Friday, June 18, 2010

Lillian Alling: The Clothes

Lillian Alling costumes are designed by noted theatrical designer Sue LePage. In envisioning the show she had two tasks, reflect the 1920's and the modern era, and reflect the gritty reality of what it might look like walking across the continent.

The amazing photo above is of the real Lillian Alling. As you can see she's dressed for comfort, not fashion. In fact, she looks to be wearing a hodge-podge of men's and women's clothing chosen for their durability and comfort.

She stands in striking contrast to this lady of the same period:

Biggest fashion change of the 1920's? No more bustles or corsets! Now the fashion was lighter, brighter, shorter, thinner. Nothing would be more iconic for this time period than the "flapper".

The Flapper
"The Flapper" was actually a popular 1920 movie starring Olive Thomas. In it, a small town girl chases after a man of means by way of portraying herself as a bejewelled and well-dressed lady of fashion. It set the standard by which flappers were initially judged.

Here's a little picture of dear Olive.
She lived quite a life. Married Mary Pickford's brother.

She only made two more movies after The Flapper.

Died under very tragic circumstances.

The Explorer
Now compare her to Mary Shaffer Warren, Canadian explorer and mountaineer of the same period.

Mary was famous for many things, not the least of which was rediscovering what is now called Maligne Lake.

There is a fantastic book, called No Ordinary Woman (pictured) that you may want to read. It is a fascinating tale of her life of adventure.

So as you can see, Lillian Alling was caught between a revolution in fashion and the needs of the road. It will be very interesting to see these two styles on the stage during the opera.

For some fantastic information on 1920's dresses, try, there you can not only learn what they looked like, but how to make your own! Perhaps you can whip something up for our opening night October 16?