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From Page to Stage

by Jessica Jackson 2 years ago in designers
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The process is the journey. The creation is the discovery.

Fiskars makes glamor possible.

It begins as most endeavors do: a vision. A whirlwind of textures and colors are birthed into glittering existence, transitioning from mind to pencil to scissors to stitch to form. My pen meets with paper to etch a meager translation, beginning as a gardener plants seeds when the frosts have given way. The vision is at times blinding and all-consuming, teetering on the edge of obsession. Every step is a thrilling expedition, from the initial pencil stroke to the first moment of wearability, where every stitch, slice, and fold comes to life under the lights.

The design is a blueprint for a wearable story told through textile, form, and color. Every choice is intentional, every detail carefully selected to enhance the vision. For years, I have peered out from the haze of this beautiful madness to create art which brings joy to myself and others. The more complex the vision, the more desirable the challenge. I pull inspiration from all corners of the world: from nature; the ever-changing skies and weather; from the human experience; and sometimes from what lies beyond dreams.

Sourcing my palette is an experience that often takes months: the perfect velvet, the correct luminosity of silk, the appropriately exquisite embellishments, sequins that dazzle in an array of light, and beyond. Every creation must have its own personality, its own sphere within the universe. The process is the journey and the creation is the discovery.

I have used fabric and embellishments to convey my dreams since I was very young. When I look at a finished garment, I see both the product and the blueprint. I understand the construction intuitively, and I know how to replicate it. No one taught me this skill, I learned it by simply engaging with the world, and from there developed a complex relationship with fashion and costume. Many people would pursue it as a career, but for me it is a passion and an escape from reality, much like video games and film are for others. I have no degree in the industry or formal training, only a drive to create something fantastic.

Inspiration comes from everywhere, but I am greatly influenced by elements of historical fashion from the Victorian and Renaissance eras. The shapes and forms marry well with fantastical and fictional themes. Many of my works fit within the “fantasy” category, and yet the elegance and eccentricity extends beyond sub-labels or time periods. Modern fashion escapes me. Minimalism bores me. I long for gowns comprised of a hundred yards of silk, sparkling with thousands of rhinestones, twisting in the early autumn breeze as the leaves cascade around. I long for perfect fantasy.

The sketch is almost always rudimentary compared to the vision, but then again, I am not a sketch artist. It is a placeholder, a mere glimpse into a fragment of the project. From there, the materials must be sourced, and that is where my vision truly begins to take form. Sometimes, the elements for one project come from all corners of the world. I once created a gown with materials purchased from eight different countries. The advent of the internet has multiplied my sourcing opportunities and provided an endless, ever-growing network of inspiration.

Interactivity is key to the success of a finished design. My brand of costuming is often tailored to its environment. I think about lighting, space, air flow, the color and shape of surroundings, and the audience. As a performer, the costume is an extension of myself and the character I choose to play. Oftentimes, my creations are designed explicitly for stage, photos, or film. The decisions I make as a designer are influenced by all of this and more.

The performance is part of the vision. I must consider the movement or degree of elegance I am hoping to portray. Voluminous gowns with hoops and yards of fabric contribute to my way of storytelling and can imbue my audience with a sense of romance, sweeping them away into the fairytale I seek to create. Curve-hugging leather and lace with flashes of silver studs can plunge an observer into a world of gothic fantasy.

Costume design for me exceeds mere visual perception. It is an immersive experience from concept to creation to execution. As a sculptor uses his/her hands to free masterpieces from clay, I use my scissors to unleash my dreams of fairytale enchantment. I love every moment of the journey, and even though it can be frenzied and challenging, it is always rewarding when I metamorphose and take my audience on a shimmering journey of color, form, and song.


About the author

Jessica Jackson

Armed with her BA in English Literature and passion for gothic romance, Jessica Jackson is making her debut in the world of fiction. She is also an award-winning costume artist, lyricist, vocalist, and lover of all things dark and spooky.

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