September 30, 2015

Dressing the Coven, Period Corsets® and Salem

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   For Salem, Season 2, Period Corsets® outfitted the dark world of the Essex witches coven.  Each character had their own unique signature silhouette and colorway, which quietly molded their personality for the screen. The costume's role in theatre and film is to help build the character presented before us. The use of color and subtle details silently sways our perception of a character and allows the actor to truly become that person. Salem was no exception in utilizing the costume to further develop each character.

The cast of Salem, Season 2
Mary Sibley, the Withering Queen-
   As we delve into Season 2, we find Mary Sibley trying to retain her grasp over the town and the witches of Salem. She faces power struggles and questions of morality as her position as head of the coven is threatened by a new powerful witch, the Countess Marburg. 

Mary's corset by Period Corsets®, shown with lace collar and skirt by the Salem costumers.
   As the reigning witch, and a lady of high standing in the community, Mary's bodices needed to convey her wealth and power. Her ensembles were elegantly decorated with intricate beading and delicate embroidery, as compared to those of her ostentatious counterpart, the Countess Marburg. Mary's ensembles were more subdued with fine detailing and modest shaping. Mary's signature shape was a rigidly boned bodice with a high neckline. She had set-in three quarter length sleeves, and tabs at the waist that spread out beautifully over the full skirts at her hip.
   Mary's colors remained mostly black with occasional touches of brightness highlighted by various embellishments or unique fabrics. As the season went on, her costumes evolved to be darker and more spare as her status in the town was lowered.

Some of Mary's wardrobe of boned bodices by Period Corsets®
   One of the most beautiful creations this season was our gold lame' bodice with intricately beaded monograms. Designer Joseph Porro used the talents of hand embroidery masters in India to create many decorated stomachers, sleeve cuffs and skirts. The stomachers would come straight to us on an uncut piece of yardage which we then cut and fitted into our boned bodice design.  The handiwork on these pieces was astonishing with its elaborate beading and bullion embroidery.
Gold lame' beaded boned bodice for Mary by Period Corsets®

Anne Hale, Coming into Power-
   Anne Hale came to us in Season 1 as a meek and innocent young lady. In Season 2, she makes surprising discoveries and insights into her own personality and family history. We watch this character as she awakens the witch inside her, embraces her new found power, and tests her limits to finally gain the strength to stand on her own. 

Designer's sketch, boned bodice by Period Corsets®, on screen with finishing touches

   Anne is a mostly quiet and well-respected figure in town. Her wardrobe consisted of the usual period shaping but in much more demure examples as compared to her sister witches. The cut of her boned bodices was less revealing, having more coverage across the bust and shoulders with three quarter length set-in sleeves. Her color palette primarily remained within navy blues, blacks and an occasional splash of purple. Her fabrics were a collection of fine silks, foulards, and boucles.
   Only slight touches of finery were added to Anne's finished ensembles, thus keeping her look simple, but socially above that than the average villager. It will be interesting to see how she blossoms and moves into her new role as one of the "power witches" of Salem, and how that will affect her wardrobe for Season 3.
Anne Hale in quiet blues and purples
Tituba's Secrets and Lies-
   In an attempt to further her own goals, the mysterious former slave, Tituba, continued her backstabbing ways by manipulating Mary Sibley . Her standing as Mary's handmaiden kept her clothed in less extravagant clothing appropriate for a character of little means.
   Titubas corsets were constructed in rough, natural fibers such as linens and chenille, all in darker hues of navy or black.  Although she has a low-standing position in society, she still conveys an alluring air about her. Her tightly-laced corsets, worn over loose, off the shoulder chemises, featured seductive front lacing and cleavage enhancing support.
Tituba's signature corset with front lacing and tie-on straps, all by Period Corsets®

Period Corsets® constructed several of Tituba's signature rugged corsets from various kinds of distressed leather, some with tattered leather trim.  Her well-worn wardrobe gives us a sense of her history.  It's suffered along with her and survived through a long life of hard work and troubles. 

Some of Tituba's many leather corsets made by Period Corsets®

Mercy Lewis, to the Depths and Back-
   Mercy continued her struggle to gain power, uniting for a time with the Countess Marburg. Together she hoped they could steal the witch throne from Mary Sibley.  For Season 2, Mercy's rise from the ashes was a grand one. We see her go from dirty rags to elegant silks in heavily-decorated gowns fit for a princess or protege' of the Countess Marburg.

Mercy in a coral brocade "Marie Antoinette" corset with tie-on sleeves by Period Corsets®

   To exemplify Mercy's rise, designer Joseph Porro created gorgeous ensembles in rich pinks and sweet lilacs. Her attire exuded femininity with added bows, ruffles, flowers and trims.
   Once they reached the design teams costume shop on location, our corsets and boned bodices-much like Mercy's transformation- underwent a dramatic change of their own . Based on the designer's requests, Period Corsets built many bodices that were base garments for the costumers to embellish. Although initially the bodices were beautiful on their own, the addition of multiple layers of ribbons, trims and other details, created pieces that are works of art.

Mercy's corset by Period Corsets® before and after the many bows, lace and trim added by Salem costumers.

For more on Salem Season 2, see our Pinterest album:
and our related blog post:

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