega 72)”
            “Beauty and the Beast,” unlike most fairy tales, accommodates two developmental trajectories. It not only charts the challenges facing Beauty and also registers the transformation sustained by Beast, showing how these two antithetical allegorical figures resolve their differences to be joined in wedlock. What makes this story especially attractive is the way in which it is deeply entrenched in the myth of romantic love even as its representational energy is channeled into the tense moral, economic, and emotional negotiations that complicate courtship rituals. Virtually every culture knows the story in at least one of the variant forms of the tale type designated by folklorists as “The Search for the Lost Husband” or “The Man on a Quest for His Lost Wife.”1 While we may be burdened with the version of “Beauty and the Beast” that reflects the social mores of centuries ago, we also have an array of adept rescriptings that address the rich complexities and troubling anxiety of contemporary romantic entanglement (Tatar 25).”
However, many of these elements I wanted to change in the creation of my own reversion of “Beauty and the Beast.”
In creating my revision, “Beauty or Beast,” I took inspiration from Madame Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont’s classic “Beauty and the Beast” and from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” In my tale, Beauty is essentially the beast locked away in the enchanted castle; however, the castle is not Beauty’s for she comes from a neighboring kingdom. She has, in fact, been kidnapped and trapped in this castle by a sorcerer who was once the good king of that castle. After years of being entrapped in this castle against her will, Princess Isabel, as I have named Beauty, has become cold and unkind. While the sorcerer still lived, she spent her days alone locked away ever longing to be rescued, but that rescue never seems to come even after the sorcerer is long dead; and she is still entrapped in the boundary of the castle grounds. The good king’s son, whose name is Prince Alastair, was kidnapped by an evil sorcerer of the neighboring kingdom. This initiates the conflict between the two kingdoms. The good king kidnaps Isabel and demands the return of his son. Isabel’s parents the king and queen of the neighboring kingdom search high and low for Alastair but to no avail. They do find and kill the sorcerer responsible but learn nothing of the boy’s whereabouts. With the great desire to find his only son, the good king turns to the forbidden arts in attempt to locate his son. The good king falls into despair and evil as he delves deeper in to this evil magic. In his attempts to locate his son, he tries to create an animal that will locate his son for him; however, he also wants this animal to be able to speak and take exact orders, so he starts mixing animals and people to create his perfect locator creature. Many of his servants and subjects became the victims of his experiments, and they lost all respect and trust in their king. The king does not succeed, but he does find a locating spell in the meantime. This spell, however, is far too strong for the king to control. Unconcerned for his own life, the king invokes the spell. It, of course, goes terribly wrong, he dies, and the king ends up placing a boundary around his castle trapping all who reside within forever. The boundary does allow people to enter but none can leave, and only one of the king’s blood can release the spell, and the only one who fits that bill is the king’s missing son. Now we have a beauty and a prince but what about beast? Beast appears in the story as a wretched vagabond who is cursed to wear a hideous mask which cannot be removed. The curse has also taken all his memories since before he had the mask. All of society rejects him, but he maintains a kind demeanor in his search for acceptance and salvation from his affliction. So as you can see, I have made Beauty the “beast” and Beast the “beauty.”

“The fairytale, in more than one sense an art form of juxtaposition, prefers to assign good and evil, beauty and ugliness, to two different figures rather than … to unite them in one (Luthi 29).”
            I reject this statement and have made them one. My characters are both good and evil, beautiful and ugly. Isabel is beautiful in appearance and ugly within. Beast is ugly in appearance but beautiful within. Neither is exactly evil, I will leave that to the magic.
After being driven away by a nearby village, Beast, who is at this time nameless, stumbles upon the enchanted castle in a rain storm while searching for shelter for the night. He enters the castle with no difficulty and stays the night only to be awoken by a very strange woman, who is part hen. He discovers he is trapped and he meets a few more odd animal-people including a little dog-boy named Ralph, who oddly enough adores him instantly. The masked man is then introduced to Princess Isabel who coldly tells him to get lost and never to come near her or the castle for his is repugnant. Isabel also names him Beast and time passes. Through his kindness, Beast is finally able to convince the princess to come down from her balcony and join them all. Isabel softens and begins to enjoy the company of these misfits.

“A virtuous, insightful, determined woman can change a beast into a person – such is Beauty’s power.19 (Bacchilega 78)”
But instead of a woman here, I have reversed this portion in the story and made Beast the changer of the beast.
However, tragedy strikes. What Isabel had always waited for had finally comes, a rescue party led by an old playmate and now the champion of her kingdom, Sir Gauthier, but they have not come to rescue her but to kill all who were in contact or afflicted by the evil sorcerer kings magic including Princess Isabel. Beast suspecting this to occur, leaps into action to keep the army of soldiers outside of the cursed castle boundary; for if they enter, they will all be killed, and the soldiers will then be trapped as they are.

“The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistant from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him. For the bliss of the deep abode is not lightly abandoned in favor of the self-scattering of awakened state…. Society is jealous of those who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the door (Campbell 207).”
            This statement is quite interesting and says a lot about this tale but perhaps not entirely the way I intend it to. Our hero is trapped in the ‘supernatural’ place, and he begins to think he could be happy this way. He has found a place where he feels he can belong. He now needs motivation to fulfill his duty, but what is this duty that I mention? Though society is not perhaps jealous of these outsiders, they do indeed come knocking intending to destroy their brief glimpse of counterfeit bliss in order to bring them back to reality.
With only his strength to aid him, Beast holds back the gate against the oncoming hoard. In his desperation as the soldiers stab at him with their swords and spear, Beast declares that no one will enter. Responding to his desperate cry the magic boundary complies; and a great light emanates from the gate thrusting the army several feet into the wood behind. Beast too is sent flying from the gate. The power to maintain this variation in the spell of the boundary saps Beast’s life force, and he is beginning to die. All are confused, and Beast lies bleeding profusely from the wounds inflicted by the soldiers. Isabel runs to his side and commands the servants to bring him inside as now the soldiers are no longer able to enter. They dress his wounds, but he is fading fast. The servants leave to try and find anything that might help, and Isabel stays at his side praying for a miracle. Beast’s life fades before her eyes, and, in attempt to keep him conscious, she declares her love for him. Into Isabel’s hands falls the cursed mask and she looks upon his face for the first time hoping that he will be alright.

“The transformation is magical, and the prince incarnates the ideal combination of virtue, wit, and looks – but, for the moment at least, Beauty’s own wonder when she realizes it is Beast she loves seems to have a stronger fascination.23 Where, indeed, is Beast? Is transformation “real” or does it result from Beauty’s new perception of him? Does the change answer or betray Beauty’s desire? And what kind of transformation has she undergone herself? Who has tamed whom, and how have social dynamics shaped this apparently magical moment (Bacchilega 79)?”
I’ve not always been fond of Beast’s transformation into a prince in Madame Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont’s classic “Beauty and the Beast,” and I have asked myself some of these same questions; therefore, I have created different transformations between Beauty and the Beast. Beast’s kindness changes Isabel’s heart and Isabel’s love for Beast ends his curse to forever wear the mask.
Beast does not move however, and his life is fading rapidly. In desperation, she calls out to the servants for help, but no reply is forthcoming. Isabel falls to the ground and weeps. Her worst nightmare has come true; she is trapped alone in this wretched castle till the day she dies. Just as she loses all hope, up the stairs comes bounding all the servants now fully human again. Isabel is greatly relieved and all seems to be well except that Beast is not moving. She fears him dead. All question how this could be; that they are freed of their curses, and yet Beast still lies as if dead. Isabel sends a servant to check the boundary for she suspects it too to be gone. The servant returns to report that the boundary and the soldiers are both gone. Isabel drops to the floor and weeps for Beast is indeed dead even though she is free.  

“collective disenchantments … demonstrate the significance of the phenomenon of disenchantment in the fairytale, and the fact that it affects not only the individual but the group, as well. The reason for the enchantment is not always revealed. The emphasis lies clearly not on the enchantment but on the disenchantment; the source of the enchantment, where the responsibilities lie, is of less interest to the fairytale than the actual need for disenchantment. That man is a creature in need of deliverance is one of the pronouncements of the fairytale recognizable in many forms (Luthi 143).”
            The enchantments on the servants, Beast, and the castle have all been dispelled or have they?
Isabel takes the mask in her hands and vehemently throws it into the fire cursing the existence of magic. The mask goes up in wild colorful flames and a piercing cry emanates from it as it disappears forever. Isabel backs away from this terrifying display and walks over to Beast, but he still lies unmoving. She and the servants, though glad for their salvation, burst out in tears at the loss of their dear friend. Isabel drapes herself over Beast and cries begging him to return for she loves him and doesn’t know what to do without him for she no longer has a home to return to. Isabel feels a tender hand descend onto her back, and a soothing familiar voice telling her not to cry for he had only just seen her smile for the first time, and he wanted always to see her smile. In shock and realization, Isabel looks up to see Beast alive and smiling at her. It was him, all of him, no longer concealed by a mask. The servants asked him if he knew what had happened. He does. He introduces himself as Prince Alastair the son of the good king or as they had known him, the evil sorcerer king. His identity was concealed by the mask so much so that not even his father’s enchantments had fully recognized his lineage and for that the enchantment would have killed him for trying to change it. At the removal of the mask, however, he became Prince Alastair again, and his presence destroyed the magic in the castle. The mask although separated from him still had hold over him and in his weakened condition would have kept him in a state of death. Upon the destruction of the mask, he was freed completely.

 “He departs from home. While the individuals in the local legend have their encounters mainly in their own village or city or in the environs, the fairytale hero generally leaves home, for one reason or another – often because of a family conflict, 352* at other times in order to fulfill a task, to bring about a disenchantment, or simply “to see the world.” It may also happen that the hero returns home, but that is something relatively unimportant, failing to occur in many instances. The fairytale hero is not one who returns to his point of origin, like the title figures of epics, epic songs, ballads, and war-end narratives …, and one who by nature leaves home to wonder out into the world, in a sense out into the void. He does not know the world which he goes out into; at first also does not know what means exist to enable him to accomplish the task he has been set – sometimes he does not even know what his goals are (Luthi 136).”
Beast or as we now know Prince Alastair, our hero, was actually forcibly taken from his home instead of leaving by choose, and his journey, even though he does not know it, is to return home. This return home is very important in this case. This story is of rediscovery of one’s origin; instead of, ones need to discover one’s self in the world. Beast does not know where he is going or where his path will lead him or of the great task that many wait for him to accomplish. Beast is already in the ‘void,’ a void of lost identity and the ‘void’ of a cruel world. Beast’s journey takes him to his identity and his destiny.
All were joyously happy and soon after Prince Alastair and Princess Isabel are married. They all continued to live in the castle now free of all enchantments or of any sign of them, and slowly they convinced the surrounding villages and kingdoms that there was no longer anything to fear; and they all lived happily ever after.

Fairy tales are wondrous and strange and anything can happen if you can only imagine it. This fairy tale of mine is defiantly different and even goes against many of the conventions that I found on the “Beauty and the Beast” and other fairy tales. But isn’t that what a fairytale is for, for us to instill our own ideas and creativity into a basic story and create something new and possibly better, at least to the creator, and to possibly entertain others along the way. I hope you enjoyed.
The End.
Works Cited
Bacchilega, Cristian. Postmodern Fairy Tales: Gender and Narrative Strategies. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. Print.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with Thousand Faces. New York: Pantheon Books Inc., 1949. Print.
De Beaumont, Jeanne-Marie Leprince. Beauty and the Beast. Ed. Maria Tatar. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1999. Print.
Luthi, Max. The Fairytale as Art Form and Portrait of Man. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984. Print.
Tatar, Maria. Introduction: Beauty and the Beast. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1999. Print.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

All Together

Here it is. It's all together. The only thing left is the pearl detailing around the bodice and sleeves. I'm so exhausted and relieved to have gotten so much done in such a short time. My concept started in November, pattern alteration and testing took a week or two to figure out, construction took maybe five days in total, but most of that was done in only two or three very long days.

But I'm very pleased, and I hope you like it. I sure do.

Finishing Up

Here is the back. I added eyelets and a ribbon as the closure instead of a zipper like the pattern called for. I want it to look realistic. Inside I added a piece to cover the back where the lacing gaps.

To get the tiered look in the skirt, I made a strip to sew it to.

This is the effect it created.


I created my pattern for the sleeves by using the original sleeve pattern to the dress pattern I'm using along with another dress pattern I have that has long sleeves. It worked out wonderfully.

Under the lapel is my detail ruching with the lace and strips of the velvet.

 This is the sleeve lining. I hand sewed into the bodice lining to hide the ugly raw edges.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I've been working on the velvet bodice. The lapel I added has been challenging to pattern and construct, but I think I've got it.

Here is the bodice all sewn together.

I experimented with adding the gold ruched detail to the bodice to see how it looked.

I put together the gold inner skirt. I also bought myself a hoop-skirt which I've always wanted. 

It really gives the skirt that extra touch, and it's really fun.