Friday, 19 July 2013

WWRY Costumes Part 3 - She's a Killer Queen

Ellie as Killer Queen (Photos by Peter Cook)
Killer Queen was one of my favourite costumes to create even though I did have a few sleepless nights over it.

In the full musical production, Killer Queen wears a number of fantastic outfits - a red leather laced up catsuit, a gold leopard print coat, metallic silver and lots and lots of black leather.   But I only needed one for her in the LRVS showcase. Which one to choose?

Ellie James, who played our Killer Queen has the most gorgeous colour hair and I wanted her to be in black to really maximise on this. So in the end, it was quite an easy choice - a long black leather coat. 

An easy choice maybe, but not easy to make. I panicked and bought the first full length leather coat I saw on eBay. It was perfect in many ways - great condition and really expensive looking even though it cost me less than a tenner. But..... far too big on Ellie - I needed a more fitted sexy look. I was not happy, especially as I then saw loads more for sale.....

But I decided to stick with it as it was lovely and soft - so I rather bravely cut it up. I cut it right across the middle just above the natural waist and made the back of the top narrower by taking a seam in right up the centre. I had to open up the lining and unpick part of the facing to get the collar to sit right but in the end it looked great - it really hugged her figure. As I'd made the back very narrow, I didn't need to do anything with the front - it sat really well on her shoulders and the extra width at the front folded back brilliantly as wide lapels. It all sounds as it it was easy - but trust me - it was more luck than skill in this case.
(Photos by Peter Cook)

So what to do with the bottom half. Although the original coat was long enough, it wasn't very full - more of a gentle A-line than a half circle. I decided to insert v-shaped panels to change the shape, using lovely metallic silver lame fabric stiffened with interfacing so it was a similar weight to the leather.

I found the leather was too thick to re-join the top and skirt directly so I used more of the stiffened lame to create a waistband and sewed the top and skirt to that instead.  The coat looked amazing - it really swirled around her legs as she strode across the stage.

Under the coat, I added a gold zip up metallic corset and a fantastic wide leather studded belt that had a really striking buckle.

Ellie provided tight black leggings and boots to finish the whole thing off perfectly.

She was the most awesome killer queen - arrogant and scary - which is just so unlike her personality - a brilliant piece of acting Ellie.

Although only 19, Ellie is an accomplished singer-songwriter under the name Ellie Makes Music and has just released her first single Shaky Hands and debut album City Lights.



The Killer Queen's right hand man - Khashoggi - is a great character - subservient and grovelling, but secretly wishing he was in charge. I made a really cool Matrix style coat for Jack, who played our Khashoggi - and I'm really gutted I don't have a photo of him wearing it. Like Ellie's coat, I made sure it had quite a full skirt that Jack used to great effect during his scenes and in the credits and encore!

Khashoggi kept the rest of the Killer Queen's minions in their places. The Super Yuppies worshiped and fawned over the Killer Queen - especially when her steely gaze fell on them!  She had a lot of minions - and I mean a lot! 26 of them! You can tell she didn't need to do her own cleaning - for those who have seen the full production - we didn't do the Fat Bottomed Girls scene - which is just as well as a lot of our yuppies are still in primary school and I think their parents would have objected to bikini costumes and feather dusters!

Chastened Super Yuppies (Photos by Peter Cook)
So I dressed our Super Yuppies as Executives - perfect for the two scenes we were doing - Killer Queen and Play the Game. School uniform trousers, black shoes and pinstriped jackets. Yes really - I bought 26 identical pinstripe jackets off eBay.

I was really lucky to stumble across a seller with surplus high street clothing stock - and he had a load of ladies jackets. OK, even though they were small sizes, some of them were a bit big for our younger cast members, but I roped in some "willing" volunteers on the dress rehearsal night to sew up the hems and cuffs - thank you ladies.

I wanted to add some sparkle to the outfits but it would have taken hours to sew on, so I backed a few metres of cheap silver sequin fabric with iron on bondaweb  - similar to the stuff you use to turn up no-sew hems - and cut out some sharp looking strips that I ironed on. As they were grovelling around on the floor I did need to "rescue" loose sections over the three nights with a pot of fabric glue, but generally it worked very well.




I also glued strip of the silver fabric around the left wrist of the jackets - perfect for text messaging! 

One of the mums offered to do some amazing sparkly make-up. Even though she had an army of helpers, we were all gutted when we just didn't have enough time during the interval to do it exactly as she had planned. It was a pretty quick change during the interval from Les Mis street urchins with dirty faces and bird's nest hair. We barely had time to get pony tails in and wash off the smudges.   

A hasty re-think and a bit of practice and by the final night, every Yuppy was sparkling brilliantly with glitter on their faces and in their hair. 
Our super Super Yuppies were: Elen, Marnie, Ellen, Sian, Laura, Jess, Kate, Darcy, Alice, Caitlin,  Jessica, Rebekah, Lottie, Lucy, Emily, Ioan, Declan, Celyn, Rachel, Sophie B, Sophie L, Sophie T, Sophie R, Nia, Maddy. And Sally, who also played Drapes - the computer voice who introduces the Killer Queen.


Some of the LRVS Super Yuppies (Photos by Peter Cook)







The Old Button is more than happy for you to use these costume ideas as inspiration for your own production.

Pinning through Pinterest is fine as long as you credit The Old Button but please respect the copyright of the photos, and do not reproduce in other forms without permission. 

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