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Celia Bowen: The Night Circus

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des RĂªves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.

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The Night Circus,” by Erin Morgenstern, is perhaps one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. While I’m usually one for none stop excitement and action, this book grabbed me in a completely different way by fully immersing me in a world that, for lack of a better term, was like a dream from beginning to end. I fell deeply in love with each and every character in a different way and could see each detail of every scene with such vividness that it was hard to put the book down…both times. For that very reason I chose to create something I’ve never done before. Continue reading Celia Bowen: The Night Circus

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Mirror Mirror’s Snow White: Costume Breakdown

Mirror Mirror is an whimsical adaptation of the fairy tale, Snow White. The film that was released in 2012 and featured cheesy acting, humor, fresh takes on an old story, and a wardrobe that screamed fun and fantasy. The costumes throughout the film were outrageous, filled with bold, bright colors, unusual shapes, and exaggerated embellishments that, to me, made them the focal point of the movie. 

As a person who relies strongly on visual stimuli, costumes and makeup are a big part of my movie-going experience. Naturally, when I discovered the designs in Mirror Mirror I was intrigued. And not only that, but Eiko Ishioka is by far one of my favorite costume designers in cinema. Her originality and her fearlessness drove her to create some of the most memorable costumes to date, in my opinion. She has proven to be versatile in her designs from her hauntingly beautiful red armor seen on Count Dracula in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” to the inspired, demonic and yet pure creations seen in the mind of a twisted serial killer in “The Cell.” Two of my all time favorite movies for very similar reasons. The costumes were like chocolate for my soul and the taste lingered long after I saw them. 

When it came to “Mirror Mirror,” at first I was hesitant since it was the second film adaptation coming out around the same month. When I finally watched it, however, I was consumed by the beauty and, like so many other times, was taken away by the costume work. It wasn’t until 2016 that I decided to challenge myself and make something I wouldn’t have dreamed of creating just one year ago. 

I’m not someone who makes many princess gowns, nor have I been known to favor pastels, floral patterns, or the color pink, but upon revisiting “Mirror Mirror” I decided to push myself toward something different. I chose Snow White’s floral dress for a few reasons. It was my favorite in the film. I loved the colors, the innocence, and the business of it and because of the detail I decided it would be a good starter without being too difficult or costly for my budgeted lifestyle. 

At the local fabric store I found a beautiful, heavy, yellow material with faint flower patterns on it that I decided to use as a base for the skirt. I wanted it to hang nicely and have an underlying texture as well. Four yards later I had my skirt. Now, in the show the skirt looked to be both printed and embroidered with the floral pattern and a few faint, metallic details, but again I had a tight budget so I decided to utilize something I was more comfortable with and that was painting. 

I chose to paint the entirety of the skirt using skills I used to practice as a kid. It was time consuming, but saved me a couple hundred bucks! But of course it was an adventure in itself. Imagine painting all these perfect flowers and then being a dumbass and knocking the painty waster all over the skirt. You don’t even know how hard I raged, though thankfully I managed to wash out the stains before they dried.

Once that was done painting I bought myself a bouquet of fake flowers…and tore it apart. Hand sewing petals and leaves on various spots gave the gown a 3D effect, which is one thing I loved about the original costume. When it came to the top, I did something else I rarely practice and that was this particular style bodice or corset. The design is roughly from the lat 18th century when women needed more mobility for activities such as horseback riding. Slits were created at the waistline of women’s corsets and even men’s tops, to allow more range of motion. I liked the inspiration and was excited to apply some of these design qualities, including the flat-chested design that this piece was meant to acquire. Also a characteristic of 18th century women’s fashion is the flattening of the breasts. The top lacked contour or style lines, which I was excited to utilize since these days women are accustomed to trying to accentuate their boobs! (One reason I am ok with having an extremely average cup size is that I can push them up and just as easily push them down :P) 

With a thick lining and a top layer of salmon pink, matte satin (wrong side up), I was well on my way to a tiny, 18th century bodice. Because the space was smaller and the design even more 3D on the original, I got myself some mismatched appliques including butterflies, flowers, and birds to decorate the front of the bodice. Now on to my favorite part. THOSE SLEEVES! The sleeves are made of triple-layered organza in a muted green tone. Around the bicep are two layers of pleated material, which I was very proud of once I finished it. It gave that extra touch of princessy innocence that, in the end, pulled everything together. I tried it on for the first time during my snowy photoshoot with CourteX Studios (where I froze my ass off) and, despite the crinoline being bought and not made exactly how I wanted it, I felt like I needed to prance and sing all day! It was a fun project that pushed me to do some things I typically don’t like to do and to me it was a homage to one of my favorite costume designers. Now, it’s nowhere NEAR as perfect as the film’s, but it was fun and fulfilling all the same <3

RIP, Eiko!  Your costumes will always be an inspiration to me.