Alena is a rabid Scarlet Pimpernel fangirl. By rabid, I mean she has 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 she’s lost count, has a laminated membership card for the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and even has postcards and programs from the original 1905 stage play hanging on her walls.
So when the Takarazuka Revue (a famous all-female theatre troupe in Japan) tackled Frank Wildhorn’s Broadway musical The Scarlet Pimpernel, there was no question that this costume set was happening. And — since this was one of Alena’s great passions in life — it was going to be AMAZING.
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).
The dress is dupioni silk and features a steel-boned bodice, a removable train, a removable skirt ruffle (the Gen Con photos below show the dress without this bottom layer; it was removed for the stage performance), and somewhere between 30 and 50 yards of lace and organza trim. Everything that touches the floor is modular and washable. The skirt is supported by a steel-boned pannier. The costume also includes cotton bloomers (not period, but necessary for modesty). Alena went a little insane with the finishing details: Marguerite’s gold lace (all 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 (to match the source images); even 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 given the bodice design, so it wasn’t worn in the final version.)
Sir Percy (Laura)
The shirt is faux silk; the vest and pants are burgundy velvet with faux leather trim; the lace on the lapels is hand-beaded. The overcoat features a double cape and full skirt, and is also trimmed in faux leather. The sash features handmade metal finials decorated with tiny jeweled pimpernels. The gauntlets and hat were modified from existing pieces. The mask contains dozens of Australorp rooster feathers, as well as weatherstripping, foam, scrapbooking pearls, faux leather and more.
Fun fact: The vest (barely visible under the tailcoat) features the same huge lapels as everything else, so if Chauvelin decides to go casual, he can remove his coat and still be dressed in period attire. The entire ensemble is black suiting trimmed in black velvet and black braid (if you’ve seen the show, you know why it all has to be black). The tricolor is double-sided, and is made of matte satin. The tricorn hat was modified from a floppy sun hat (it’s amazing what scissors and twill tape can do!).
- First Place in Professional Division, Gen Con 2012