It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Rachel, and realise her costume from inspiration to final product.
So lets start at the beginning. It won't come as a surprise (when you see the finished costume) that the original inspiration for this costume was an image of Kendall Jenner on the Victoria Secrets catwalk show 2019.
Well, I thought...game on!
From my original source material the specific parameters that Rachel had set were the colour scheme of black and silver, that it had a cropped bolero long sleeve top and wings. From these points I could begin to create my own version...because who wants to just copy? Not me. This feather backpiece was more than likely created by Killer (but I am hard pushed to find any definite source...I have tried) who has been a wing maker for Victoria Secret fashion shows for many years. To read more about Killer and her work read this article Inside Killer Studio.
The very afternoon Rachel made her enquiry I was off sketching, planning materials and thinking about how I was going to make it.... I was so excited!
Finding feathers within budget is always the biggest problem...and unfortunately I have to source them from China to bring the costs down for almost any project that includes feathers. Feathers can take over a month to be shipped, and the financial climate since Brexit has made importing any materials....well, you get the jist.
For these wings I decided that keeping them strong and spiky was a must for the strength of the design so I chose to use layers of pheasant feathers for the main body and lady Amhurst tail feathers sparingly to give it more height. The original Killer version is almost a circular halo behind Kendall Jenner, but I wanted mine to have more central height to properly frame Rachel and give her more stage presence.
While I built the wings I was also cracking down on the other elements of the costume: the bikini and super cropped bolero.
For the bikini I wanted to use the supercool strappy style that is fashionable in lingerie design at the moment. It nods nicely to the VS designs whilst not copying them. It's also a style I have been developing since 2016 and I was really glad that Rachel let me run with my idea's and didn't at any point put the brakes on me. (thanks Rachel) I proposed using sequin fabric for the main body of the bikini because it would just shine on stage under the lights and then I sourced some lovely black lace to overlay the bra and panties so I could bring in my black elements into a cohesive design.
The black lace was also useful for balancing the costume, especially in the bra. Sometimes if a costume is all one block of colour on a large busted figure it will visually make the overall look very top heavy, and Rachel and I both agreed on this overall effect. Originally I was going to use AB crystals on the stars and to decorate the bra...but when I put them on they just looked too 'busy' compared to the stark strong design...so I vetoed them and opted for crystal clear instead.
Every time I watched the video of Rachel walking around in her wings the whole backpiece took on a motion all of it's own, the stars were especially bouncy so I wanted to bring some of that movement back into the costume...so I added some diamante dangles and we were cooking on gas!
Then I finally got into the bolero using lace offcuts from the bra to add detail to the collar and cuffs and add stability to those area's to take the weight of the diamante detailing.
I am still waiting for show pics...will add them as soon as they are available.