Designing For Confusion

I finally started looking at what making Carmilla’s costume is going to entail.  Her dress is going to be… challenging, to say the least. Her outfit defies both logic and physics in ways that only an anime dress can.  I’m willing to give this one a little more benefit of the doubt, as Carmilla is technically the ghost of a vampire who specializes in creating psychic illusions.  Since she’s got two types of undeath working for her, plus illusion magic, I suppose her clothes are allowed to be weirdly put together. But trying to make that work in reality is going to be entertaining.  

I also want to add a historic element to the dress.  Carmilla is very loosely based on a real person named Elizabeth Bathory, known as the Bloody Countess.  She lived during the late 1500’s and early 1600’s, and is alleged to be one of the most prolific woman serial killers in history.  The exact details are a little hard to sort out now given how long ago it was, but either she was a terrible murdered who tortured young women for fun, or her political rivals made up the story to assure she was locked in her castle and unable to protect her assets.  Bloodlust leans in hard to the first story, and made Carmilla, the Bloody Countess into a monster that even Dracula thought was excessive.  But given the vaguely historical reference for the character, I’ve decided to make Carmilla’s gown in a pseudo-Elizabethan era style.  I say pseudo-Elizabethan, because there are some decidedly not-historically-based aspects to her anime design. Namely the shoulder and hip guard pieces and the entirely open front of her gown.  Pretty sure that open section would have people of the Elizabethan era fainting on the spot at the sight of it.  

But the skirt shape and general style of the gown (minus the above issues) can probably be adapted to an Elizabethan design.  I took a crack at drawing what I want my gown to look like. I had to take a few liberties with the design, as there are not a lot of images of Carmilla available.  Even with my old school Bloodlust DVD, I couldn’t get more than a handful of screen captures of the dress, and none of the dress without the train… sleeve… thingy involved, which means you can’t ever see the back clearly.  

My sketch of Carmilla’s gown without the train, based on limited reference images and my own imagination

And the train… sleeve… thingy.  That is going to be a nightmare.  That’s one of those pieces that can exist when it’s drawn on paper, because it doesn’t need to make physical sense.  In reality, that is going to be an M.C. Escher like monstrosity. The train is definitely attached to the long sleeve section, but then the sleeves also behave kind of like a wrap draped down around Carmilla’s mid-back.  Which is also where the train starts, and is kind of tied into/bustled with the gown itself. Although, that also depends on which shot in the film I use as a reference, because it definitely changes from one scene to the next.  I drew a couple images to try to make sense of it, and I think I have a solid plan. The train/sleeve wrap will be two pieces, with a seam at the line where it hits the dress at mid-back. It’ll almost be like a cape folded over on itself, but with arm holes.  I’m sure that description makes no sense, but that’s why I made pictures.  

The logic defying sleeve train combo
The nightmare train from the side, still just as confusing

Doing the costume sketches helped me visualize some of the trickier details of the outfit, and gave me a chance to plan things like where seams are and how stuff will be attached.  I’m still going to have to do a lot of mocking up with muslin to figure out exactly how this beast is going to work, but before any of that, I need to figure out how the undergarments are going to work.  That’ll be a topic for tomorrow.