Ready or Not

For my first fourth year project I decided to adapt the 2019 horror-comedy, Ready or Not. The story follows protagonist Grace on the night of her wedding, caught in a deadly game of hide and seek with her new eccentric and wealthy family. I felt drawn to this project because of the opportunities it provides for costume and setting. Taking place over one night I felt would lend itself to a stage production, much like An Inspector Calls, as this aids in increasing the tension that the impending dawn brings. The wealthy family of the Le Domas’ also made their wealth off of a board game empire, which is an interesting avenue for design development. As this production takes place over one night, the characters all only wear one costume. However, in her attempts to flee, Grace’s wedding dress gets increasingly destroyed and dismantled, providing the ability for me to design for multiple versions of the gown. I also wished to do this project as it offers an opportunity to increase my breakdown skills, which I feel will be an important element to add to my portfolio, as well as the historical element, albeit 20th century.

While not changing the main plot of the original film, I planned on reworking it in a number of ways. The first being to change the era it is set from modern day, to 1950’s America. My reasoning behind this is because as the Le Domas family made their wealth off of board games, I wished to incorporate the designs and aesthetics of vintage board games into my character designs. Much like the board game Cluedo, the story takes place in one house, over a single night, because of this each family member has the time to become a fully realised character, with different goals and personalities.  By taking the architype of the perfect rich American family that was popularly depicted in 1950’s advertising and pairing it alongside the horror aspects of the film, I feel the juxtaposition would be compelling to an audience and fit with the comedy aspect of the story.

Another aspect I changed is the medium of the performance from film to stage. I decided to change this as I felt the story would have more impact within the closed off environment of a theatre. The claustrophobia Grace feels within the story, being unable to escape the house would be felt on a greater level within the confinements of a theatre. This would also offer the opportunity to use the aisles of the stalls as passageways and corridors of the mansion, increasing the audience’s involvement and the suspense of not knowing from where a character will appear. I similarly wished to set the stage to emulate that of a board game board. Using the set to project the rooms and house layout much like Clue board. By using projected footprints to show the whereabouts of characters, the audience can see when the Le Domas family come close to catching Grace, or when they pass unbeknownst in a corridor. To illustrate this, I created a set box.

The costumes are 1950’s evening wear. While Grace and her husband Alex wear correct wedding attire (e.g. Wedding dress and Tux), the rest of the family are not dressed as formally. This is to reflect their distain for Grace, a poor orphan who ‘stole’ their son away, but also because the wedding takes place at the house, with very few guests and is portrayed as a casual affair. The wedding itself only takes place because Grace wishes to be part of a family, something she has never had. This aspect of the story opened up a larger range of costume opportunities for the male characters, whom would historically all be wearing similar outfits.

This project is a dialogue of the class differences, and entitlement of the upper classes. Grace fights against them and wins, despite all the tools they have at their disposal. Locking her in the house and hunting her without even changing from their elegant dresses as they feel it to be an easy task. The aesthetics of pairing a sophisticated dress with an axe or crossbow I felt played into the horror-comedy of the film and illustrated the ridiculousness of what is happening.

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Marie Antoinette

For my second fourth year project I designed for a film of Marie Antoinette, based off of Marie Antoinette: The Journey, by Antonia Fraser. The book is a sympathetic look into the queen’s life and expresses Antoinette more as a person, as opposed to the villainous figure she is portrayed as in history. Though the book does cover her whole life, I felt there was too much content to fill a film run time, and so the story follows her from her birth up until the French revolution, when the audience can infer from historical knowledge, what happens to them afterwards.

This book has been adapted for film before, in the 2006 Marie Antoinette, directed by Sophia Coppola. While I do love the script and artistic style of the film, and as it is taken from a biography not many story elements will change, I wanted to add a few scenes looking at the circumstances of Marie Antoinette’s birth and her childhood.  I have also changed a few aspects of the story to be more historically accurate, as many elements were changed for the film, this includes the meeting of Marie Antoinette and Yolande, and the fate of Axel von Fersen, whom it is implied dies at war in the film.

While I intended to keep the cut and style of the garments historically accurate, in order to add my design to the narrative, the costumes will include toile de jouy fabric designs throughout the costumes, which display scenes as well as motifs and personality of the characters. Historically toile de jouy was printed on cotton or used as furnishing fabric and would be unthinkable for a queen to wear as an everyday fabric. To make this fabric more suitable for Marie Antoinette, I experimented with silk painting and embroidery, as well as using historically accurate fabrics and embellishments. Each character will have a fabric or a motif that may reflects their views, position in court, secrets or passions.

I felt drawn to this project because I wished to practice my skills at historical costuming and pattern cutting. The time period of Maire Antionette features a range of opportunities to design and make for different styles, as Antionette set the fashion for the masses. I also loved the idea of learning the history behind the changes in fashion and the impact they had on the economy and the public opinion of Marie Antionette. As many of the styles that branches out into the rest of Europe stemmed from her influence, I felt it was the best way to learn about the birth of the fashion of the time.

The audience for this film would be teenagers to adults, as there is so much content, I felt would be lost if it was marketed towards a younger audience. Much of the historical elements, as well as offhand comments made by characters would be appreciated by an audience who is more knowledgeable about the time period, but makes it so those who are experiencing the eighteenth-century won’t miss out on the story. I chose to keep the production as a film because I felt her sheer number of dresses and costume changed needed to convey Marie Antoinette’s excessive lifestyle wouldn’t be portrayed as well on stage. Also, the level of detailing that was common on eighteenth-century dresses would be lost on a theatre audience. Likewise, the extravagant setting at Versailles would be difficult to show on stage. The setting for my film would be at the real palace of Versailles in France. 

The century offers a great range of costuming opportunities, as one of the reasons for the French Revolution was that Marie Antionette spent so heavily on her wardrobe. I wanted it to be historically inspired, with accurate dress shapes and pattern cutting, but contain elements that make it more relatable to a modern audience. Taking some of the more extravagant elements of the time period, such as the pink hair Marie Antionette wears, and combining with a more fantasy elements in the clothing. The clothes themselves are already over the top and extravagant, but by emphasising this I felt would show that the period was about out doing each other through wardrobe.

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