For our costume project we looked into the book The Canterbury Tales by Jeffrey Chaucer.
We had to look at various short stories and decide which six characters to design characters for. We had to pick three female and three male characters. I decided to chose The Elf Queen, The Sexy Older Woman and Griselda (designing for the wedding dress) for the female characters and The Physician, The Apprentice and Lucifer for the male characters.
I began by looking into the the styles of the middle ages across the different social classes. I looked into the different styles of cote and surcote, as well as the different undergarments. This gave me a better understanding and basis for the start of my designs. By looking at these designs I could have the traditional dress as a starting point but add a more contemporary twist to the costumes....especially with the fairytale characters.
While researching different ideas I came across the book bestiary. Choosing characters became easier after researching the Bestiary, the process of describing various kinds of animals, especially in the Middle ages, with a moralistic tone. The characteristics of Chaucer’s characters are very similar to some animals and once you have identified the character as an animal, understanding their lives and motives becomes easier. For example for the character costume of Griselda's wedding dress I looked into characteristics of a swan which heavily influenced my design. (add image)
The characters that were most influenced by animals were the elf queen and lucifer. For the elf queen I looked into woodland animals but was mostly influenced by deer. I used the idea of the deer antlers as a crown to show the royal status of the elf queen but also tie in the woodland nature of this character. For lucifer I looked at more animals in the bestiary. I looked at eagles for the wings, deer for influence on the horns as well as goats for the horns and legs. I wanted to look closely at the tale of lucifer being a fallen angel so played more with the imagery of the wings and used various red shapes to show the contrast between angel wings and wings of the fallen.
I enjoyed working on these character costumes as stressful as it was it allowed me to open my mind to new influences that have increased my knowledge of the subject area. I have learnt about researching into different historical eras and how they can influence/affect my designs.