This costume set was a massive project and will be accompanied by long walls of text, so I’m breaking it into multiple posts.
So… I (Alena) am a rabid Scarlet Pimpernel fangirl. By rabid, I mean I’ve read all 17 of the Scarlet Pimpernel books written by Baroness Orczy (and amassed quite a respectable collection of early editions of Orczy’s works), watched every extant film and television version, seen the Broadway musical so many times I’ve lost count, possess a laminated membership card for the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and even have century-old photographs, postcards and programs from the original 1905 stage play hanging on my walls. So when the Takarazuka Revue (a famous all-female theatre troupe in Japan) tackled Frank Wildhorn’s hit Broadway musical version, there was no question that we would do this costume set. I didn’t even ask Laura and Mark if they were interested; I just informed them it was happening.
It took three years of planning, including a lot of research and multiple road trips to collect fabric (materials for these costumes were acquired from at least five states and three countries). All pieces were custom-patterned, and nearly every piece was made for this set, including Marguerite’s undergarments.
Fun fact: This is the only competition set we’ve ever made that allows all three of us to use our own hair.
Marguerite St. Just
Marguerite’s hot-pink ballgown is made of dupioni silk and features a steel-boned bodice, a removable train, a removable skirt ruffle (the action photo from Gen Con shows the dress without this bottom layer; it was removed for the stage performance), and somewhere between 30 and 50 yards of lace trim. Everything that touches the floor is modular and washable, and the floor side of the four-foot train is lined with matching cotton sateen to prevent damage to the silk. The skirt is supported by a steel-boned pannier. The costume also includes cotton bloomers, which are not period, but were necessary for modesty. (These are also visible in the Gen Con photo).
All the gold lace (dress trim and the full overlay on the bodice and petticoat) was hand-painted; there are rhinestones, pearls and tiny dangling Swarovski crystals sewn to the bodice of the dress, and the designs on Marguerite’s fan were painted by hand. The necklace was also entirely handmade and was constructed of a disassembled hair accessory, two phone charms, a vintage button, a pair of earrings, a scrapbooking kit, and lots of beads.
A boned period corset was also made for this costume, but it ended up being unnecessary once we figured out where to hide the boning in the bodice, so it wasn’t worn in the final version.