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Prototype: Arwen Mourning Coat

This is almost identical to the other Chase Dress, but for the fact it's in a black faux suede instead of teal, with matching black silk chiffon lacing. It fastens down the front with hook and eyes, under the chiffon lacing.

This of course doesn't really resemble Arwen's actual mourning gown from the Peter Jackson trilogy and rather comes from us saying "Think of Aragorn being dead!" during the photoshoot (which replaced last time's "Think of the Weight of the Ages!"). Wandering away from Tolkien, I suspect this may look rather fetching a drow character, with perhaps a dash of classic purple or red in the accompanying clothing and I can't say this wasn't made with appealing to that sort of aesthetic in mind.

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £90-100. The prototype of the chase dress itself (UK women's size 16-18) is available on Character Kit for £90. 

In Other News: You should go wander over and have a look at Gracewing's Clockwork Firebird Designs, now with added updates. Photos of the amazing Catbus, Red XIII, the awesome spider-butt and more. (And of course, there's a spot of pride that she's wearing the steampunk velvet tailcoat with the beautiful Crown of Gears Leather Corset.)

More photos of the coat under the cut.

Steampunk Pirates Concept Art

Airship pirates, steampunk or otherwise, owe a lot of the aesthetics to the Golden Age of Piracy (which is largely Georgian, with particular emphasis on bucket-sleeves frock coats). And I do love the Carribean-esque air pirates (in all their many shades of historical accuracy), but as The Designer and I began talking steampunk pirates of late (in part due to a remark from one of the denizens on the BrassGoggles Forums a while back), we started thinking about "our" take on it (looking back, we did do a set of photos themed around a Steampunk Pirate earlier in the year).

We return to the fact that high altitudes are really quite cold and whilst we can justify the wearing of loose coats and more abbreviated clothing with technology that compensates it seems worth more than a moment to explore the idea (the classic being spacious heated cabins, boiler room temperatures or you can just handwave it altogether; Disney's Treasure Planet pretty much went this route with its aesthetics and happily did it handwave why its frock-coat-wearing characters were sailing through space on galleon-esque vessels. Very pretty, by the way, if completely silly).

So, the Designer and I looked at what early pilots wore. Fleece-lined bomber jackets are certainly very iconic. Some seemed to be simply wearing electric blankets plugged into the engines (and strapped to themselves). It's really very cold up in high altitudes. We looked at photos (much like this fighter pilot), read articles (particularly found Flight Clothing for High Altitudes useful) and had a look at the Anime Last Exile at the recommendation of a friend.

And here are the results.

The basic premise revolves around the materials and textures of a aviator jacket and the shape of the Georgian frock coats. We wanted the collar to be very reminiscent of a bomber jacket, but with more buttons and buckles instead of zips (old trick, we know). We were also vaguely trying to cut back on the number of pockets and pouches (not trying to seem too much like a one trick pony when it comes to designs) but they snuck in anyway.

The shorter sleeves with the long leather gloves were supposed to bring a touch of practicality (allowing for interesting detail but keeping them out of the way). The Designer felt that the harness with the d-rings could possibly be used in conjunction with rigging or seatbelts of some kind. We tried to incorporate classic pirate accessories (like the tricorn, the sabre and a cravat), but also insignia badges, flying scarves and aviator caps.

The results straddle classic steampunk and dieselpunk, but I'm reasonably happy with the pictures though it some of it still looks a little disjointed. What do you think?

Oh, and fleece is annoying to draw.

(For what it's worth, the Proprietor is using some of this concept art to illustrate Haslanti League in his Exalted game.)
This coat is made of beautifully soft black stretch velvet and lined with a faux silk that is embroidered with lilac rosebuds and wandering vines. The trim is a black and gold jacquard.

In design, this effectively the previous black velvet coat, but with lilac flowers instead of pale pink ones embroidered on the lining, a decision dictated largely by the availability of fabric.

I confess to be dabbling with something of the gothic here. This and the black chase dress were together titled "Mourning" when it comes to folders. They were taken just days before Halloween, hence the use of the oversized toy heart as a prop with the silver goblet. Kathed was, as always, fantastic to work with (and she endured most graciously all the Mercenary's the tired jokes about elves, the weight of the ages, bored ladies, fan language, etc).

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost £90-100, though significantly cheaper with a plainer lining.  The design of the coat almost entirely hinges on the embroidered fabric and its availability, so exact replicas are not always possible. The tentative beginnings of the range are available from Character Kit for £85.

The Mercenary also did a single-clasp riding coat/gown in green and purple cotton brocade.

More photos of the Black Velvet Coat Dress under the cut.

This commission was based around a character concept I won't delve too deeply into, but the short of it is a discreet messenger with a mild steampunk/clockpunk vibe. The Designer and I kicked around a lot of ideas, most of them circling hidden pockets and pouches of rolled papers. The upshot appears to be us taking elements of the steampunk coat and fusing it with a frock coat.

The most interesting feature of the Clockpunk* Frock Coatis that it's reversible (though it does make any shaping rather difficult, thus resulting in a loose, flared coat). It has a "fancy" side (purple faux silk damask) and a "practical" side (Tyrian purple faux suede) with all the various pockets. The various pockets (including ones under the cuff) and the cuffs themselves are in a dark brown faux suede. The documents glimpsed in the pockets are, as some readers may recognise, the New World Chronicle (of the larp, Maelstrom).

The cuffs fold both ways and the effort of reversing them does make quick costume changes difficult. The buttons go all around the sleeve, making for a nice effect, but they do occasionally catch.

There was briefly the intention of having different buttons on the two sides of the coat, but that was complication involving that and in the end, it never really came about.

The concept art to the left of the coat, of course, showing the two sides of it being worn. Originally, before the coat was shortened to mid-thigh, we toyed with the idea of adding utterly giant pockets to the practical side.

The camera ran out of battery during the shoot and we had to do some pick-up shots in my back garden the next week (bonus shot of the sniffly Mercenary bundled in an overcoat with bucket cuffs).

The beautiful pistols are again from Makai Larp and the dagger from Character Kit. The shirt and waistcoat are both from the Mercenary. The white is a steampunk shirt (though it is rather too big on the model)l. A black twin of the green waistcoat can be seen on the Victoriental Traveller. She is also wearing the ever-useful Beer Googles and has around her neck one of the lovely globe watches.

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £120-130.

More photos of the Reversible Clockpunk Frock Coat (including early design sketches) under the cut.


* The term clockpunk is used here largely because the coat and its character concept are vaguely intended for live roleplay setting which centres around clockwork and magic rather than steam engines, placing it - for those pedantically inclined - more in the realms of clockpunk than steam.

But really, who is the Mercenary kidding? I'm also hoping to crawl up the google search results as well.

Early Design sketch, by the Designer.

Damask Side:

Suede Side:

Detail Shots:

Prototype: Cavalry Armour

I've already remarked upon the Elizabeth I: The Golden Age overtones in the preview post, the coincidence of having a red-head and plate armour in a photoshoot. Perhaps not unlike our Unintentional Agatha Heterodyne Cosplay.

The armour is made from stainless steel and is modelled after medieval cavalry armour. It was a prototype piece as Julie Knox was working out how to work make plate armour.

I'm afraid Julie has utterly foresworn ever working with steel, but if you fancy commissioning some custom leather or latex armour (like or unlike the Oriet), do drop us an email.

Also seen in the photos is the beautifully detailed Mysdanael Short Sword, available from Character Kit for £80.

More photos of the cavalry armour under the cut.

Just the Pauldrons:

 The Mysdanael Short Sword:

The Midnight Blue Winged Doublet Again

This winged doublet is made from a midnight blue cotton velvet and is lined and edged in red linen. It closes in front with eight round metal buttons with a fairly subtle Celtic cross design.

Not much has changed since the last time this winged doublet appeared on the blog and, I daresay, I haven't gained any greater insight into it since, except that it works far better on the Proprietor (which is unsurprisng, really, since it actually fits him) and looks moderately dashing with breeches (despite the abounding anachronisms).

It's worn in this case over a basic frilly shirt, linen breeches from the Mercenary and some fencing socks.

To commission a similar doublet from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £75-85. This doublet prototype in particular is now available from Charackter Kit for £70.

More photos of the midnight blue doublet under the cut.

Last weekend, the Proprietor and myself were at Foreign Fields Larp Kit Fair. There was some really very excellent kit on display, including these giant skulls the size of a beach ball.

We had the spectacular monster claws with us and on the spur of the moment decided that they needed to be entered into the Fantasy Fashion Show upon the hands of the Proprietor. We had brought no specific costume to speak of, but we had "ingenuity" on our sides. Some fumbling through my stock later, the Proprietor was dressed in a feathered mantle, a camouflage green laced gamebson and a pair of basic drawstring trousers. We decided that this all together makes him a fearsome owlbear (darling of the various monster manual wtfs). I was in the surprisingly popular (but still unsold) twilight elven robes, which were not a little large on me but very flowing.

More photos (of varying quality) and rambling about Foreign Fields under the cut.

Photo down the central path down the trade fair.

Photo of the weapons and shields half of the Character Kit stall. Taken during setup, before the obsessive realigning of the swords happened. It's what sustains the sanity in the quieter hours (usually on Sunday), you see, careful ordering of the stall.

The cloth half of the stall, with Velvet Glove's most excellent and very reasonably priced selection of makeup visible.

The Proprietor with his Green Steampunk Coat, which has become something of a uniform at events like these. You can also just glimpse those monster claws creeping into view, as well as Velvet Glove's stunningly purple banner.

We were opposite Chow's Emporium, a veritable cave of wonders. Hers is a stall one can just get lost in with all the random, useful little things. She also stocks a fantastic range of ex-theatre costume. And also, rice hats.

Some truly awesome kit was showcased during the fashion show and really, what makes it onto the blog is more a coincidence of who came after me (since I wasn't doing photography was difficult when queuing behind-ish the stage) and which photos turned out tolerable.

 Some really inadequate photos of the stunningly beautiful red dragon armour from White Rose Apparel. Apparently he got a bit carried away with the detailing.

A truly fiercesome "old-school" orc from Evenlode Studio with a rune-engraved Medlock Armoury Axe (who I believe supplies Adventurer's Mart - rather infamous in my book for the electric kettle spear, but that's another story.)

A stunning snow-queen-esque ensemble from House of Freyja, the cloak specialists (they also do jewellry, a multitude of pretty things and medieval boardgames).

Duchess Fur-Trimmed Cloak from Primal Forge. It's really very pretty.

 Caroline from The Warrior's Wardrobe, also record-holder for the greatest number of costume changes in one Foreign Fields Fantasy Fashion Show. The little girl who was next to me whispered to the other child of Caroline's awesome exploits.

Beautiful leather things from McSkelly Leathers. I have a particular love of that leather samnite helmet. And those goggles, I say, actually do something (I have a deep, if unconfirmed, suspicion that the Proprietor may have bought them after excessive admiration)!

Goggles of all sorts, also from McSkelly Leathers.

Ryall Armories with steel replica armour. His beautiful girlfriend is hiding his beautiful kit in the photo, which is almost a disappointment. They also do painted banners of all sorts.

Simon Wright's The Sword Book at Having A Larp's stall. I am now a proud owner of a copy. Given I am a member of Northern Fight School, I have to say I feel more than slightly guilty for being so tardy in my purchase. More about the book itself in another post.

Foreign Fields was, as always, filled to brim with fantastic merchandise and fantastically friendly people (the organiser is threatening a larger venue next year). We met representatives of the local Fools and Heroes as well as people from the fantastic-seeming laser-tag-larp (among whom was this tinker who was very keen on LEDs). A famous author even bought a coat from me (squeeee!) We joked about the many possible purposes of enigmatic claw shield (including beer funnel, novelty hat and quality codpiece).

If all goes well, see you there next year?

Halloween and the Horrors of the Heart

Kathed and I wandered over to Saint Giles Church (the back of which is proving a rather popular location for us due to its proximity to where I live) and did a brief set of photos. The shortening days and increasingly fleeting good light conditions are making this harder and the cold is certainly not helping.

But yes, there are some that heavily involve a heart (inhumanly large, mechanically beating, from Tesco some years ago) as a prop. We're rather pleased with them.

It is perhaps a little strange that among larpers (people who dress up so very regularly in silly clothes) the imperative to come up with different, unrelated and non-overlapping costume seems so strong. But it is around these parts.

I remember the Designer went as the Milkman a few years ago with a number of old milk bottles, a white lab coat and a lot of inappropriate innuendos. It may or may not be the same year I went as a Disney princess. Or was it Seraph from the Matrix film that doesn't exist?

But yeah, paracetamol-fuelled rambling aside, and Happy Halloween!

Prototype: Arwen Coat

The elven coat is made from our usual faux suede in a shade of teal blue and the lacing in a silk chiffon. It's lined in faux silk and fastens down the front with hooks and eyes. The lacing down the front and back is largely decorative rather than to make the garment hugely adjustable. The lacing begins rather higher up on the chest than is necessary or aesthetically pleasing, but we hadn't time to remove the extraneous loops before the shoot.

It's borrows much more heavily from Arwen Evenstar's Chase Dress than anything else, though it of course lacks much of the sumptuous detailing of the original.

In a fit of ambition, we did try to put the Archaeologist's hair into some form of elven coiffure, using the most excellent and comprehensive Imaginary Styles as a guide.

It went rather better than the time I tried to braid my own hair for a different elven shoot (photos pending). I must conclude, though that I'm still really rather rough on my fishtail braids (the favoured braid of the Peter Jackson films it seems) and in the end, the Mercenary settled on the Legolas braid instead of any of the more elaborate hairstyles.

Some of the photos are taken with the Archaeologist wearing a corset underneath and some without. She's also wearing a shirt borrowed from Treasure Trap's infamous Armoury and a black stretch silk full circle skirt from the Mercenary.

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £90-100. The teal prototype itself has been sold, but a black version should but available on Character Kit for £90 shortly.

More photos of the chase dress under the cut.

This is, of course, not a replica of the armour worn by Cate Blanchett in the film, Elizabeth: the Golden Age as Queen Elizabeth. Or in, fact, anything close to it. It's more a coincidence from that fact that the Proprietor is trying to sell off a plate armour prototype and we happened to have a conveniently red-haired model for the shoot. The armour is just worn over some of the other kit we were photographing that day and we'd be the first to admit that the black trousers, though nondescript, don't exactly add to the look, but I think overall, considering it was a theme we just stumbled into as the Designer noticed we had all the basic components, it went pretty well.

We're back at the ruined chapel and using the same rose window. I'm only a little guilty, as we still have some rather solid shots and we did manage to try a few new angles.

As mentioned above, the cavalry armour is available on Character Kit for £110.00. Also pictured is the beautifully detailed Mysdanael Short Sword and the ever popular Fey Dagger.

For photos of the Cavalier, the Cad and the Cut-throat of the nominally named  under the cut.