A Monograph Project in Costume Technology
by William Andrew Young
FIT MODEL: AMINA FAYE
"My Senegalese culture means everything to me. Growing up, I went to Senegal every summer
and these were the best times of my life. My Senegalese culture gives me perspective
and a different way to view life."
"Theater is now making space for girls that look like me, and I think that having an input in the costume makes me feel like my voice matters and that the costume is an accurate representation of myself. When you're told to put on a costume it can feel like the costume is wearing you and that the designer is only there for themself and their costume. But in this case...I feel seen and heard and that the costume is simply an extension of myself."
Amina Faye is a graduating senior in The Pennsylvania State University School of Theatre's BFA in Musical Theatre program. She is first-generation American-- all her family before her is from Senegal in West Africa.
ORIGINAL DESIGN RENDERING
This costume consists of a mermaid skirt with fin-shaped godets, a sheer corset decorated with scales, a stylized snake collar, and a hip wrap.
The design is meant to evoke the sense of a mermaid-like being with specific origins on the African continent, particularly ancient Egypt. There is no attempt to create a 'real' snake, nor disguise the fact that she is not half fish; rather, the design draws upon Senegalese fashion, nature, and silhouette to create a being that is both specific and universal, human yet divine.
I designed the costume to require the use of digital fabric creation and laser-cut elements.
This skirt features a vibrant scale pattern that I scaled and laid out digitally to be printed on cotton sateen from Spoonflower.
It is a highly fitted seven-panel skirt that gives way to training godets that begin at knee level in the front and rise as they go around the body. The godets are made of crinkle organza woven with silver metallic thread and are inset with waxed African cotton prints.
The rippling flange around the waist stands away from the body and mimics the rippling edges of the godets.
The skirt is cut such that the light blue area is closest to the hem, lengthening the model and drawing attention to the tops of the front godets.
This corset is present to provide light shaping and to hint at an illusion of nudity. The plunging front allows more of the fit model's skin to show, which was important to me in trying to honor the sculpture and traditional fashions of many African nations.
The scales are concentrated around the bust for adequate modesty, and the color gradation echoes that at the bottom of the skirt. As in the skirt, the scales get darker as we move toward the back
This collar is designed to be reminiscent of an Egyptian pectoral without specifically trying to recreate an Egyptian piece of jewelry.
The original design is a more literal snake; however, adapting the design allowed me to incorporate this print that otherwise could not have been part of the costume.
It is made of a waxed cotton fabric base overlaid with a single piece of leather that is hand-cut, tooled, dyed, and painted.