Fashions in The Taffetas
By Costume Designer Kimberly G. Morris
As the costume designer for ???Taffetas??? I had the opportunity to delve into the charming fashions of the fifties. Skirts were big and bouncy, net petticoats lifting them out to widths not seen since the Civil War (think Gone with the Wind). Hats and gloves abounded, women in pants were pretty uncommon, and heirloom pearls were everywhere. The fifties have a look so different from today that with just a petticoat and a full skirted dress, our talented modern actors became this adorably sweet quartet.
For our singing group, I spent time looking into the relatively new ???girl group??? phenomenon. Since the Andrew Sisters, popular during World War II, more and more singing groups joined the musical scene. With the photo shoots and tapes of the old TV shows, many available on YouTube, the images of these groups are readily available and make excellent research. Here are a couple of my favorites from the time.
The Chordettes are actually mentioned in the play as one of the Taffetas favorite groups, so tracking them down to see what these girls look up to was a must. I especially love the hair and dresses of this group. They have a unity to their look while keeping a little individuality to each of them. I also really love the happy, almost charming expressions, an attitude that our performers bring out in full force.
This set of pictures is of the Maguire Sisters, a group that so closely resembles the Taffetas both in sound and story. Our performers actually found a broadcast from the 50???s that had been uploaded to YouTube. It really is amazing just how charming, silly, funny and extremely talented this group was.
Beyond the realms of the actual singing groups, I spent a lot of time in patterns of the period. Many of these are coming back popularity and can be found in your neighborhood sewing shop. The originals are all over the antique stores online and their images are priceless in helping to create the actual look for each character. The script basically gave hair color for a starting point, but the final look and shape for each girl involved lots of communication with the director and then some final adjustments and redesign once I met the cast. While this shape look awesome on everybody type, there are plenty of little things that can make it perfect for everyone. Here are a couple original patterns that I used as a base for Kaye, Cheryl and Debbie (our stagehand).
I love this time period. The clothes are bright, happy, charming and so sweet they almost give you cavities. I had a lot of fun doing the research and putting them all together. I get a kick out of transporting actors into another time. But this look could never work without the talent of the performers. They are totally willing to use my costumes to the fullest, twirls and swishing just makes it all look so perfect. I hope you have as much fun watching this show as I have had helping to bring it all together.