I’ve gotten a bunch of requests to do a breakdown of Victoria’s Yui costume, the way I did with the Tron dress. This time, I’m going to delve more into the details of the costume, so you get an idea of our process in making a costume.
This promotional art version of Yui is a relatively simple garment, but the accessories make it complicated. The first thing we had to do was break down all of the elements that would need to be made.
First, of course, is the white dress. It clings to the body, with slits that arch over the hips, and a tail that fans way, way out. There is also a blue, triangular collar. There are a pair of large fins on her head, coral “horns” that have pearls and beads hanging from them, a blue, frilly-edged hat, gold arm cuffs, and a point on the thin tabbard. All of these items would have to be made from scratch: patterned and sewn, or sculpted and cast.
There are also a number of “jewelry” details, including the winged brooch at the neck, dangling beads that hang from the collar, floral earrings, and the accessories that are on the purple carves that hang from the hat. All of these items would have to be hunted down, purchased, and assembled.
The first thing to do was find the fabrics. The sheer silk was the biggest problem. Victoria had a very specific mental picture of how the fabric would drape and move. And we needed to find the same fabric in the strange green of Yui’s drawing, as well as the pale yellow of Miaka’s drawing. Of course, dyeing was always an option, but we preferred to avoid that if we could, due to the uncertainty of dyeing results. Finding the green and yellow silks was long process, requiring four different trips to different places. We ended up special ordering it when Victoria found the right fabric in the right colors, but in insufficient quantities. But when the order didn’t arrive in time, we ended up going to a wholesaler who did me a favor by selling us some fabric. Shopping for the gems was a similarly time-consuming process, because of how picky Victoria is.
Since there is only one drawing of this outfit, there is a lot of room for interpretation. The coral-like horns on the head, and the large gems that look like pearls, gave Victoria the impression that this outfit was meant to be inspired by sea life. Initially, this led Victoria to think in terms of scales, but the fins of fish typically have a translucent quality, not a scaly one. This led to Victoria’s decision to have the fins made from translucent silicone.
Victoria sculpted the coral horns, as well as the spines for the fins, out of clay. She also made the “jewelry” accessories: the winged brooch, seven strings of tiny beads, the gem for the collar, the floral earing, and the bits that hang from the purple scarves.
The white dress is fairly simple, but the way it is drawn, it hangs from Yui’s body in a particular way, arching over her hips and wrinkling at the hips in a way that real dresses don’t. Patterning and mocking up the dress was what I spent most of my time dealing with.
I also made the red and yellow parts of the blue collar. Victoria prefers to match colors to materials when interpreting a drawing. In this case, the yellow parts of the collar are the same color as the fins on the head, so Victoria wanted the red and yellow parts of the collar to be made of the same silicone as the fins and other parts. I made silicone fabric by coating white fabrics in colored silicones.
While Victoria was out of town for work, I molded and cast the clay pieces that she sculpted (the coral “horns” and fins), and experimented with colors for the resin and silicone.
By the time Victoria had to leave for Anime Matsuri, the white dress was mostly done, but the blue collar was still in pieces, and the accessories were about half done. I wasn’t going to Houston with her, so she had to pack up a bunch of pieces and supplies and head to the airport.
While in Houston, she had to finish the “jewelry” accessories, make the hat, finish the silicone accessories, complete the white dress, and completely assemble the blue collar. It was a lot of work!
In the end, she got it done. Of course, it wasn’t as good as she hoped, but that is the price of working under the time constraints of the show.