A performance film by Cramped Coffin Theatre Company
“It will still be me. But just a different version of me. A changed, twisted version of me. A warped funhouse mirror version of me. I will be changed. Not by clothing, not by the colour of my hair. But by the DNA that binds me together."
Cramped Coffin Theatre is a collaboration between myself and Touring Theatre student Nicola Lawton, as a way of combining our very different theatre professions and common love for all things literary and macabre. We have not only collaborated in the creation of the company’s debut performance, but in co-founding the theatre company itself, with many more productions slated for future releases.
‘Melusine’ is a classic French folktale with Cramped Coffin’s signature macabre twist. As told by the titular character from her solitary bathroom, our performance film aims to tell her story by making our half-serpentine heroine a little more human and having her tell it herself.
Most of this project was centred around discussing the performance as collaborators, and making joint decisions about the content, visuals and characterisation. My designs would have to work in tandem with Nicola’s ideas and portrayal of the character, and the style of performance film, which incorporates both theatre and film techniques in its visuals. I would also have to bear special attention to accommodating the technicalities of the performance, and making the dress comfortable to perform in from awkward positions.
After much concept discussion, I was tasked with creating the decrepit ball gown of the fallen serpent lady. A garment that would hint at her noble and illustrious past but show the wear and tear of her sad story and eventual retreat into obscurity. We agreed that Melusine’s main costume should symbolise her ties to water and her almost magpie-like ways of holding on to her past.
I made designs focussing on deep sea and shipwreck themes and colours, with hints of romantic medieval interpretations and references to 1860’s fashion, though rooted firmly in fantasy. The designs focussed on the idea of large, voluminous skirts and sleeves that would overflow like cascades of water when Melusine sat in her bath, and corsetry, which gives a fine, structured element to her dress (much like a shipwreck surrounded by ocean wildlife) and emphasises the sheer size of the skirts.
Despite having to work around COVID-19 restrictions during the creative process, I am incredibly proud of the final results and look forward to seeing them in the final film, when it is expected to release around October. Collaborating with Nicola has been an incredible experience and an exciting way to bring our work together to create something wonderful. The future of Cramped Coffin is exciting and full, and I look forward to the things that we create in the future.
Cramped Coffin’s own socials can be found below:
Dress created on behalf of the Royal British Legion
The focus of the brief was to create a dress to commemorate 100 years of the Royal British Legion (RBL) Poppy Appeal. This is of particular interest personally as I am an ex-serving member of the Royal Forces. The aim was to collaborate with the RBL to raise funds and thereby use the product of my Final Major Project to honour past and present service men and women.
In order to set up a collaboration, I approached a local branch of the RBL to discuss ideas and explain the focus of the project. It proved challenging to identify an appropriate point of contact but, once this was done, I was put in touch with a serving member of the Royal Air Force who agreed to model the dress.
The design was finalised, with the plan to create, by hand, over 300 silk, beaded poppies to adorn the finished gown. This was very time-consuming but was achieved within the expected time frame by reducing the final number of poppies to 251. Total time taken to create the dress approximately 650 hours including poppies.
I believe my positive attitude, perseverance and commitment to the project have helped me to complete the project.
hello and thank you for clicking my page my name is Dominic and I'm a costume illustrator
I love to be able to draw both traditionally and Digitally and concstaly like to adapt my skill to new lengths . i like to work with many different medias in my work, my favourite thing to do is play around with colour colour play a major role in me as a designer as I believe colour give the soul to a design. I use bright and dark shade to give depth to my work my interested in costume comes from character in video game and anime which lead me into character design I have just worked on my final project
where I work with a illustrator to create character art for a world called Arlayous and magical real of fairy and elf.
within this project I did research into the themes of fantasy with the research I found weird links that tie different fantasy creatures tougher which inspired the characters that can be seen on my page, these are the character made for the world of Arlayous and along side these bright and vibrant characters I have create a costume for one being a kitsune.
what is a kitsune well a kitsune is a spiritual foxes witch can control fire they shapeshift into different from such as a human and like to play trick the costume I have made for this project took inspiration from kitsune they come from japense origin and in human form they wear kimonos.
for my project I created a fire tone kitsune inspired costume and the costume can be worn both way the red to represent their tricker side with the panelling being that of trick box and red as they control fire, and the other cherry blossom side is because they come from and are spirts so I used white and black to show a more spiritual ghostly side , I really had fun on this project creating my own characters and making a costume for the character this really allowed me to show my pattern cutting skill with all the panel and my design skill it was the best of both worlds.
“Your Fingers for a Corset” originally only a line from the poem “Her” written by Hellena Jane for this project, perfectly embodied the sinister fairy tale femme fatale narrative being portrayed and became massively influential towards the final garment.
Heavily influenced also by nature and natural forms the dress took on the silhouette of a mushroom, pushing for unique structure plans and copious trial and error to create the final garment. Designing for the male character too helped create a more rounded outcome for the female design using elements to link the two costumes. The illustrations done with these final designs created a perfect storyboard to help when planning the photoshoot and to be used alongside the poems when they are shared publicly in future.
Deeper meanings within the decoration hint towards the fact the character is not all she seems. The skeletal hands are obscured beneath ivy and flowers, so they are not obvious on first glance. Ivy already has dangerous connotations with its links to poison ivy and the hand silk painted and embroidered flowers contain subtle meanings of forsaken love and death due to Victorian floriography. The blood beading, actually based off mushroom guttation a process that looks like blood and gives off the same dangerous feeling when first seen, is kept mainly to the back of the garment so her victims will not see this or the hands until she turns around. Along with the overall mushroom shape and the fear of beautiful poisonous mushrooms the characters intentions of evil amongst her initial innocent portrayal are all laid out clearly when the garment is fully explored.
This project prompted a whole new skill set from a one-of-a-kind structure, to delicate surface design and traditional corsetry techniques to bring to life the character imagined by the poet. It was a challenging project to undertake improving problem solving skills and many technically advanced making techniques. The final photos in location were the perfect representation of the poems and the final video outcome on YouTube illustrates the poem effectively and exhibits the dress in the environment it was intended for.
Reconceptualising who the De Vil’s truly are, fusing Dodie Smith’s iconic antagonists with the conceptual nature of what it means to be evil at the core. Studying how the body can be manipulated to explore the conventions of beauty and the horror that leaks from underneath.
Blurring the boundaries of gender, humanity and what it truly means to be cruel and evil…
This final major project culminates in two bespoke outfits, incorporating unconventional corsetry and tailoring. The final garments will be worn by The De Vil’s to a launch party, celebrating the release of Cruella’s Dalmatian skin collection. As such they take inspiration from high fashion evening wear, queer culture, and the macabre. To continue Cruella's obscure feminist narrative Harri De vil has been presented as non-Binary.
This project was conducted in conjunction with Jo Cope, an innovative and quirky corsetry specialist and Karlus G who specialises in hand tailoring.
To see my full portfolio follow this linkhttps://issuu.com/evalenemccool/docs/cruel_and_evil_protfolio_evalene_mccool_4
This is a project undertaken with an inter-collaboration between three third-year students (Abigail Hart, Jessica Bayliss and myself) with mentorship from the Hamburg Ballet. The aim was to create a business plan for a bespoke costume company specialising in ballet attire, as well as to conceptualise and design all the costumes required for a hypothetical production of ‘Carnival of the Animals’; each taking one character forward to realisation with photography student Emily Jacob. The Hamburg Ballet is an internationally acclaimed ballet company based in Hamburg, Germany and is renowned for its preservation of ballet tradition whilst developing modern dramatic frameworks; themes that we were keen to develop and explore within our designing.
Throughout this project I have been given the opportunity to learn new techniques and industry specialisms required of ballet costume, as well as combining traditional pattern cutting methods with innovative techniques to develop aesthetic interest. Experimenting with Japanese pattern cutting techniques has been a great experience, enabling me to push how I would like to utilise pattern cutting methods in future, especially in consideration of structure. Developing a half-scale outcome was also interesting as it prompted me to consider and adapt techniques to a much smaller scale of working suitable to this medium, such as embroidery and fastenings; developing my skills as a practitioner.
The concept for this project derived from our shared interest in combining historical styles with contemporary functions, such as utilising innovative pattern cutting methods within traditional ballet forms. Inspired by John Lithgow’s 2003 ‘carnival of the Animals’ production, in which a boy falls asleep in the museum of natural history and in his dreams everyone he knows turns into animals. We decided to develop the concept using the quote “like pale apparitions invading the night”, to evolve the animal character descriptions to represent ‘ghosts’ from the protagonist Oliver’s past. As I was nominated the head of design for the company, it was my role to ensure that the group’s creative vision was achieved. To guarantee this, the story was translated so that Oliver is a teenage boy who developed PTSD/Shell shock from fighting in the First World War, his dreams recalling black and white memories of lost friends and family; picturing them with animalistic qualities, to make them less humane to cope with his illness and losses.
The story’s exploration of humanity’s connection to animal nature really encouraged us to design and develop costumes that would subtly reflect this within performance. We felt it was important to exhibit a cohesive overview of the line-up within our final outcome; showcasing a female lead, male lead, and an ensemble costume, to be reflective of our skills in support of our business model. For this reason, I chose to take a design from the Fossil Ensemble forward to realisation, as I was really inspired by the structural and historical requirements of the Fossils; keen to fully reflect their calcified nature through costume.
I have really enjoyed working on this project, and glad that I have had the opportunity to explore another area of the costume industry. Having the freedom to construct our own project was both a stimulating and overwhelming experience, which provided myself and my collaborators the opportunity to push ourselves to create something unique. The above visuals showcase my personal development throughout this project, from research to final outcome.
A Collaborative project between Jessica Bayliss, Suzanna Dear and Abigail Hart. We will be designing for a hypothetical ballet called "Carnival of the Animals" Our costumes were completed at half scale and photographed by Emily Jacob.
Carnival of the Animals– A young boy falls asleep in the Museum of Natural History and wakes up to see everyone he knows has turned into animals. This is changed to follow the story of a young man who has come home from war with shell shock, due to this he is confused and pictures all his past friends and relatives that have died as animals. He will be in colour with the rest of the characters in white in Victorian clothing– with the Victorian clothing adding to his confusion.
We also had a mentorship from Candice Newton from The Hamburg Ballett School. She proved to be extremely helpful throughout the project and gave us insight into how ballet costumes are made in the industry.
The character I took forward into my final make was Oliver's Mother, she was represented by a cuckoo. I enjoyed the process of looking into techniques to create the look of feathers within the tutu and beading on the bodice. I also incorporated a Japanese pattern cutting technique to the back of my bodice. It created a wonderful feather-like aesthetic to the costume and I am very pleased with the outcome.
As a team, we completed a business plan for our own business 'SewOnPointe'. This allowed us to think of our future careers and gave us a head start in potentially starting our own business together.
Alice's journey starts on 22nd April 1970. She is a driven young woman protesting at the first Earth Day march to push for worldwide changes to end destructive and polluting industries. Educated by Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' (1962), Alice began to understand how fragile the eco system can be when mankind interferes with it's natural balance.
'Harmful pesticides are polluting our countryside and waterways, effecting the natural order of the food chain and endangering our children as they grow into young adults. Oil fracking continues to fuel all major industries with little thought to the health of future generations and their need for the earths natural resources. This first protest acts as a catalyst to force change for the well-being of our planet and reduce population levels before climate damage is too great to reverse.
Amongst the crowd Alice is pushed to and froe before suddenly, she loses her footing on a loose manhole cover and falls and falls and falls……
The air twists and turns around Alice as her dress whips against her frame. Alice crashes into a world unrecognisable from her own; bruised and confused in a land of pollution and irreversible climate damage, on April 22nd 2050. This new world is nothing close to the Wonderland she explores within her dreams, the Earth left behind has since been distorted by climate damage and pollution too far gone.'
The costumes relate to this story through the print designed by my collaborator, Lou Moffat. Messages hidden within the design shows the start of Alice's story in 1970 and the tumble through time to 2050. These being the key dates in our history and future which marks the need to save and restore our planet; save our earth, you can't get off.
For a long time I didn't know how to make a difference for the good of other people and the planet until I discovered sustainable design. These costumes have been created utilising dead-stock, upcycled and organically sourced materials into a 'zero-waste pattern'. This pattern cutting technique ensures the layplan of a garments pattern interlocks in such a way that no material goes to waste, it all has a purpose.
This is a collaborative project between 3 costume students: Suzanne Dear, Jessica Bayliss, and myself. We have developed a unique and interesting collaboration by researching, designing, and constructing one half scale garment each, inspired by the ballet production of The Carnival of the animals. In addition to this we have also produced a business plan for our own company, taking into consideration marketing, logo generation, and budget. Candice Newton, costume assistant from the Hamburg Ballet, a world-renowned ballet company and school, has guided us through this project by taking the role of mentor. Emily Jacob, 3rd year BA (hons) Photography student, was our 4th collaboration, taking the role of photographer, working with us to produce concept boards and professional final photographs.
Inspired by the original 2003 John Lithgow production, following the story of Oliver, a little boy, who falls asleep during a school trip to visit the American museum of natural history. During his dreams all the people he knows are transformed into animals. As a group, we decided to take our own spin on this by developing the story to fit a different time period. Our concept being:
Oliver, a teenage boy (16/17) who developed PTSD / Shell shock whilst fighting in the First World War, returns home. He, like many, lost friends and family and misses others who he is unlikely to see again. He takes a visit to the Natural History Museum to take his mind of this matter. Whilst there he falls asleep in one of the exhibits, and starts dreaming of his friends and family, remembering memories of their time together. But instead of Picturing them as humans… he sees them as animals, possibly to make them less humane to cope with his illness. Although, he imagines the time before the war and how happy everyone was, his thoughts of war and its devastation keep invading these dreams.
Due to the 100th anniversary of The Royal British Legion and my brother recently becoming a member of the British Army, we decided to utilise this in our story to make it personal, unique, and thought-provoking. We wanted Oliver to be the only character to be in colour to make him stand out as the narrator. We thought it would be interesting to have the other characters in greyscale to portray that they are ghosts of Oliver’s past, invading his dreams.
This project has helped to develop my skill set especially my business, organisation, and construction skills. Although, I didn’t know much about business when starting the project, I now feel confident enough to create my own business plan for any future business ideas. As I have organisational and communication skills, I was allocated head of department of the company, therefore, implementing these skills within industry standard practice. Running the company Instagram enabled me to create professional templates and backgrounds to organise our material. Using my already existing skills within embroidery and beading, I developed them further by using new techniques. I have also explored ways to Japanese pattern cut, which will inevitably help to create more exciting costumes in my future.
I have really enjoyed collaborating with so many individuals, whether that be within the course or outside. It has created confidence and even more enthusiasm for my specialism for me to take forward to my future career. I look forward to collaborating in the future with like minded individuals again.
For my Individual Practice project I have collaborated with Birmingham based circus company, CircusMASH who are creating a short film about how the struggles of lockdown have impacted the youth who are planning their career choices. The film focuses on how the Government have treated the arts sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, suggesting that people in these careers should retrain in other job sectors. The film highlights the importance of mental health and why it is important for the arts sector to survive.
I have designed and made one outfit for the ring master of the circus, played by aerialist Lydia White. Her role mainly includes acting with a small amount of circus performance. I have been asked to provide a costume that represents this , including a bodysuit in which she can be flexible in as well as a jacket with a detachable cape in the colour purple.
I have also collaborated with photographer Sam Ip, a Graphic Design student who enjoys photography in his spare time. Sam has taken final photos of my costume in a circus environment, which he can include in his own portfolio.