Aug 17, 2014

Costume Analysis {Christine Daae}

This post is going to be a costume analysis of Christine Daae's "Wishing Dress" from the stage versions of Phantom of the Opera. I want to do a second post sharing my favorite reproductions of this dress, becuase I've found so many amazing and helpful links! But because this post contains a huge amount of photo's already, I'll save that for another day.

First off there have been so many different productions of Phantom of the Opera (which from now on I will reference as POTO) since the Original Long Cast back in 1986. Even though each production's dress is different, they are all very similar. For the most part they're all identical except for things like trims and slight differences in material.

I came across this website which has reference pictures from all the different stage versions of POTO. I went and actually printed out almost 100 pages of reference photo's at the library via this site. I've gone through all the different version to try and pick a version I like best and reproduce that one. But beucase they were all so similar I decided on just basing it on the newer US version and taking pieces from the other versions that I liked better and add them.

My research book.

Original UK version.
When I was looking through my photos I found something interesting in this photo. Along the bottom of the skirt are seven lines going around the skirt. At first I couldn't figure out what it was, but I have a theory. I believe this photo was taken during a dress rehearsal and the skirt wasn't finished yet and I believe this may may be the underskirt.
Original UK Version.

You can see there's a bit of a difference on the detail of the vest part of the bodice between the original UK and the newer UK versions.
Newer UK version.
There's a more tassels/fringe on the German version, which I personally don't care for.
Mexico, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina.
I love the bustle on the newer US version! Isn't it gorgeous?!
Newer US Version.
Newer US version.
If you look at the center of the apron part of the dress you'll see a seam and how the fabric is angled in so the pattern creates a "V".
25th Anniversary Special

 In this one it goes straight. No seam in the center. I think this is the only version that they did that with. I think it looks better in the other versions myself.
I believe this is from the newer US version, but I'm not sure.

Australian version.
 This is a great view of the skirt without the train. To save fabric they used their lining fabric on the part of the skirt that's covered by the over skirt/apron. Definitely a good thing to know!
Not sure which production.

Here's my list of the things that are difference in the various productions and which versions I will be using as a reference.

Collar and Cuffs Details - Newer UK

Neckline - Newer US

Apron - Original UK or 25th Anniversary version.

Bustle - Newer US

Wig - Newer US, Germany, or 25th Anniversary

Now lets talk patterns. I've searched high and low for decent patterns for dresses from around the period. Here's what I found.

For the corset I'm planning on using Truly Victorian 1880's Corset. For the petticoat I'll be using either Truly Victorian's 1870's Petticoat, or their Victorian Petticoat. I'm still undecided. And I still haven't figured out what I'm going to use for the bustle, but I'll probably keep it simple and just use a bustle pillow pad. I'll figure that out once I made the mock up.

For the bodice I decided to go with Truly Victorian's Ladies 1880's Dinner Bodice, which I purchased on Ebay since I couldn't find it on the Truly Victorian website. It'll need a bit of modification on the front, but it's the closest pattern I've found.

I still haven't found anything for the skirt. If I have to I'll draft my own pattern. And for the over skirt/apron I think I'm just going to draft it myself.

And the bustle. I've heard the style of bustle/train called a waterfall bustle, but I haven't been able to find any patterns or tutorials on how to make it. If anyone knows of anything even remotely similar, I would love to hear from you!

Shoes. I would love to purchase American Duchess's Tavistock boots. I've wanted a pair of these since she first announced she was working on them! But I doubt I'll be able to afford them so I'm going to be keeping an eye out in stores and places like Ebay for something suitable.

The hair. Oh gosh. To get a wig that long is going to be hard! I haven't done much shopping around yet, so I can't say what I'm going to do yet.


  1. What a clever theory about that striped skirt actually being the petticoat during a dress rehearsal! It does make sense, and while it's hard to tell for sure, I didn't notice the floral striped design on the skirt---which implies it's a different fabric. Very interesting.

    Oh, about the stripes on the apron---as far as I know, all of the American versions use the vertical striping, while the rest use the V-shaped chevron effect. (Except, of course, for the rare dresses that use an alternate fabric. There have been three, I believe, that don't use the traditional floral-striped silk, and therefore don't have stripes on their front aprons.) I can share pictures, if you'd like to see more examples of the straight apron.

    For my Wishing dress, I used Truly Victorian's wire bustle, which worked beautifully and was comfortable to sit in. (I wore my Wishing dress to the show, so I had to be able to sit for nearly 3 hours in it! The wire hoops collapse when you sit, so you don't have to worry about a thing.) I also used the 1881 dinner bodice (if you're still looking for it, it's listed under "Natural Form" patterns on the Truly Victorian website). The only problem I had was that the bodice tail isn't meant to fit over a bustle, so the fabric bunches up in the back. A minor issue, really, but it could be fixed if you wanted to add pleats or vents to the bodice tail.

    As for the waterfall train, I used the tutorial provided by mdb (Michaela de Bruce), but I'm not sure it's still online. My link no longer works, so she must have removed it. I had a lot of trouble getting it to fold right---I kept ending up with extra fabric at the top! But, I recently made a doll-sized version of Christine's Elissa skirt ("Think of Me") which has a waterfall train. I managed to do a decent job with it, and I took pictures along the way. If you're interested, I'd be happy to share them with you! One tip is to make the waterfall train out of paper first. Once you get it folded just right, trace the fold-lines and size it up as your pattern.

    For shoes, look on Amazon for Pleaser's "Funtasma" 120 or 115 boots. I have the 115's in both black and brown. They are fairly cheap and definitely look the part. I did have to add gel insoles to mine, because they have very little padding inside, but now I love them!

    If you want to read my sewing diary for the Wishing dress, you can visit my website, It's listed under the "Sewing Diaries" menu. Feel free to contact me if you'd like help with your costume! I hope to see more about your replica soon.

    1. Okay, first off, thank you for the information! It's extremely helpful! I think I'll probably end up going with the shoes you suggested. I've been doing a lot of research on the waterfall drape for the bustle, and my neighbor helped me figure out the shape of it. I still have to play around with it a bit before I know exactly how to drape it.

      I actually have already seen your blog and have read your posts about the making of your Wishing Dress. You're actually the reason I decided to make this dress. After seeing yours and reading about it I knew I had to make it.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I'll definitely contact you if I have any questions! Thanks so much!

    2. For the waterfall train, fold the outer edges inward, then fold it back outward, one section at a time. It's almost like pleating a paper fan, back and forth. Start at the bottom and work your way up. The top should be completely flat when you're done---all the layers should align evenly at the top edge. If you end up with too much fabric at the top, it means your lower pleats are at the wrong angle. Even a slight mistake will cause problems, since each subsequent fold will be even further off.

      It can take a lot of work to get the pleats angled just right, so once you've got them down, tack them in place! Use heavy thread and hand sew through all the layers (except the top one, unless you can hide the stitches with trim). Make these tacks very secure, otherwise you risk your waterfall coming undone if it catches on anything or if it's windy. That's what happened to mine the first time I wore it---I got caught in a torrential downpour in St. Louis, and by the time I made it into the theater, the wind had torn the stitching loose and my train was ruined!

      Have fun with your costume. :-)

  2. Thank you both for explaining the waterfall, I have been searching and searching and for some reason I can’t find directions anywhere! Lisha, I am about to check out your sight as well!