April 29, 2017

Period Corsets and Salem the final season

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Period Corsets said a fond farewell to working with some of our favorite costumes and characters on Salem, Season 3. This year brought a close to the series, and to this wonderful project that we felt so lucky to be a part of.
The Witches of Salem, all wearing Period Corsets bodices, designed by Porro

 Heavy with embroidery, beading and fine details, Porro put his talents to the test and created some of the most elegant ensembles yet.With full wide skirts and off the shoulder corsets with exaggerated sleeves, each actress was made to look rich and fabulous. The costumes were certainly a more elaborate version of the original colonists but no doubt a more pleasant version to lay our eyes (and hands) on! As Porro said, "...our producers wanted us to have a little more fun with the stuff, make it a little sexier, a little more fashionable for modern audiences".

Anne Hale as played by Tamzin Merchant, wearing a Period Corsets made bodice

Mercy Lewis, played by Elise Eberle, wears a customized Marie Antoinette corset by Period Corsets

Salem's main character, Mary Sibley, was again the prime focus for the majority of the rich costumes. She started the season wearing bodices constructed of natural fibers in plain, understated colors with no embellishment. The design of her corsets was based on ones worn previously by the character Tituba. The corset was a tabbed style with half lacing down the center front made of different shades of linen.
Mary wears Period Corsets linen corsets

The costumes played an integral role in the storytelling. Mary's simple linen corsets represented Mary as a woman beaten down and struggling to find her footing in the world. As the story moves on, she is presented with her full wardrobe that had been kept from her, allowing her to transform herself again into the powerful witch she once was.

Mary wears a beaded boned bodice constructed by Period Corsets, designed by Porro

This year, Salem's signature looks involved an elongated center front stomacher, so long that it required Period Corsets to commission an extra long wooden busk specifically to fit each garment. This also required some artful patterning around the extreme length of the embroidered fabrics.

Inserting the extra long wood busk to give structure to the elongated center fronts
As with previous seasons, fabrics came to Period Corsets in uncut yardage with embroidery and beading already applied. Using these designs as guides, we shaped and patterned around the decorations to create the custom boned bodices. Some of the more elaborate pieces had the embroideries extending over the straps and shoulders creating elegant shaping and framing for the final bodice.
left:Mercy Lewis in her Period Corsets bodice with off the shoulder detailing
right:The un-cut beaded and embroidered materials sent directly to us

Another change to the silhouette this season was to allow for a different scoop in the armscye to accommodate the billowy sleeves traditional for this era. For his designs, Joseph Porro has said that he was inspired by paintings from the early 1600s. The Cavalier style dresses were a big influence on the overall costumes, with their extreme shapes and embellishments.

From left to right:
Mercy in a Period Corsets bodice; a classic example of Cavalier fashion from painter Caspar Netscher
To adhere to a more historical path, the garment designs were closely matched to images found through research and supplied to us by the designers.  By matching the beaded fabric and referencing  archival paintings and photos of actual preserved bodices of the time, our team was able to achieve the extremely pointed long silhouette of that era. The black and white beaded bodice, shown below, was our most extreme version. For this piece, we required the longest wooden busk we've ever made, coming in at an impressive 18". A beauty to look at, but impossible to sit in!

left:Period Corsets boned bodice with 18" long front wood busk
right top: un-cut beaded fabric with design notes and photos to guide our pattern making
right bottom: Ladies "Jub√≥n" Barroco, ca. 1670-1695 Spanish doublet


Another amazing element to these gorgeous costumes were the embroidered and beaded materials that were sent to us. The embellished motifs this year were like a story unto themselves. A golden god emblazoned across the chest, swirling vines, and blooming flowers accented with many decorated bugs. Each one a piece of artwork sewn to beautiful silks and velvet.

Full ensemble with bodice by Period Corsets, detail of gold beaded design for the center front stomacher
One of our favorite pieces this season was Mary's jaw-dropping wedding gown. There were three duplicate bodices for various scenes and stunts.  Throughout all 3 Salem seasons, Period Corsets constructed multiple sets of the same pieces, as most of them would be getting stained with various things relevant to the story-line. So, not only did they create these heavily detailed works art, but they made multiples of them!
Mary's wedding dress with  amazing embroidered flowers and bugs
"Being put into a corset instantly changes the whole way I move. Immediately I have power, just from what I'm wearing"- Janet Montgomery (Mary Sibley) on the transformative power of costumes


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