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Theatre costume

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1969 (designed)
    1975 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Stone, Alix, born 1913 - died 2010 (costume designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lurex brocade, synthetic fabric, gold net, various gold beads, gold metal wire, sequins, gold braid, bead caps, velco, cotton, rigelene, quilted nylon

  • Museum number:

    S.15-2004

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Historical costume on stage is never an 'authentic' reproduction; theatre designers adapt historical dress to make it acceptable to a contemporary theatre audience. Thus the fabrics, cut and style of a theatre costume are at once recognisable as historical period and yet bear the signs of the age in which the production is being staged. If the play was produced twenty years before or twenty years later, the costumes would be treated quite differently.
A costume may look historically correct, but the era in which it is created can often be told from the fabrics and the way it is made. Fabrics are very typical of a period and when a costume is remade the same materials and trimmings may no longer be available. This costume for Queen Elizabeth from a revival of Benjamin Britten's opera Gloriana in the 1970s, uses materials and trimmings typical of that time, including mesh fabric, gold nets, rigeline (an artificial stiffener), metal wires and 'flowers' created of gold braids. The costume made to this design in the 1960s, (see S.14-2004) looks far less glitzy and more subdued.

Physical description

Elizabethan style dress in orange woven with iridescent and gold lurex strip, the sleeves 'apricot' woven with iridescent and silver strip. Down the front is a stomacher ending in a bold bow of a fine white synthetic fabric woven with fine gold stripe overlaid with fine gold net and edged with faceted gold drops; the stomacher is edged and overlaid with gold lace, within which are two rows to either side of the faceted gold drops and down the centre gold ribbon bows and large filigree bead caps containing a gold drop. The top of the sleeves are overlaid with the fine white synthetic fabric woven with a fine gold stripe, overlaid with gold lace, held with star 'flowers' made of fine gold metal wire set with sequins; the lower sleeve is overlaid with a coarse gold net, held with 'flowers', the petals of open gold briad, centered with star 'flowers' as on the upper sleeves but centered with a large filigree bead cap and with gold metal thread 'tails' from underneath; the cuff is of the same gold striped synthetic fabric, edged with gold and white lace, overlaid with various bold laces in gold and white, held at the sleeve edge with the star 'flowers.' The lower edge of the bodice is cut in 'lappets' which fall over the pleated 'peplum' on the skirt; the peplum is lined with an orange woven with iridescent and silver strip and edged with gold lurex braid. The skirt is open down the front and edged with a band of gold lurex overlaid and edged with gold lace, and around the skirt are vertical bands, of a fine gold synthetic fabric woven with a fine gold stripe, overlaid with gold lace motifs, which become larger and more complicated towards the hem, made of gold ribbon and rosettes formed of gold lurex centred with a ribbed bead, the whole rosette surrounded by gold faceted drop beads. The bodice fastens down the left side of the stomacher with velcro and hooks and bars and is lined with white cotton and rigelene bones. The stomacher is stiffened and boned and lined with apricot synthetic fabric. The skirt and sleeves are lined with white quilted nylon.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1969 (designed)
1975 (made)

Artist/maker

Stone, Alix, born 1913 - died 2010 (costume designer)

Materials and Techniques

Lurex brocade, synthetic fabric, gold net, various gold beads, gold metal wire, sequins, gold braid, bead caps, velco, cotton, rigelene, quilted nylon

Dimensions

Length: 186 cm Collar to hem, Width: 60 cm Across shoulders, Weight: 6.3 kg

Object history note

The costume was designed by Alix Stone for Queen Elizabeth in Benjamin Britten's opera Gloriana, English National Opera, 1969 remade 1975. According to English National Opera, it was worn by Ava June.

Historical significance: A comparison of S.15-2004 with S.14:1-2004 shows clearly changes in costume- making techniques and available materials between the 1960s and 1970s.

Descriptive line

Costume designed by Alix Stone for Queen Elizabeth in Benjamin Britten's opera Gloriana, English National Opera, 1969 remade 1975.

Materials

Lurex brocade; Synthetic fabric; Net (textile); Beads; Gold wire; Sequins; Gold braid; Metal; Velcro; Cotton (textile); Rigelene; Nylon

Techniques

Machine stitching; Hand stitching

Categories

Stage costumes

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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