This is a post that provides more detail on the process and details for our IIDA New England 2015 Fashion Show entry, Loxodonta.
Apparel for a Pachyderm
While the elephant was under construction in the shop, a team of busy fashionistas prepared intricate costuming for our wonderful models and the magnificent beast.
The elephant accessories team was approached with an interesting design problem: what does an elephant wear? In keeping with the overall vision of project, we identified that the costuming should be elegant, beautiful, intricate and complimentary to an elephant structured of vinyl flooring. Our finished design features a blanket, headpiece and four ankle decorations which are studded with fabric flowers. The elephant decoration came from the synthesis of two ideas: I envisioned repeated 3D objects, while Amber and Loren explored the aesthetics of traditional Indian elephant decorations. The final design was a synthesis of these two ideas. We used the filigree and visually complex detailing of the traditional patterns, combining symmetrical patterns with organically arranged flower bouquets.
The accessories team followed an organic design process that enabled many hands and voices to experiment and contribute. The blanket shape, materials and framework for design were agreed upon, and then within that context individuals were able to spontaneously produce and create. The process was marked by bursts of creative energy. Patterns and objects were tested and added or subtracted as the design evolved in a poetic and conversational way.
Using Unika Vaev upholstery fabric as our blanket base, we laser cut and assembled about 200 fabric dahlias and roses. We spent lunchtimes and evenings laser cutting fabric, and handed them off to team of flower makers who took them home and returned with finished pieces. Extra flowers accented the ringmaster and jester costumes, as well as guests in the audience! A happy accident occurred from the laser cutting – the negative space of dahlia petals turned out to be a great diamond shape. Instead of throwing these scraps out, we incorporated a stunning diamond pattern in the blanket.
Our team had a wonderful focus on detail, which contributed to the rich and vibrant appearance of the final product. Perched on top of the elephant is a wonderful, hand embroidered fabric bird in a nest made of natural reeds – typically used in Lumicor panels.
For those who would like to see Pearl up close, you can come visit her in the lobby of our office building, Atlantic Wharf (290 Congress Street). Pearl will be on display and festooned for the holiday season until early 2016.