Bejewelled

Layered robes in tafetta and lace

Created for a fantasy character from a seafaring nation with a rich trading tradition, the brief was to show prosperity and also a flair for dancing as well as being practical. Drawing inspiration from folk costume in Europe, the designs of Fashion Designers Manish Malhotra and Suneet Varma, medieval dress, as well as historic images of Orientalism, the finished product managed to survive both a snowy Easter as well as a very sunny June by either adding or subtracting layers and sleeves.

The inner purple layer (not pictured separately), is a simple medieval dress design in cotton sateen that has been modified to an asymmetric cloth button closure, and trimmed in ribbon and lace. It has been made deliberately short to allow for ease of movement and to minimise mud on the hem.

Over this is worn a middle layer of printed cotton, lined with linen, with a 6 metre sari fabric skirt. This is trimmed in teal silk and gold lace and closes with hook and eyes above the skirt. Below the skirt, decorative clasps made from found jewelry and handmade ties keep the skirt from flowing open too far.

The final layer is linen-lined and made of taffeta, embellished with raised gold work, woven braid, lace, crystal beads, and broken down jewelry. This also closes with hook and eye. The skirt is split into four panels, each one decorated with gold scales that add weight to the hem allowing it to swing out more easily when dancing or spinning. The sleeves are removeable to allow for changes in the weather and have a shaped hem to follow the edge of the appliqué.

The ensemble is worn with wide trousers (not pictured) made of silk and linen trimmed in the same braid as the over layer.

To commission a similar over layer would start at £100 undecorated and a similar under layer would start at £120 depending on level of decoration requested and materials chosen. While it would not be possible to exactly replicate this design, a complete set of layers as pictured would cost around £600-700 depending on fabric choice and trim.

Click on the images below for larger images.

Cotton and sari skirt dressUnderlayer showing width of the skirtOverlayer of taffeta and laceOverlayer BackStaggered necklinesSleeve detailLace and scale hemBack detail