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Mary Stuart


Categories: Performance, Opera, Historical

During my final year at university we were asked to make a costume based on an art piece, this could either be done literal or conceptual. Literal recreations is something I enjoy more so I wanted to go for some sort of painting. As this was the final piece we were making during our studies I wanted to go for a Dutch painting. Plenty of research was undertaken until I found this painting of Mary Stuart by Gerard van Honthorst (1647) which I instantly fell in love with. It looks simple but the colour is so vibrant and I had not really done any historical dresses before.

For the performance purpose I chose opera which means that the dress has to be alterable and the performer needs to be able to breathe and move around easily on stage. The costume did have some complications due to it being alterable rather than being a historical recreation but decisions had to me made in some cases, also with working on modern-day figures.

The final costume was made out of a petticoat with attached ruffles on the back waist, a pleated skirt with a small train and a separate boned bodice with beaded front, large sleeves and eyelet closure with matching modesty panel.

This costume was made during the COVID-19 pandemic which did cause issues regarding sourcing materials and available tools and working with a model, the latter problem was solved by making this for myself (and a mannequin to my size). A final photoshoot is yet to be undertaken. The main fabric I ended up using also wasn't my top choice but would have to do for the duration of this project.

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