Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
Texas Shakespeare Festival
This is our 5th year in a row to make it to Kilgore. This is hands down our favorite summer vacation and we look forward to it every year. I made our reservations extra early this year, so we got to stay at our favorite hotel, The Holiday Inn and Suites in Kilgore. This year the hotel gave us a discount for going to TSF, and Downtown D'Lites Cafe gave us a discount on our food for being Guild Members. We're still the only Guild Members from Waco.
The Design/Tech Staff
This year there was only costume designer for the four mainstage shows, every other year that we've been coming, there have been two. They brought back Angelina Herin again this year. She designed for them last year and the year before.
I was disappointed to find that the costumes weren't labeled this year and there was only one set model, the children's show The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster, on display. I asked why there were no set models of any of the mainstage shows on display this year and was told that because Othello and Born Yesterday had such immense sets that the scenic designer, Jason Jamerson, didn't build any set models in order to concentrate more of his effort on those two enormous builds.
Into The Woods
Directed and Choreographed by Daniel Haley
Costumes Designed by Angelina Herin
Scenery Designed by Jason Jamerson
Lighting Designed by Alice Trent
Wig Master Byron Batista
I'd seen Into the Woods before, back when I lived in El Paso, before I was a parent. Act I is great and then Act II is a downer. No one is happy with the wish that came true. The characters all learn lessons the hard way, just like in real life. On the surface it's an escapist fantasy that turns out to be a lesson in real life. The characters are all flawed and they all quickly turn to blaming each other for the mess they are in rather than working together to find a solution or even admitting their part in creating the mess. Everyone is in pain, everyone is punished. I thought that I might feel differently after I became a parent, but no, Act II is more of a downer now that I've experienced loss. Loss of a parent, loss of a child, either through estrangement or death, or even the hell that is hormones, puberty, and the search for independence, is real and visceral to me now and only seemed to make my experience of Act II worse than it was before when I was a seemingly carefree twenty-something. The play brings up many themes like "be careful what you wish for" because you might get it and when you do it probably won't be what you thought. The theme of "Children listen" to what you do, not what you say, so model behaviors that you want to teach them. Also, children are smart enough to notice when what you say and what you do do not match, so don't do anything that you don't want "printed on the cover of the New York Times" to steal a quote from Born Yesterday. The theme of "do the ends justify the means?" is answered with no, they don't, not if you hurt other people in the process.
In terms of the costume design, it looks just the way any fairy tale should. It's a mix of periods with lots of bright colors, textures, and patterns. There's a clear difference between the classes with the Royal Family in more expensive fabrics, bigger wigs, brighter colors, and the poor peasants in more homespun garments and even bare feet. I was very impressed with the Witch's quick change from old ugly hag, into young and beautiful sorceress. My one critique is that I felt her Act II costume looked like it had been borrowed from Lady Macbeth's "out damn spot" scene. I wanted her gown to be more colorful and less "I've drowned in the river because Hamlet rejected me." I was so sure this was a Lady Macbeth gown that my husband looked up Macbeth on the TSF page and found that although Meaghan Simpson did play Lady Macbeth back in 2014, it was neither the same costume nor the same wig. Regardless, her performance was great as the Witch. I was especially fond of the Stepmother and Stepsister's costumes and wigs. The stepmother was played by a man, Evan Hart, and at first we thought it was Matt Simpson, only at intermission did we discover our mistake. Another favorite was Little Red Riding Hood's costume. Her red cape was made not with just any old hood, but a medieval liripipe that was stuffed and then curled up at the end. You can't see it from the front view, but in the profile picture with the wolf it's quite visible although not as curly as it was when we saw it. The rendering for Rapunzel's gown is clearly inspired by Daenerys Targaryen's costume from the second season of Game of Thrones, but this gown did not materialize in the show. I felt that the dark blue gown Rapunzel ended up in (which was far less spectacular) was something that was pulled and not built and that decision was probably based on the lack of time or money.
Costume Renderings by Angelina Herin.
All photography by TSF.
As You Like IT
Directed by Matthew Simpson
Choreographed by Daniel Haley
Costumes Designed by Angelina Herin
Scenery Designed by Jason Jamerson
Lighting Designed by Alice Trent
Sound Designed by Richard L. Sprecker
Wig Master Byron Batista
I had read As You Like It in college at least once but had never worked on a production of it before. This production had a very similar feel to Twelfth Night from their 2015 season. The scenery featured a raised platform with steps leading down from the center that was made to look like a veranda during the court scenes with columns and railings. You could see the trees in the background with a netting of fall colored leaves. Once the action moves to the Forest of Arden, the veranda elements were struck leaving just the platform and steps. There was lots of live music in the show with the musicians singing and playing onstage. My only complaint about the music (or possibly the mics) is that the washboard was entirely too loud and I couldn't hear the singer over the washboard.
The show was set in the crinoline period, judging by the ladies' court costumes. Celia was in pink with a gold diagonal stripe running through the fabric, and longer sleeves. Celia's costume was more elaborate than Rosalind's was, as the poor relation living off her Uncle's generosity. Rosalind's court costume was blue but done up in a plain fabric with a tacked on white ruffle and matching center front panel in the bodice, like it was a hand-me-down from Celia that they'd had to add fabric to so that it would fit her.
Rick Higgenbotham played both Duke Frederick and Duke Senior, the former with a beard and the latter without. You'll notice in the photos that he's not wearing any facial hair for Duke Frederick. I'm imagining that the photos were taken at a dress rehearsal and the director and costume designer felt that Rick needed more than a change of coat to signify his changing of characters and the bad guy, Duke Frederick, got the facial hair tacked on at the last minute. Rick was wearing a white shirt, creme vest, and white pants with black boots as his base costume. Duke Frederick also wore a red cutaway tail coat, like a ringmaster, and carried a walking stick, while Duke Senior wore a light green frock coat with a straw hat. I was fretful for his dressers, he had to make so many quick changes, plus the facial hair. But he always came on in the right costume with the right facial hair. Touchstone wore a three piece suit of purple coat and pants with a brocade vest, which felt very similar to the costume he wore for his role in Love's Labour's Lost, as the girls' valet. No motley in this show. The rest of the men at court were dressed in a similar fashion. Orlando was dressed much more poorly than his brother Oliver, in brown pants, shoes, leather suspenders, blue faded shirt, white undershirt.
Once the action moves to the forest, those characters were dressed less formally, in just pants and vests, no jackets, from their rough living. Celia changes her pink and gold gown for a much subtler dress of pale green calico, but with the same amount of rich detail like pleating around the neckline and ruffles on the sleeves. Rosalind's Ganymede costume consisted of creme pants, white shirt, silver brocade vest, white frock coat, tall buff boots, and straw hat. Phoebe was in an orange and brown plaid V-necked cotton dress worn over a tan blouse with a brown leather belt and brown buttons. The only other female character, Audrey, was dressed even more plainly than Phoebe, in a greyish plaid dress unbuttoned over a very low cut white blouse and her apron on sideways. The sleeves were very large and she wore them with the cuffs rolled way up. The costume was a bit large and saggy for her, making her seem even more simple-minded.
Costume Renderings by Angelina Herin.
All photography by TSF.
As YOu Like It Panel
Our favorite part of the festival, besides watching the plays, is being able to attend the panels the morning after the play. This year our trip was planned so that we could see the As You Like It panel. The director, Matt Simpson, led the panel. The panelists were Lucas Iverson who played Orlando, Lea DeMarchi who played Rosalind, Rick Higginbotham who played both Duke Senior and Duke Fredrick, and the Stage Manager, Darielle Shandler Matt began by asking questions and letting each panelist answer them to start off our discussion.
The first question was, "Have you done this play before?" None of the actors had ever done it before being cast in this production and in fact it was Lea's first ever Shakespearean comedy. Matt had been in numerous previous productions, as had his wife Meaghan, so between the two of them they'd played most of the roles. I feel that that's a great boon for a director, to be very familiar with the play.
"What research or preparation did you do for your role?" Rick never watches another production when he's preparing for a role. He explained that he's too imitative as an actor and if he watches someone else performing his role he'll start imitating that actor and won't be able to stop himself, a thing he figured out while still in college, when he used to listen to recordings of great actors performing famous speeches and had a teacher tell him at an audition that he'd done a great Olivier, for example, but now please do it like yourself. Instead of watching productions, he will look up photos of productions to see costumes and hair and makeup ideas to get a feel for how the character might look. Lucas says he's a huge "thief" and will watch all the productions he can get his hands on. He watched the RSC production twice before he came to Kilgore and wished he'd taken more notes during his study abroad course in London where he got to study with an actor who played Orlando and did a scene for the class with Rosalind. Lucas likes to try bits of others' performances in rehearsal to see which of those things fits his interpretation of the character. Rosalind makes what she calls a "mental scrapbook" by listening to others' performances like Vanessa Redgrave's as Rosalind where she's tricking Orlando in the forest. She never watches the entire production, just scenes. Matthew makes a huge effort to do an amazing amount of research before he begins work on a show. He watches every production he can get his hands on, pictures, recordings, he'll even search out director's notes in the library. He loves to get overwhelmed with research before he starts. This is also my approach to a show.
In terms of choosing the 1840's as the setting for the play, Matt said that ecause much of the action is set in the Forest of Arden, he began thinking of Robin Hood, but then quickly moved beyond that setting. Matt prefers to update Shakespeare's comedies by moving them forward in time. He feels this makes them easier to relate to: falling in love, being betrayed by your family, running away from home. Matt stated that he was heavily influenced by O Brother, Where Art There?, as well as the Hatfield/McCoy feud, 12 Years a Slave, and the Civil War in general. He felt that Rosalind had a lot in common with Scarlet O'Hara in terms of being cast out of a position of wealth and power and into being dirt poor and having to take control of your situation in a way you never did before. Matt chose to set the play on a Southern plantation in the 1840's. A question that the production team had was whether or not to include Civil War uniforms. Although there are many Shakespearean plays where men in uniform appear, i.e. Much Ado About Nothing, there were no textual references to war, soldiers, or uniforms of any kind, so they avoided using those visual references.
There is so much music in Shakespeare, in fact this play has the most music. Matt wanted to have live music as much as possible, and because of O Brother, Where Art There? they wanted guitar, banjo, washboard, and harmonica. The sound designer, Richard L. Sprecker, composed all the music in AYLI and Othello. The budget for the show was $13,000, they spent $10,000 on costumes, and scenery and sound less than $5,000. 70% of the show was pulled from stock pieces. They do very little renting because they see it as a waste of money. I wholeheartedly agree.
The trees were built on wooden frames and then wrapped in burlap, stapled, and painted. The designer used the same trees for both Into the Woods and AYLI, they were just placed onstage in a different configuration. The multi colored leaves completely changed the palette. All the leaves were individually stapled to netting by the guild members as part of their volunteer work. The lighting made all the difference, between the spooky claustrophobic forest of Into the Woods and the bright, open, airy, and colorful Forest of Arden.
Directed by Leda Hoffman
Costumes Designed by Angelina Herin
Scenery Designed by Jason Jamerson
Lighting Designed by Alice Trent
Wig Master Byron Batista
Born Yesterday was written in 1946 by Garson Kanin. I'd never even heard of this play before, and assumed it would be a musty old period piece. I was so wrong. At this point in our history, it's suddenly very timely and a sadly accurate snapshot of our government and its leaders. A corrupt junk dealer, Harry, brings his show business girlfriend Billie Dawn, to DC with him in order to buy a Senator to get some laws changed so he can profit off the WWII scrap metal left all over Europe. Billie's lack of an education makes her stick out among the DC socialites, so Harry hires journalist Paul, to educate her. Once Billie starts reading books and newspapers, she figures out what kind of person Harry is and she has a problem with how he does business. She and Paul conspire to foil his plans. Their scheme works, and it seems that she and Paul will get married, having developed a true fondness for each other over the course of the play.
Ostensibly this play is a comedy and we do laugh at Billie's ignorance. However, I was surprised to discover that Harry is a complete villain, no better or worse than Iago. He orders everyone around, he demeans his employees, he shoves people out of his way, he's gruff, basically he's an overgrown bully. He treats Billie like a object, like he owns her; he yells at her. Later we find out he's a con artist at best and a war-profiteer at worst. He slaps Billie around, forcing her to sign some business papers. In Act III, he threatens her life. He is a nasty piece of work and it's not funny. We are genuinely afraid for Billie's life even though Billie isn't. We're glad when Harry gets his comeuppance and Billie leaves him for Paul.
The set was designed to resemble an expensive hotel suite, lavishly decorated in the Rococo style. We are told that Harry wanted only the best and this suite is costing him $235.00 a week. In comparison we are told that the maid who cleans it only makes $18.00 a week, whereas the Senator he's trying to buy makes $200.00 a week. The living area had white doors and crown molding, picture rail molding, chair molding, and baseboards all with gold trim and filigree, wood inlay floor inside a marble floor, with an Oriental rug underneath the lovely gold Queen Anne settee and matching chair, marble topped end tables and fireplace with brass screen and tools. There are gold sconces, gold door handles, gold picture frames, and green and gold draperies and even a gold telephone. The painting over the fireplace was Fragonard's "The Swing". Outside the window you could see a view of the dome of the Capitol building in the distance.
The costumes were typical 1940's clothes. Suits for the men, dresses for the ladies, nothing out of the ordinary. There were three acts, so everyone had at least three changes, Billie and Harry had three changes each in Act I alone. Although there's not a photo of it, Billie, played by Angie Atkinson (who also played Emilia in Othello), started off Act I in a gorgeous hot pink satin dress with matching shoes, white purse, gloves, and coat, and fancy pink hat trimmed in feathers and net. She immediately goes upstairs and changes into her dinner dress of a dark green satin for meeting the Senator and his wife. I found out later that the green dress had originally been made out of gold fabric because the furniture was supposed to have been blue. The gold dress was finished before the furniture had been purchased and because the scenic designer got such an amazing deal on the gold couch, that was the one that made it onstage. The minute she sat on the couch, she disappeared, so the gold dress was scratched and made up again in green. After the dinner party, Billie changes into her pale pink peignoir set for a late night game of gin rummy complete with marabou trimmed slippers. In Act II we saw her studying her books in a black blouse printed with yellow daisies with green piping trim, worn with green pants, a la Katherine Hepburn. She also wore horn-rimmed reading glasses. In Act III, she wore a smart blue suit. The ladies' wigs were perfectly styled and very elegant.
Harry, played by Walter Jacob (who also played Jacques in AYLI) had a lot of changes as well. In Act I he starts off in a two piece, subtle plaid, chocolate brown suit with a button down tan sweater vest and brown tie, then immediately changes into a double-breasted, dark charcoal grey pinstripe suit with a red tie and carnation. He changes into dark red silk pajamas and a striped brown robe with velvet collar, cuffs, and belt with leather slippers for the gin rummy game, that he continually loses. In Act II he wears tan trousers with a mauve suit coat, brown print tie, and brown shoes. It's an odd choice. In Act III, which is just a few hours later, he lost the mauve suit coat, taken off the tie, and exchanged it for the bathrobe and slippers. I took an immediate dislike to Harry's character, which made me admire Walter's acting even more. I imagine that he had a difficult time in rehearsals working up to being as nasty as the part required, especially after seeing him be sensitive Jacques the night before.
Paul, played by DJ Canaday (who also played the Baker in Into The Woods) is in some variation of a blue suit the entire show. In Act I, he wore blue/grey plaid slacks and a bright blue blazer with a brown tie with blue print. In Act II he wore his argyle brown and blue sweater vest with a more conservative blue suit. In Act III he's in a navy blue suit with yellow print tie.
Harry's lawyer, Ed Devery, played fabulously by Micah Gooding, wears the same brown slacks and lighter brown coat with a mustard yellow tie throughout the entire play almost like he never goes home to sleep or change. His costume gets more and more slapdash, wrinkled, and slept-in looking as the play goes on and he gets drunker and drunker. Rick Higgenbotham plays Senator Hedges and wears a grey three piece suit with a grey bowtie.
Mrs. Hedges, played by Lea Dimarchi who played Rosalind in AYLI, wears a lovely charcoal grey floral print dress with three quarter sleeves and a collar. Although Lea is half Rick's age, she carried off her part with the grace and dignity of Eleanor Roosevelt, even quoting her at one point. With her elegant wig having just the right amount of grey in it, I totally believed she was the right age to be an old senator's wife, when just the night before she'd played Rick's daughter.
There's a bevy of hotel employees/servants running through the show that no one seemed to get a photo of, all in their matching red and black, black and white, or grey uniforms: Two bellhops, a maid, a manicurist, a barber, a shoe-shine boy, and a waiter, all of varying degrees of fanciness.
Costume Renderings by Angelina Herin.
All photography by TSF.
Born Yesterday and Othello were the two biggest sets this year and Danny recommended that we stay to watch the changeover. Luckily TSF filmed it so you can see it as well. Thanks to Amber Goebel for doing that.
Directed by Donald Carrier
Costumes Designed by Angelina Herin
Scenery Designed by Jason Jamerson
Lighting Designed by Alice Trent
Sound Designed by Richard L. Sprecker
Wig Master Byron Batista
Never was there a story of more woe than that of Desdemona and her Othello.
The director, Donald Carrier, chose to set his production in the Italian Renaissance as Shakespeare intended. The scenery was grey Gothic stone buildings with archways and rose windows. The grey stone was dressed up with wrought iron railings on the balcony and wrought iron door handles. In the stage right corner the steps and walls were painted to resemble tile with geometric patterns. I noticed that the floor was spattered in several different colors of paint so that it would appear to be a different color under light. The light behind the rose windows made them glow a warm golden amber. There was a fog machine making the atmosphere a bit hazy. The sound design was amazing. Every time Iago would monologue about his evil plans, there would be the sound of eerie bells in a minor key, then just piano and drums, while a storm was beginning to brew and rage in the distance. At various times there were alarm bells, musicians playing a viol and a flute, and later, organ music. The sound designer, Richard L. Sprecker, did a magnificent job of manufacturing the dark and moody aural atmosphere of the play.
There was a prologue a la Romeo and Juliet where a masked singer sang about Jealousy, foreshadowing the plot. It seemed like it was in the script at the time, only later did I look up the text to find that Othello does not begin with a prologue, so whether it was written specifically for this production or was lines borrowed from within the play itself, it felt like it belonged there. As always the acting was magnificent. Cordell Cole played Othello to Tim Sailor's Iago. They were the only two men in the company not forced to wear inappropriately frizzy and very unnecessary wigs. Othello was published in 1604 and by that point men had given up their long hair due to the lace ruffs that were in fashion at the time. If any false hair was going to be onstage it should have been on their faces and not their heads. Most men in this period had facial hair that came to be known as the Van Dyke, named after the Flemish portrait painter of the same name. A Van Dyke consisted of a moustache and goatee with the cheeks shaved. The men in Othello all looked like they'd stepped out of an 1980's hair band video. That is partly why I couldn't take any of them seriously except Othello and Iago. And even then Othello needed some more facial hair to help him look less baby-faced and more manly. Or conversely, if everyone else had had Van Dykes, and Othello didn't, that would have been OK too. Of all the characters to not have any facial hair at all, Iago definitely needed some to make him look more wicked. But that's just my opinion and doesn't diminish the success of this production. Perhaps because I came of age in the 1980's, that's all I could see.
The women wore the typical Tudor high-waisted gowns of sumptuous silks and satins, while the men paraded around in Venetians (fitted breeches that ended below the knee) or slops (very loose breeches that ended below the knee), and doublets. The soldiers' Venetians had colored trim sewn to them, in alternating red and gold on the bottom half, and either red, blue, or gold trim on the top half. I was very confused by this. My first instinct was that the vertical placement of the trim was meant to fake panes and my second instinct was the varying colors indicated rank. Either way, it was a nice addition to the plain black Venetians, but the blue trim was very distracting on Cassio as it was WAY too bright; when he was on stage it made me look at his crotch rather than his face. Plus it bothered me that it was a clear attempt to make all the black pants look like part of a uniform, which being all black they were doing just find by themselves, yet none of their doublets matched. If the blue stripe was supposed to tell me that Cassio was the Lieutenant and the red stripe that Iago was an Ensign, then maybe Cassio should have had a blue doublet and Iago a red one, and all the other nameless, rankless soldiers should have been gold. Instead each man had a different colored doublet: Cassio's was black, Iago's grey, nameless faceless soldiers wore various shades of brown, red, or no doublet at all.
Othello also wore black pants like his men but were devoid of any colored trim whatsoever. With his black Venetians he wore a lavender kimono over a purple shirt with silver trim on the neckline, all held together with a blue sash around his waist. It looks way more regal in the rendering than it did under the lights. There was no ornate gold trim at neck and sleeves, as indicated in the rendering, the kimono hung too lightly on him and should have been made from heavier fabric. He puts a black leather breastplate and bracers on over this costume to get ready to go to war, but then takes them off when the threat passes. He eventually takes off the sash and the kimono, strangling Desdemona in just his lavender shirt which gets completely washed out under the lights. Cordell Cole completely out-performed his costume in this role, which was disappointing for me, especially after I saw the rendering and realized what Angelina Herin had intended it to look like. I'm not sure what the disconnect was there but it was unfortunate.
There are only three women in this play--the men get most of the stage time. Both Desdemona and Emilia had two courtly gowns, with Desdemona wearing her white shift that she gets strangled in, underneath the other gowns as was normal practice then. Bianca only gets one gown that she wears in both her scenes. Desdemona's first gown was a brown, creme, and gold striped satin gown with the seams making chevrons at the center front of the bodice and on the short sleeves. Her shift covers all her cleavage coming up quite high on her chest. The gown she is pictured in on the rendering below may have been designed for her but was worn by Emilia instead in the same scene where Desdemona is in brown. Emilia's shift only barely conceals her cleavage. I don't understand why Emilia, the Ensign's wife and servant of Desdemona wore a much more colorful, elegant, and costly looking gown than her mistress, the General's wife. Why was this beautiful sumptuous blue and gold creation designed for Desdemona and then made up for Emilia when Emilia should have been the one in brown without all the gold trim? And to add insult to injury, Emilia wore a headdress through the entire play, like her own little crown. If you were watching the show with the sound off you would believe that Emilia was Desdemona and vice versa. It's a mystery. It was so distracting I almost couldn't concentrate on what they were saying...almost. Fortunately (for me) when they changed into their second costumes, Emilia was in a cheaper, plainer, browner fabric that looked very similar to what Desdemona had been wearing in the beginning, but stilll with a matching headdress, while Desdemona changed into a creme satin gown with no shift underneath and a cleavage revealing square neckline. At least the colors and textures were correct for the characters' social status this time. For Desdemona's final change, she appears in another shift, this time one that is made up in the filmiest cotton gauze with an overabundance of gold embroidery and beadwork around the neckline and the cuffs, not practical for sleeping in, I would think all those beads would make for a lumpy, restless night a la Princess and the Pea. But the weirdest costume of all is Bianca's. The character whose only function in the play is to be Cassio's whore that wants more out of their relationship, wears a virginal, white, frothy confection with double puffed sleeves and three tiers of ruffled skirt with a pink satin robe thrown over the whole thing. She looks more than anything like a child playing dress up in her mother's nighty. This effect was perhaps more enhanced because the actress playing her was significantly shorter than everyone else in the play.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed the production but was left confounded by the costumes.
Costume Renderings by Angelina Herin.
All photography by TSF.
The Kilgore Rangerette Museum
Ever since we've been coming to TSF, I've wanted to see the Rangerette Museum. A friend of mine from high school made the team back in 1986. She was sort of famous in our hometown because of that. So I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the team. The website has always proclaimed that they are open on Wednesday through Friday 10 am till 3 pm. The first year we didn't get there till Saturday, so we missed it. The next year I was smart and we got there on Friday at lunch so that we could see the museum before the matinee started. Sadly, the neon sign was off and no one was home. Every year since then I kept going by there at different times on Friday to visit it and it's NEVER been open. This year, finally, we drove by and the neon OPEN sign was ON! There were people walking in the door. I figured it was my lucky day and we immediately pulled over and parked so we could go in. As it turned out, the only reason it was open was because they were having a summer orientation for the brand new Rangerettes and their parents. We had followed in a girl and her family just like we were related to them and the staff let us go right on in. I took some photos, checked out the display, and we ducked out before anyone was the wiser.
From the website:
KICKIN' SINCE 1940
"In 1939, Kilgore College Dean, Dr. B.E. Masters, decided that the college needed an organization that would attract young women to the college and keep people in their seats during football game halftimes. His goal of equalizing the male/female student ratio had a secondary benefit - the folks would stay in the stands during halftime instead of sipping improper beverages under them. Dr. Masters brought Miss Gussie Nell Davis to Kilgore College to create something special. Her creation and gift to the world were the Kilgore College Rangerettes! The first group of its kind in the world, the Rangerettes brought "show business" to the football gridiron. Miss Davis' team took to the field during the 1940 football season, pioneering the field of dancing drill teams now seen across the nation. Miss Davis retired in 1979, and passed away on December 21, 1993."
If you haven't heard of the world-famous Kilgore Rangerettes, here's a National Geographic article that will get you up to speed.
Here's a video of their last home game half-time performance.
There was a documentary made in 1972 called Beauty Knows No Pain of the Kilgore Rangerettes. I saw this documentary on TV in the 1980's. I wish someone would put it up on You Tube, but you can see it at the museum. For the 75th Anniversary, Chuck Hale was asked to make another documentary, but instead he made a feature length film, called Sweethearts of the Gridiron, which you can also see at the museum. Here's a trailer.
Christian Dior's family had a fertilizer business before the war. His father wanted him to be a diplomat, but instead Christian went to art school in Paris and then opened his own gallery where he sold paintings by the likes of Picasso, Braque, Matisse, and Miro. During the Great Depression, his family lost the fertilizer business, Dior had to close his art gallery, and he was called up for military service when WW II started. After his two years of service, Dior became a designer for one of France's biggest fashion houses, Lucien Lelong. Unfortunately, Paris was still suffering under the Nazi occupation, and Dior had to design dresses for Nazi officer's wives as well as the wives of French collaborators. During this time his sister Catherine, was working with the French Resistance and had been captured and sent to a concentration camp where she remained until the end of the war.
Once the war ended, the fashion industry in Paris was ready to renew its status as the Fashion Center of the World. Dior struck out on his own because he wanted to put the war behind him and he especially did not want his new line to be associated with the Lelong House which had been forced to clothe Nazis. His first line Corolle (which means circlet of flower petals in English) was presented in 1947 and was both vehemently protested and wildly successful. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack 10 years later at the height of his career.
Before we go any further, let's back up a bit.
To understand why Dior's New Look was such a fashion revolution, and caused riots in the streets, you have to understand that it was a reaction to World War II and specifically, wartime clothes rationing. Europe and North America's economies had been co-opted to produce goods for the war effort, which lasted from 1939-1945. Clothes purchasing was strictly rationed just like food and all other goods. The clothing industry was desperate to meet the demand for uniforms and civilian clothing was in a severe shortage. Women went to work in factories to replace the men who went to the battlefield. Women wore pants for the first time, as part of their work uniform.
Coupons for clothes were given out and families were only allowed three coupons a month, yet a new dress cost eleven coupons in England, a pair of shoes cost five coupons, and a pair of stockings cost two coupons. Early on women had been forced to wear nylon stockings because the silk was being used for parachutes. Later, even that was taken away and women went bare-legged, sometimes using cosmetics to fake stockings, including drawing a line up the back of the leg to simulate the seam. As you can see, buying new clothes was almost impossible for most people and everyone was encouraged to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without".
Most wartime weddings were quickly thrown together before the groom was shipped out, and together with clothes rationing, there was not enough time, money, or fabric available to make an extravagant dress. Most women got married in a dark suit. White was not worn because it was felt to be in bad taste. My maternal grandmother Charlotte, got married in a beige suit before her TAMU Army husband got shipped out. My paternal grandmother Mildred, got married in a brown suit, even though her husband was 4F and not going to war because of his asthma. Unfortunately, I don't have any wedding photos of either of my grandmothers.
My husband's grandmother Mary, got married on 11-17-1941, just three weeks before Pearl Harbor. Her husband was immediately called up and enlisted in the Army. Mary got married in a knee-length dress with 3/4 sleeves and a round embroidered neckline. Both the bodice and the skirt have a yoke and two pleats in the front.
This is an English couple: Hugh Verity and Audrey Stoke's 1941 wedding portrait. Like everything in this period, Audrey's clothing for her special day was austere. Women's clothes were boxy like men's uniforms. Dresses used very little fabric and there were no decorative details. Audrey's suit is blue to match Hugh's RAF uniform. The skirt is knee length and slim. The matching jacket has 3/4 sleeves, a high neckline and Peter Pan collar.
Now that we have the appropriate historical context, let's get back to Dior's 1947 Corelle line. This is a photograph of a model wearing Dior's famous Bar suit, which American fashion editor Carmel Snow, dubbed "The New Look" in Harper's Bazaar. It was only one of eighteen pieces in his Corolle Collection for Spring and Summer, but it's the one that changed fashion forever. The Bar suit is made up in white silk shantung for the jacket and black wool for the skirt. There is a total of 17 yards of fabric in this ensemble. The jacket and skirt had padding in the bust and hips to round out the silhouette of the skinny, war-starved Parisian woman's body. The jacket's peplum created a very nipped in waist especially in contrast to the very full skirt. Gone is the boxy skirt, replaced by an outrageous amount of fabric pleated down to a narrow waist. The skirt hem is much longer than previous fashions, going all the way down to the mid-calf. It was shown with accessories of a black hat, pearl stud earrings, black gloves, and black heels.
There were two reasons this dress caused rioting in the streets of Paris when it premiered. First, it used an incredible amount of fabric, 17 yards, which to the woman who was used to wartime rationing, seemed obscene and wasteful. Second, women who had gone to work and therefore worn the pants in their families, were angry that they had lost those jobs in favor of the men who had come back from war. Their skirt hemlines had gotten higher and higher over the course of the war, showing off their legs more and more. They saw the full skirts and mid-calf hemline as Dior telling them to cover up their legs again. They saw it as a lessening of the rights they had gained during war-time. So when this dress first appeared at a 1948 photoshoot that was held outside, crowds of women ripped it off the model's body and tore it to shreds. Regardless of the immediate push-back, American and European socialites, as well as the British royalty, were ready for the change and embraced it as being soft and feminine and a welcome change from wartime austerity.
I got a guidebook that had a map of the exhibit on the back page. Here it is, so you can follow along. The layout was in chronological order so that's the order I'll be going by as well. The entrance is marked by the red box and we followed the arrows through the exhibit, until we got back to the beginning. Blog Sections are labeled the same as on the map.
Revolutionary New Look
The dress on the bottom left is the Bar. Actually, it's not. It's a reproduction of the original that was made in 1987 for Dior's Fortieth Anniversary. The lighting in this room, as well as in the rest of the exhibit, made it difficult to get good photos. This is the only dress from the original Corolle line in the exhibit. The other seventeen pieces in this room were designed to be callbacks to this original line by other designers across the years up to the present day. As you can see all but two of the ensembles are black. I overheard many people wondering, "Why all the black?". Although there was nothing in the exhibit or in the guide book about it, my guess would be that many women were still in mourning over lost husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers. Although Paris had been saved, England was still rebuilding from the Blitzkrieg, as was much of Europe. Black was probably chosen as a practical color for that reason. Don't worry, there's more color coming soon.
Office of Dreams
This was the second room of the exhibit which documents Dior's process. The House of Dior still follows these steps today.
This is a caricature of Dior working at his desk.
These are sketches done by Dior himself and given to Madame Carre, head of the ateliers (workshop) where she would interpret the sketches by using fabric to make prototypes of each design, called toiles.
Dior in conference with Mdm. Carrere preparing the 1957 Spring Collection at the atelier.
These are toiles (or mock-ups). Toiles are half sized sample mannequins that are used to show designs before they are cut out and stitched together at full size. Each one of Dior's sketches was made up at half size in white cotton muslin and sent to him for approval before colors, fabrics, and trims were chosen. As she showed each toiles to Dior, Madame Carre would ask him, "Have I expressed you correctly?" Once each toile was approved, it was taken apart and used to create the full sized patterns for each garment. These particular toiles are from a much later period: 2007-2018.
Seamstresses in the Dior atelier c. 1950.
These are embroidery samples made by the atelier based on sketches by Dior.
The third room showcased dresses made in the first period of The House of Dior and encompasses not only Christian Dior's designs, 1947-57, but also his subsequent artistic directors:
Yves Saint Laurent, 1958-60,
Marc Bohan, 1961-89,
Gianfranco Ferre 1989-96.
From here on out I have tried to label the photos in the gallery with the relevant information from the guide book, but as will become much clearer later, the person in charge of numbering the dresses in the exhibit, didn't care much for order. So, because I was told upfront that everything was labeled and described in the guide book and all I had to do was appreciate the dresses, I didn't pay that much attention to which number belonged to what dress because I was sure that I could figure it out later. All I had to do was note one number in each room and the rest should surely follow suit. Well, they didn't. The numbering was all over the place. So I have done my best to correctly identify these gowns but gave it up for a bad job rather quickly after these first two sections. Sorry.
John Galliano 1997-2011
Raf Simons 2012-2015
Maria Grazia Chiuri 2016-present
Ladies in Dior
The numbering system for the Center Back display was posted on the wall as you left this area. Fortunately, the museum employee who was stationed in this area told us all to take a photo of the legend first and then go through the exhibit. IMO, the numbering system was unnecessarily arbitrary. Also, the display was way above our eye level, so none of these photos are really in focus because they were too far away from the back where you could see them, but once you got up close, you couldn't see the upper levels at all.
The photo below was taken from the back of the room.
These photos were taken from midway in the room and are still too small and out of focus.
From Paris to the World
As you can see the dresses were arranged in tiers going up three levels. My eye level was at the feet of the first level of dresses. The dresses were lit from underneath, so again, the photos are not great. At this point I'm not even trying to identify each gown or this blog would never get published.
From the guidebook:
"From hats and shoes to makeup and perfume, Christian Dior offered women a "total look". He expanded his business to an unprecedented level, licensing specialized companies to manufacture products under the fashion house's control. Dior wanted "a woman to be able to leave the boutique dressed [by Dior] from head to toe, even carrying a present for her husband in her hand.
A selection of lipsticks provided matching lip color for every dress. Shoes and jewelry were created in collaboration with the very best designers and artisans. The same spirit extended to Dior's packaging and display. These items all mirrored the house's iconic palette, dominated by pink, the color of youth and happiness, and red, the color of life, as exemplified by the show-stopping dresses known as "Trafalgars," made to astonish audiences halfway through a presentation. With his total look, Dior pioneered the globalization and branding that still characterize the world of fashion today."
Splendors of the 18th Century
After WWII it was very important to Dior to bring back France's splendor and he felt that the Rococo period's elegance was just the right thing to do that. He had He had his headquarters decorated in the Rococo style to match the building's facade. He went so far as to photograph his collections in the Palace of Versailles. His subsequent artistic directors have also hearkened back to this time for inspiration.
Fields of Flowers
Like Monet, Dior drew inspiration from gardening and believed that, "After women, flowers are the most divine creations". Also like Monet he spent a lot of time and money turning his personal gardens into wondrously fanciful places for his inspiration.
Sketches, Research, and Inspiration boards
Many of the rooms contained photos of the process of his creation as well as original sketches by the designers. I took photographs of everything I was allowed to so these are all from different eras, but I've put them together in this section for ease of categorization.
The Dior exhibit will only be at the DMA until September 1, 2019. You need to get there ASAP so you can see it. The tickets for all the rest of the dates went on sale July 15th, so the sooner you go online to buy yours the better chance you have to actually see it. Tickets are $20 for a weekday, and $25 for a weekend. There are discounts for Seniors, Military, and Students with valid ID.
Here are things you need to know before you go online to purchase tickets. If you want to go with friends, you can only purchase four tickets together at a time with one credit card. If I had wanted to take my family of 5, we would have had to go in two different time slots. Kids 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Kids 11 and under are free, as are DMA members. However, EVERYONE, EVEN DMA MEMBERS, EVEN CHILDREN 11 AND UNDER, EVERYONE! must still go online and reserve/buy tickets because they are timed entry tickets, which as we all know, is a pain in the butt and means long lines, but just get over that now if you really want to see this. Entrances are timed for every 15 minutes in groups of 30. As of this writing, there are still a few tickets left in most of the weekday time slots for next week, (July 23-28) but almost none for the weekend time slots. August still has 15-20 tickets left for most time slots every day.
So you're a teacher, like me, and you want to take your school group. You think you'll get a discount because you're with a school. HA! You are so wrong. You cannot take a big school group to this because those prices START at $2,000.00 for groups up to 20 people (unless your school has a lot of money they are willing to give you and if so, congratulations! I want to teach with you). I've thought a lot about this and your best bet to get a school group in is to get some other parents/teachers to help you out and buy groups of four tickets in consecutive time slots until all the students are taken care of. Now, that will only work as long as all your kiddos are older than 15 and don't need to be accompanied by an adult. Or you could put all your underage freshman/ sophomores individually in with your groups of three juniors/seniors and maybe the museum staff won't notice that one kid out of every four looks a bit on the young side. Otherwise you'll have to take more teachers/parents to accompany the underage kids. FYI, the day that I went, there were zero children in the exhibit. Most of the attendees were middle-aged women like myself. I didn't even notice any teenage girls with their moms. There were only a few likely looking college fashion students that were studiously documenting everything just like I was.
Now that you have the 411, congratulations!
Here's the link to buy your tickets!
Once you have your tickets, be prepared to arrive at the museum 15-30 minutes before your time slot begins to start queuing with the 26-29 other people in your group. DO NOT BE LATE! YOU WILL NOT GET IN! YOU WILL HAVE TO BUY ANOTHER TICKET FOR A LATER DAY/TIME. However, once you are in, you can spend as much time as you want in there. No one will hurry you along, except in the "Paris to the World/Ladies in Dior" room where they slow down the process even more by allowing only smaller family groups, couples, or individuals in, one tiny group at a time. I spent about 75 minutes in there, and that was mostly waiting for people to move out of the way so I could get a clear shot for the photograph I was desperately trying to take of every single item.
Photographs were allowed throughout the exhibit, except for in the "Legendary Photographs" Room, where you cannot take any photographs of the actual photographs. There are both warning signs posted as well as staff telling you as soon as you approach the room. Also, in the "From Paris to the World/Ladies in Dior" room the staff member will only allow one person per family group to take photos, so be prepared to fight for the right to be that person. I was alone, so this was not a problem for me.
The Dallas Museum of Art is fairly easy to find and has a lovely underground parking garage where your car will stay nice and cool, out of the summer sun. You can take an elevator up to the lobby entrance and save your knees. There are plenty of stairs inside if you choose to see the rest of the museum after your Dior experience. There are elevators too, but it's confusing and you might miss some collections entirely. For example, the Japanese Woodblock Print exhibit is hiding in a secret hallway that connects the staff library to the staff offices. We found it looking for bathrooms/water fountains. FYI, there are none down that hallway. And, we've been to the DMA at least once a year, and we still get turned around and can't find what we're looking for half the time. Also, the second floor was completely closed when we were there and elevators wouldn't even stop on it. Apparently they are renovating it. No word on when it is reopening.
But you're tired and hungry and need some food. Don't settle for expensive museum cafe food. Walk straight out of the museum, across the street and turn left. Right down the little hill in front of you is a great Mexican restaurant called El Fenix. You can see the sign from the entrance. Go eat there and either go home afterward, or go back to the museum refreshed and see the rest of the collection.
Astronaut space suits
Today we were all excited to go see the Mayborn Museum exhibit "Be The Astronaut". After the amazing Titanic exhibit last summer we were super excited and didn't take any children just so that we could take as much time as we wanted without the constant, "I'm bored, when are we leaving?" We chose today because the Mayborn has for YEARS had a first Sunday is free program. So we got there only to find out that first Sundays are no longer free as of this summer. We paid $8.00 per ticket to see it anyway. When we got in, we quickly realized that whoever put this exhibit together left half of it at home, probably because it wouldn't all fit into the gallery space. There were a dozen or so computer simulations allowing you to either launch a rocket, land on the moon, or drive the Mars rover. There was supposed to be a rocket, a moon lander and a Mars rover vehicle in the exhibit according to all the signage around the gallery. The only "objects" to look at were some moon landing Lego sets and these two space suits.
The first one is the Apollo A7-LB Lunar Spacesuit which was used in Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions in the early 1970's. Here's the wikipedia article where you can read more in depth details about the history of the suit and all its design features. Neil Armstrong described his suit a "tough, reliable, and almost cuddly".
The second suit is actually from the movie, Deep Impact, made in 1998. Gerry Griffin, the former director of the LBJ Space Center in Houston was a consultant on the film as well as former astronaut, David Walker. The actors in the suits were very uncomfortable during filming and, according to Jon Favreau, were "hung on racks" still in their suits and rolled outside to get some fresh air while on breaks.
As you can see the closer we came to the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo mission, the more things have been published on the space suits. CBS did a story on the seamstresses who made the Apollo suit that I will summarize here.
The Apollo 11 spacesuits had to be flexible, compact, and light-weight. International Latex, the company that manufactured Playtex bras and girdles, made a mock up, filmed an employee playing football in it, and won the government contract. The suits were made from 21 layers of very thin fabric and sewn to a "precise tolerance of 1/64" on what looks to be old heavy duty treadle machines. The goal was accuracy rather than speed. This is Lillie Elliott cutting out the patterns for the Apollo suits. After a fiery explosion that killed three astronauts during testing, the suits were revamped to remove anything that might burn.
Here is the entire video segment, for your enjoyment. It includes much more information such as interviews with the NASA engineers, as well as the last man to walk on the moon, Jack Schmitt.
Here is a Wall Street Journal article on Neil Armstrong's moon suit detailing the conservation efforts made to get it back on public display by July 16 for the 50th anniversary of the launch, which I will summarize for you here.
After the moon landing, NASA decontaminated the suit and sent it out on a tour of the US. Afterwards it was put on display at the Air and Space Museum for 30+ years. It was removed from the display in 2006 for conservation when it started showing signs of deterioration. The rubber layer in the interior of the suit had become brittle and was flaking, the zippers had begun to rust, and the suit was off-gassing vapors. The suit had also collected quite the amount of dust just from the thousands of visitors to pass by every day.
Lisa Young and her team of conservators at the Smithsonian interviewed the seamstresses who originally made the suit to learn more about how it was made, in order to help conserve it. Obviously with such a one of a kind object, they couldn't take it apart to clean and/or replace worn out components. They did however x-ray the suit as well as use a CT scanner on it. Spectrometric analysis showed that some of the dust on the suit was actually moon dust, so that was left alone. The suit now has a be-spoke mannequin and a new display case with filtered air ventilation system to keep the moon dust in and the public's dust out, as well as to remove the off-gassing vapors which would further deteriorate the suit if left behind.
Mary Robinette Kowal's NY Times article "To Make it to the Moon, Women Have to Escape Earth's Gender Bias", was published on July 17, 2019 and immediately caused quite the stir on Twitter. But before I can tell you about the Twitter controversy which I'm saving for the end, I'm going to give you some more information on the history of the Mercury 13 program, that Kowal only summarizes for you in her article. You should really read her whole article, but if you've already read your quota of free NYT articles for the month and don't already have a subscription, never fear, I will summarize it for you later. Back to The Mercury 13.
In the 1950's before anyone had gone to space, Dr. Randolph Lovelace discovered that women might be better suited for space travel than men. Women were "smaller, which would reduce the weight of payloads. They had better cardiovascular health and lower oxygen consumption. And they tolerated higher G-forces and outperformed men on isolation and stress tests." So, he found some likely female candidates and put them through the same rigorous testing as the male candidates for the Mercury program and thus the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLAT) program was born. Thirteen women passed the tests and one of them, Jerrie Cobb, ranked in the top 2% of all astronaut candidates of both genders. However, none of the Mercury 13, as they came to be known years later, ever made it to space. The program was cancelled despite the women lobbying Congress to fight the ruling. In 1995, all of the eleven surviving women were invited to Cape Canaveral to attend the launch of the Discovery shuttle, but only seven of them could make it due to health reasons. The first ever group photo of them was shot there. The other six women were Jane Hart, Janet Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Irene Leverton, Rhea Woltman, and Janey Briggs.
Currently, 537 men have been in space, but only 61 women have made the same journey. The reason the numbers are so unequal is nothing less than gender bias, which Kowal's article does a magnificent job of detailing, and now I will summarize that for you as well.
Originally, the biggest reason that women were excluded was that all candidates had to be a pilot with a minimum of 1,500 hours flying time AND that had graduated from a certified test pilot school. The only test pilot schools were military and did not accept female students until 1976. Of course there were many women in our history who were pilots and had more than enough hours of flying time. The WASPS were a whole division of women who were test pilots during WWII. However, none of them had the official piece of paper. This is the reason that the Mercury 13 program was devised in the first place, to get around that requirement.
In 1979, just three short years after women were finally admitted to test pilot schools, these were the next group of females who were trained for space flight. Every single one of them made it to space eventually. Sally Ride was the first American woman in space in 1983 aboard the Challenger space shuttle. In 1986, Judith Resnick was the second American women in space for a brief 73 seconds when the Challenger exploded on takeoff, killing everyone aboard. Sullivan and Fisher both went into space in 1984, Seddon went a year later in 1985, and last but not least, Shannon Lucid finally made it there in 1996 going aboard the Mir space station.
Even so, women in the military were specifically banned from combat duty and not allowed to fly in combat missions until that ban was lifted in 2013. Case in point, Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins became the very first female Blue Angel pilot in 2014. But back to the astronauts.
Due to the NASA gender bias that preferred male astronauts, all things space-related were then designed and engineered for men's bodies from the L and XL sizes of the space suits, the space between ladder rungs, to the hand tools sized for a larger grip. The cooling system in the suits were designed for men's sweat patterns and optimized for men's average body temperature. Once peeing in space became a concern, the suits and toilets were designed to fit men's external genitalia. And despite all this, 61 women compensated for these biases and went to space anyway.
Now back to the Twitter controversy. FYI, Mary Robinette Kowal is a Nebula and Hugo-award winning SF author. I'm just going to quote the relevant parts from a rather long and still evolving thread on Kowal's Twitter Feed:
"Let's talk about peeing in space. Several people, in response to my NY Times essay, have said that women couldn't go into space because we lacked the technology for them to pee in space. When the Mercury program was proposed, doctors were worried that people would not be able to urinate or even swallow without the aid of gravity. And yet, they still made plans to send a man into space. When Alan Shepherd became the first American man to go into space, it was scheduled to be a fifteen-minute mission. Up. Hello space! Back down. They made no plans for peeing. Launchpad delays meant that Shepherd hit a point where he needed to go. Badly. He asked Mission Control for permission to go in his suit. After consultation with flight surgeons & suit technicians, they gave him permission to do so. So he wet himself & still went into space. Later, they solved this problem by developing a sheath, that looked much like a condom. It worked great in testing, but when the actual astronauts used it, the sheath kept blowing off and leaving them with pee in their suits. Was this about extended time in the spacesuit? [No.] The sheaths came in small, medium, and large. It turns out, the men were all saying that they needed a Large sheath. They did not. Subsequently, the sheaths were called "Extra-large," "Immense," and "Unbelievable." They had to tape a bag to their ass to poop. That worked well for Gemini and Mercury. And by well, I mean there was still urine in the capsule and it stank of feces. Apollo needed a different solution. Alas, they still had to poop into a bag, but for peeing, they could slip on a condom attached to a valve, turn the valve and have their urine sucked into the vacuum of space. If you timed it right. Open the valve a fraction too late, and urine escaped to float around the cabin. Open it too early and the vacuum of space reached through the valve to grab your manhood. Apparently, the venting of pee into space is very pretty. It catches the sunlight and sparkles. For the spacewalks, the Apollo astronauts were back to condoms that collected the pee in a bag in the suit. Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the moon, but the first to pee there. During Apollo 13, everyone who has seen the movie knows that Fred Haise got sick. Do you know why, though? After the accident, they couldn't use the regular vent, because it needed to be heated to keep the pee from freezing. The alternate system caused droplets to float around the ship. Mission Control told them to stop dumping pee. It wasn't meant to be a permanent ban, but the crew didn't understand that. So they were stashing pee in every bag or container possible. The fastest option was to store it in the collection bags they wore in their suits. Haise kept his on for hours and hours, basically bathing in pee. He got a UTI and then a kidney infection.
Finally, a decade later, NASA decides to send women into space. NOW they have a reason to come up with how to handle peeing in space if you don't have a penis. To launch and for a spacewalk, they developed the MAG Maximum Absorbency Garment. It's a diaper. The men switched over to using those because it was more comfortable and less prone to leave pee floating around the cabin than the condom sheath. They also developed a zero-G toilet so that astronauts no longer had to tape a bag to their ass....All of which is to say that the reason women didn't go into space had nothing to do with lacking the technology to pee. We didn't have the technology for men to pee in space when they started either. And some days, the best solution is still a diaper or a bag taped to the ass.
What about periods in space? - According to women who have been there, "It's just like a period on Earth." It turns out menstrual blood moves via a wicking action. Gravity can speed that up, but is unnecessary. Also, tampons exist. Fun fact: When Sally Ride was preparing to go into space, NASA engineers asked her if 100 tampons would be the right number for a week. She said, "No. That would not be the right number." They cut it back to 50."
Congratulations! Now you know more than you probably ever wish you did about bodily functions in space. If you want to read about farting, erections, or vomiting in space, you can go look up her Twitter page yourself.
Captain Marvel vs Shazam
A brief History
Captain Marvel was created by Fawcett Comics in 1939, the year after Superman, and holds the distinction of being the first superhero character to be made into a film-- The Adventures of Captain Marvel, released in 1940. Captain Marvel was Fawcett's biggest moneymaker and in fact was the nation's most popular superhero and the highest circulated comic book. This ruffled a lot of feathers over at DC (Superman's publisher). In a desperate attempt to stop the release of the movie as well as the title, DC sued the publishers on the grounds of copyright violation citing that Captain Marvel was too similar to Superman. To make the "longest legal battle in comic book history" story short, over the course of the next twelve years DC sued Fawcett, lost, appealed, and then won their appeal. Fawcett ceased and desisted making Captain Marvel comics in 1953. Fawcett had to pay DC a large sum of money and subsequently folded. Captain Marvel remained out of print for the next fourteen years. In 1967, Marvel Comics trademarked the name Captain Marvel and started up a new series where he is a Kree alien. In the intervening time, DC had bought out the defunct Fawcett Comics and now owned both Superman and the character it had once said was a Superman infringement. DC owned the character, but not the name and that's why DC had to call their 1974 TV show Shazam!
DC's Captain Marvel: AKA Shazam!
Captain Marvel is the secret identity of teenager Billy Batson. When Billy says the magic word Shazam! he becomes an adult superhero who wears an costume that is clearly influenced by WWII soldier uniforms. The tunic top is asymmetrical with a button on the right shoulder. The sleeves have shoulder pads and are loosely fitted like a men's suit jacket. The white cape has gold military braid trim down the front and at the hem. His gold belt and bracers, yellow lightning bolt on the chest, boots complete his outfit. CC Beck who drew Captain Marvel based his look on Fred MacMurray who was the #1 box office star at the time.
By 1941, Fawcett had given Captain Marvel some friends: Mary Marvel, Billy's twin sister, and Captain Marvel Jr., Billy's friend Freddy who stayed a teenager when he transformed. Mary Marvel's look was based on Judy Garland, and Junior, believe it or not, inspired Elvis Presley's look as he was a big fan of the character and designed his later stage costumes with capes based on Junior's supersuit.
At this point, Captain Marvel has done away with the militaristic asymmetrical tunic bib, shoulder pads, and loose sleeves that he was in before. Instead, his supersuit is much more similar to Superman's unitard now, sleek and aerodynamic. He still has the white cape, but the gold braid frogs are gone, only the gold trim on the hem remains. Lastly, the lightning bolt has gotten much wider. Mary wears the girl version of the Marvel supersuit, short puff sleeves and a full skirt. Junior wears the same suit as Marvel, just in blue instead of red with a red cape instead of white.
Then it just got ridiculous. Fawcett added three boys who went by the names of Tall Billy, Fat Billy and Hill Billy. There was a rabbit called Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, and an old man called Uncle Dudley. They all wore the same suit as Captain Marvel.
Once the lawsuit was finally settled and DC owned the character, they rebooted the series calling it Shazam! with just Mary and Junior. Mary's neckline is a little lower and her skirt hem is a lot higher, but basically they are in the same costumes from 1941.
When DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, the Marvel family got a reboot. They cut out both Mary and Junior, just leaving Captain Marvel.
Later, in 2012 Geoff Johns and Gary Frank gave Captain Marvel a new family for the New 52, bringing back Mary and Freddy, and adding Darla Dudley, Pedro Pena, and Eugene Choi, Billy's adopted siblings. Finally we get more colors. Darla is in purple, Pedro is in green, and Eugene is in grey. Billy is still in blue, but with a white cape. Mary is still in red, although she's no longer Billy's twin sister. Mary still has short sleeves, Darla has no sleeves. Notice how all the lightning bolts are glowing and seem to be emanating electricity.
Shazam! on screen
This is the original 1941 film, The Adventures of Captain Marvel. The actor was Tom Tyler. There was no designer listed on its IMDB page. This first iteration of the Captain Marvel supersuit was an exact copy of the original Golden Age comic: The militaristic asymetrical tunic bib that buttoned on the right shoulder, the skinny lightning bolt logo high on the chest, and the sleeves loosely fitted with shoulder pads like a men's suit jacket of the period. The cape had the gold braided frogs down the front and the gold ribbon on the hem.
The Shazam! TV series was on between 1974-77. The
costume designer was Thalia Phillips and
the actor was Jackson Bostwick, although he was replaced in Season 2 with John Davey, after sustaining a stunt related injury. I watched this show every Saturday morning. In this version Billy was no longer a teenager (the actor Michael Gray, was 23 at the time). Billy worked for a radio station, WHIZ and was on a roving assignment with Mentor (a character loosely based on a combination of Uncle Dudley and the Wizard Shazam). Together they drove around in an RV while Billy got sent on missions by the Immortal Elders. At the end of each episode, Captain Marvel would tell us kids what we were supposed to have learned from the episode.
The Secrets of Isis was a spin-off TV Show that ran on the same network for two seasons in 1975-76. Thalia Phillips did the costumes for Isis as well Shazam. Isis appeared on Shazam during Season 1 in 1974 and then got her own show the next year. Captain Marvel appeared as a guest star on Secrets of Isis in both seasons. John Davey played Captain Marvel in three episodes. The costume is the same one that Jackson Bostwick wore.
Legends of the Superheroes, 1978.
Costume Designed by Warden Neil.
The actor was Garrett Craig. This was a very cheaply made Hanna-Barbera made for TV special.
The current iteration of Shazam! came out in 2019 with costumes designed by Leah Butler. Zachary Levi was 6'3" and 180 lbs before he started training for the role. Although he did bulk up to 215 and trained with four different gurus, not all those abs were his. The suit did augment his body shape, they all do. However, for the doubters who can't get over how Chuck became Shazam!, here's the before and after photos.
The Hollywood Reporter stated that the costume budget alone was $10 million. The suit budget was between 600,000-$700,000 just for Zachary Levi and his stunt double's 10 suits. Based on the after photo of Zachary Levi's chest, my guess is that the underlayer had extra padding on the deltoids, lats, and pecs, to make his chest bigger and wider in order to make his waist seem smaller. Here's a photo of Zachary with his stunt double, Ryan Handley. Ryan had motion capture dots on his face so the CGI department could replace his face with Zachary's. Ryan also played the faceless Superman at the end of the movie.
Here's a Screen Rant interview with the costume designer Leah Butler where she revealed all the insider information on how the suit was made, what secrets the underlayer was hiding, and all the relevant design details, which I will summarize here.
The red fabric has a Greek key pattern printed into it. It's very difficult to see from far away, but the close up photo shows the texture that the pattern creates on the surface of the fabric, as well as the design lines that are also printed onto the fabric to accentuate Shazam's musculature. The lighting bolt and gauntlets light up and can be controlled for both temperature (color) and brightness.
The cape is made from a very light weight wool and has a Greek key pattern embroidered on the hem. The knee-length cape is actually much longer than it is in both the very short golden age comics, as well as the longer butt-length capes from the New 52 comics.
The cape screws into the underlayer with gold buttons so that it stays put during all the superhero-ing. A nice detail about the buttons is that they are embossed with tigers as a nod to Mr. Tawny, a talking tiger, who was Shazam's golden age friend.
Shazam has a foster family in this movie, so here's the whole gang-- Pedro, Mary, Billy, Freddy, Eugene, and Darla--child and adult versions.
The adult actors are: DJ Cotrona as Pedro, Michelle Borth as Mary, Adam Brody as Freddy, Ross Butler as Eugene, and Meagan Good as Darla. The Marvel family costumes were designed to look just like the New 52 comics. They are made the same way as Shazam's costume with the Greek key pattern printed on the fabric, the printed on seam lines emphasizing the musculature, the light-up lightning bolts and gauntlets, the gold belts and boots. It's easier to see the printed texture of the fabrics in the next few close up photos under natural light rather than the camera lighting used in the movie stills.
Pedro, DJ Cotrona, and his stunt double, Alex Albuster.
Darla, played by Meagan Good.
Freddy Freeman played by Adam Brody.
Eugene Choi played by Ross Butler. Eugene's suit is grey, which you can clearly see in the lighting in his trailer. It looks purple in the camera lighting on set for the scene in the throne room that was deleted from the final cut.
Mary played by Michelle Borth.
Marvel's Captain Marvel
The first Captain Marvel published by Marvel Comics was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in December, 1967. This Captain Mar-Vell was an alien officer in the Kree military. He allied himself with Earth and was branded a traitor. He wore his Kree military uniform, which is a white unitard with black trunks and green accessories of gloves, mask and cowl, boots, belt, and planet symbol on his chest.
Once he became Earth's advocate, he changed his Kree military uniform for a new supersuit of red unitard with blue accessories of trunks, gloves, boots, mask, and half cowl. He had golden blonde hair and a gold star on his chest, with gold wristbands.
Later, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) was created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan in March, 1968 as an officer in the USAF, so that Mar-Vell would have a love interest. Her DNA was fused with Mar-Vell's during an explosion that gave her super powers, creating the first human-Kree hybrid. The title "Ms." was chosen in tribute to Gloria Steinem and her Ms. Magazine, to associate her with the new feminist movement, which you can read all about here in this Washington Post article. Carol got a job at the Daily Bugle with Peter Parker, and became the fashion editor. While there she fought for equal pay for equal work. She later joined the Avengers.
Her costume was similar to Captain Mar-Vell's, although much more revealing. She wore a red, long- sleeved leotard with a cowl neckline and a tummy cut out. Her trunks were black, as were her boots, gloves, and mask. She had the same golden blonde hair and star on her leotard. She had something resembling a cape, but it seems to be a scarf that trails out behind her, perhaps attached to the cowl neckline.
Later, they got rid of the tummy cut out. There's a better view of the scarf in this one.
Ms. Marvel in 2006 by Brian Reed, Paul Renaud, Ben Oliver, and Sana Takeda. She was still being written and drawn by men and was wearing even less clothes than before. She looked less like a superhero and more like a dominatrix.
In 2012, Carol Danvers assumed the name Captain Marvel in honor of the original, now deceased Mar-Vell, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by Jaime McKelvie. For the first time in her history, a woman was writing her story and making decisions on how she was going to look. Her costume was completely redesigned and was no longer the sexy, skimpy, completely impractical thing it was before. She was completely covered up just like male Captain Marvel, looking like she's ready to fight. Her boots did't even have high heels and her helmet scooped up her hair into a mohawk.
Unlike DC and their Shazam! TV series and movies, Marvel never made any Captain Marvel movies or TV shows until this year. Captain Marvel's costumes were designed by Sanja Milkovic Hays. The actress was Brie Larson. Here is a Fashionista article where you can read all about the supersuit. And here's a Popsugar interview with Hays about the rest of Brie's 1990's costumes. And here's a Vogue article on the costumes.
Brie Larson did some serious training to get in shape for this role. Here's an article about her training and her stunt doubles, Renae Moneymaker and Joanna Bennett. Because Brie kept training and learning her stunts, as the costume team would do her fittings, her body kept changing, so the suit was continually undergoing tweaking to make it fit better and be more comfortable for all the physicality and action sequences. By the end of her training, she could deadlift 225 lbs and push a jeep up a hill. This is Brie with Renae Moneymaker.
This Captain Marvel started out in her Kree Starforce military uniform, which had green trim on a black utility jumpsuit, with a star on her chest. The fabric chosen for the jumpsuit was "a mix of leather backed by four-way stretch and panels of spandex-like specialty fabric." The black panels on the Kree suit were printed with a slight teal undertone and shimmered under certain lighting conditions to match the gleaming armor parts. Her boots were actual combat boots and not high heel wedges like most other female superheroes including Leia's grey Hoth boots. The entire suit was made up of independent units to make bathroom breaks easier and faster, but still required six dressers to get Brie out of and back into the suit each time.
Her signature mohawk helmet required a lot of trial and error to design and was a team effort between Brie Larson and costume designer Hays, 3D modeller Adam Ross, Fabricator Russ Shinkle, and hair stylist Camille Friend and their respective teams. The helmet was actually two main pieces that clamshelled together around the mohawk which was a wig, and a separate chin strap. Her own hair was actually held inside the helmet with a balaclava.
My favorite part of the movie was when she redesigned her Kree uniform. Here's the clip with all the different versions that could have been. My favorite is the neon rainbow version. It reminded me of the Wonder Woman 1984 poster art which I have included for comparison below.
Here's the Americanized version of the Kree suit. This is Brie with her other stunt double Joanna Bennett. You can sorta see how the suit is made in pieces, with the top half of the suit separate from the bottom half. Her belt hides the juncture. The top half is a lycra/spandex blend in the appropriate colors that has zip front closure. Most of that gets covered by the leather breastplate that zips up the back with an overlap that hides the zipper and velcros over it. All the pieces either velcro or snap to the underlayer so that everything stays in place while she's moving.
Brie won the MTV People's Choice Award for Best Fight Scene and she brought up her stunt doubles to accept the award with her.