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Anyway, here we go! A breakdown of the designs of each of the MLP gala dresses I did this year, continuing with Rarity!
I will be making collages like these for all the dresses, but until then to see the entire group photo, click here,
.See Applejack here.See Twilight Sparkle here!See Pinkie Pie here!
Let it first be known that I am 100% aware that I am not a crazy awesome artist like many of my friends, and so keep that in mind when pointing and laughing at the mitton hands.
*********You make this sound as if it’s going to be hard!
Whew, this one took a while to organize my thoughts on! I really have way too much to say about this dress. Tried to condense the short novel I had originally written into something more concise.
Rarity’s dress was every bit a drama queen as she is (not Betsy, she’s a doll) in the show. It was the trickiest to construct, required the most thought, and took the most time out of all the dresses to complete. Conversely (and oddly), it was also the easiest pattern for me to make and fit. The bodice is steel boned, lined, and entirely flat lined, lined, and encased. The zipper had to be installed by hand to avoid ugly stitching scars in the velvet (it’s actually quite sturdy). The bustle cage I constructed sits under the skirts.
There is a combination of velvet, taffeta, and silk used in this dress. The pink was a sheer embroidered silk that I flatlined against a pink taffeta to eliminate the opacity and increase its strength.I made dresses…beautiful, beautiful dresses!
Rarity was the one that I chose to get risky with the design. Why? Besides the obvious reason that the fashion diva would be the one to take risks, let’s all be honest: her gala dress was a little silly in the show. It was designed for little girls to think it was amazing, but when they grow up they realize that it’s actually rather garish. I didn’t think it was horrible, but I really wanted it to be amazing, and I thought it had potential to be.
Twilight is the star of the show, but Rarity is our gala ringmaster, and I wanted her presence to be as dominant as Twilight’s. Key words: as dominant. I considered (for like, a half a second) going for a Georgian/Rococo style, and getting all Marie Antionette up in here (you guys, I have a deep, secret obsession with the ill-fated queen of France. I read ALL THE THINGS on her. She is fascinating), but being honest with myself, I knew that a pannier gown would not only dominate Twilight, but over power everypony else as well. And since this wasn’t Rarity’s butterfly wings outfit, I thought it better to keep her in balance with the others.
Really, I knew from the start that Rarity would be flavored Victorian. I already determined that Twilight would be the one with the classic Cinderlla hoopskirt, and I wasn’t going to repeat any silhouettes. The MLP creators did a really nice job at making each character unique in the show, and I felt it was important that their gala dresses reflect that. It was obvious to me, looking at Rarity’s dress in the show, that there was a ton of fabric there – just as much as Twilight’s and Pinkie’s – but that it was more swept back to create a train…or a bustle…or…BOTH?! Awwwyiissss, both. Guys, it’s like the skies opened and the angels came down signing and showering me with Jamba Juice rain.
Because my options were based off of distinct historical trends, however, I realized that regardless of which silhouette I chose, I would need to be careful not to make Rarity’s dress look too much like a historical recreation, which would make her stick out from the group. Rather, I wanted something clearly influenced by it, but that wouldn’t feel time warped at a modern event.Pinkie Pie, that color’s too obtrusive, wait until you see it in the light!
From this collage, the color difference between my renderings and the physical dress is quite apparent. So are the differences in how the fabric itself can photograph. This was a deliberate choice made for visual balance, and character alignment. But it’s this color variance that had me most concerned about how the dress would be received. This is a great example of how designs can organically evolve throughout their production. As you can see, my rendering intended for the dress to mimic the original colors, but as I fabric shopped, I really struggled to find the right colors in the right fabrics. And for that matter, when I found an option and held it up to swatches of the other dresses (or what I had of them at the time), the colors didn’t mesh well into the group.
It took me a while to pinpoint what was really bothering me about these colors. Though I wanted each dress to be unique, I realized that the six of us needed to look like we belonged together in a group. It was very tricky to keep everyone distinct, but cohesive, and I realized that in Rarity’s case, toning down her colors helped tie in Twilight’s deep blues and Applejack’s dark browns. It also avoided clashing with Pinkie, who already held the monopoly on offensive pink (Fluttershy and Applejack had similar concerns, as we were both in green). I was also really pleased with the deeper wines in this dress because the deeper, richer textures of these colors and fabrics were more in line Rarity’s posh tastes.
Fortunately, the great color risk paid off; the dress has received overwhelmingly positive reviews (although I think a lot of this is because Betsy is just amazingly beautiful), and I attribute part this success to the same reason that I chose these fabrics to begin with: velvet and taffeta are the wizards of fabric. Velvet is deep and plush and the pile absorbs light, while the taffeta catches it. The same dress can look drastically different with different lighting (for example, our outdoor shoot).What did I get myself into?
In regards to what I would improve upon, I have a small grocery list. My biggest issue has actually already been addressed, as can be seen in Betsy’s AWA photos here, which was the second time she wore this dress: [link]
...but I will talk about it anyway!
When I had purchased this fabric, I made the mistake of assuming that its taffeta in combination with the quilted weight would support itself as long as the bustle was supported with a cage. I assumed that having a full petticoat/bustle cage combination would make her skirt too bulbous and stiff, and I wanted her to be on the slightly more flowing side of structure. More first-round Victorian bustle phase than the later “shelf” bustle. So…I only made a bustle cage. Once the full dress was on her however, I realized I should have gone with my first instinct and I immediately wished I had made a petticoat for her in addition to or as part of her bustle cage, as the front of the skirt just wanted to weigh itself down. Happily, as we saw photos from Dragoncon surface and discussed how to keep the skirt from collapsing so often, Betsy revealed that she had a petticoat that she could experiment with, and BEHOLD! Insta-fix!
Never, ever again, no petticoat.
I had wanted a different trim layout on the bodice that would also correlate with some on the sides of the bustle, but by the time I got to that part, I was really down to the wire to finish things had had to start choosing which unfinished bits were more important than others (in this case, I chose to finish Rainbow Dash’s cloud trim, because I felt that hers would be noticed more if not complete).
I’d like another tier of yellow swags on the front of the skirt. I think the cascades needed a second (or stronger) row of horsehair, although the use of the petticoat helps those drape better. The second pair of smaller cascades in the back never were finished (I only finished one, and it seemed silly to put it on without a mate).
I don’t regret not using literal gemstones on the dress; I actually tried really hard to make it work, but the Victorian fashion in general was more reserved and giant rocks just cheapened everything on the actual gown. I feel that the appliqués were a much better choice, but I would have liked to finish putting all of them on, as well as finish glitzing them up a little more. Big rhinestones weren’t working for the dress, but smaller ones would have enhanced the appliqués.
The process of building all six MLP gala dresses took about a year to plan and bring together. I believe we all agreed to put a go on Operation Best Night Ever about a month after Dragoncon 2011, where we had debuted our original My Little Pony group. Gala dresses were the obvious next step. I asked the girls if they would let me design and make the outfits, knowing that I was going to both love and regret it later. But mostly love. All my love.
During the design process, which took place between October and December of 2011, I spent a lot of time considering all the different elements. It was important to me to stay as true as possible to gowns as designed through the television program, and yet somehow make them translate gracefully into human interpretations. The real challenge was ensuring that the gowns would also be both flattering and comfortable for each girl.
Some designs were easier to convert than others. Sometimes I found that what I illustrated wasn’t going to translate well onto a body (either because of what it would do to the silhouette, or because it looked too cartoonish), and I had to adjust accordingly.
Design sketch by ~ me!
Modeled by ~ Betzilla!
Photo by ~ Eurobeat Kasumi