Costume Design & Construction
Berlin Cabaret Sleaze
5 Design, 10 Construction Credits
What you will need:
- Mostly nylon bra and panties to fit performer
- Old lace tights or nylons, any size
- 6 yards of 3/4″ elastic in white.
- Paintable or dyeable heeled shoes
- Either a nylon nightgown/negligee with a sheer overlay OR a beaded/sequined chiffon dress with lining, OR 3-4 yards of translucent nylon lace.
- 3 garish colors of dye (Rit or Dylon are OK) that clash well together.
- Any extra bits of beading, feathers, fringe, tacky jewelry, etc that is handy.
- A close fitting hat or headband.
- If at all possible, a garter belt.
- Flesh colored tights or unitard if performer is modest.
- Sewing Machine and dyepot.
The whores in The Threepenny Opera at UAF were all done similarly to the Kit Cat Girls I did for Cabaret, a few years earlier, but taken a step or so further. While the Kit Kat Girls wore sleeveless flesh toned unitards under their tatty lingerie, most of the actresses in 3PO opted out of this extra security. However even with full unitards from the torso down, the smoke and mirrors that this style provides made the Kit Kat’s shown here:
look spectacularly naughty. Because the eye looks through the lace, and sees visible underwear, we tend to assume anything flesh colored next to that underwear is, in fact flesh. So an actress in a see through wedding dress like this
What you ARE seeing is a flesh toned bra with nipple colored dots sewn to the cups. The reason it is believable is the fringe at the center and sides hide the hardware of the bra, and the “breasts” take on a vague quality by being seen through the floaty fabric. This allows a performer to shock while being comfortably supported, and technically, not naked. Here is the dress seen above made from a translucent nightgown.
or if you can’t find a beaded gown cheap at a local thrift shop, you can build a variety of very simple sheath dresses like these below out of cheap lace. The patterns of many of of these are very simple, and shown in the little diagrams below each image.
What To Do:
If you have a beaded dress, cut away the lining, so the dress is translucent.If you have a negligee with a sheer overlay, cut away everything but the overlay and what is holding it together.If you have nylon lace, cut off a length of the lace equivalent to the width of the fabric, (to make a big square).
Cut the lace hose or nylons off of the panties. With a Zig Zag stitch, sew elastic to the tops (while pulling gently on the elastic) to make self-garters.
Take the rest of the elastic, cut it in half and put both pieces with the dress/negligee/large piece of lace. Dye these the “main” color and paint the shoes to match. Dye the smaller lace square, and bra and panties with the second color, and the stockings (and hopefully garter belt) the third. If you have a feather boa, trim or hat feathers you can also tone them to match by sticking them in one of the dye mixes as well.
If you have lace to make a dress,cut the main body of lace into a pullover sheath like this,and quarter the smaller square into 4 squares like this,
then insert the squares into the dress body like this, making the dress as long or short as your taste demands.
Use any excess lace bits, trim or feathers to decorate the hat or headband.
To dress the performer, have her/him put on the flesh tone tights/body suit if desired, then put on the bra, panties, stockings (and optional garter belt) over this. Chris-cross the two elastic pieces under the foot and up the leg to tie under the knee, over the stockings.Put on the matching shoes.Put on the translucent dress, hat, and any other accessories you may have. Look Makeup Renderings for makeup ideas.
When you are finished, photograph the ensemble as jpeg files and post them to your File folder at the class eGroup.Post a message to the group letting everyone know you have posted your pictures so you can get feedback.