Concept based on ‘The Ghosts of Versaille’ Opera – Set in the 18th Century

◊ Designer, Draper and Finisher – Robyn Murphy
◊ Draping and Finishing Tutor – Annette Ribbons
Basic Details – 1788 styled design. The corset, panier, petticoat and robe have all been draped from original patterns. Each fabric layer has been hand dyed and finished to be given the particular colour and look. The wig has been hand styled and the head piece was constructed into the wig.
(Read below for complete construction details)
Makeup by Samara Gildea
Photography by Ashleigh Kennedy

Details of Construction

Approximately a three month project for draping class with Annette Ribbons at National Institute of Dramatic Arts 2012. The criteria of the project was to make a operatic ghost to be part of the Opera ‘Ghosts of Versaille’. Each layer of the garment has been hand crafted from my own patterns based of historical reference. Each layer includes an 18thC Corset, 18thC panier, petticoat with front skirt feature, and a outer robe with sack back.


Front skirt features four layers of fabric, first being a grey moire which was ombre dyed green then ombre dyed again in blue. The next layer is a mesh dance net which was dyed green (was originally a vibrant neon orange) then finalised with a layer of tulle that was also ombre dyed. Then on top of the grey ombre, trim is stitched in gathers at the bottom, with each piece foiled in oil slick tinted foil.


The outer robe consists of three layers, starting with a cream damask that was dyed a light turquise/blue, then a shot upholstry organza was backed onto each piece of the robe. The sack back has a piece of upholstery lace inserted into the centre back to complete the robe. Pieces of sequined fabric are hand sewn into sections of the robe building up at the top of the shoulders to emphasis the pearl/sea wash growth. Then with the robe sewn together it was ombre dyed as one piece. (it was very heavy…) After the ombreing of the robe, 3 large pieces of tulle were also ombre dyed to then be stitched on top of the robe to knock back the vibrancy of the colours.


Sleeves were constucted in the same layering of robe. Flounces were custom dyed and were airbrushed to add more depth. The entire robe itself was then airbrushed in sections to exagerate lines.


The trims on the inner edge of the robe were hand dyed to tint them a shade of blue. Then gold trim was sewn in a zig-zag before being attached to the robe. The main trim on the dress is a shot poly lining that has had foiled on patterns all along the middle. It is then gathered with a gathering foot then stitched onto the robe, sequins were then glued on after the ombre dyeing of the robe to add more ‘sparkle’.


The ‘seawash/barnacle’ piece was influenced by Gozer the Gozerian from Ghostbusters. The piece started with a water based clay moulds of the spherical shapes, it was then vacuformed in the props department with much appreciated assistence by Tom Taylor. They were then  then sprayed inside with a ‘pearlescent’ spray. Then coated with glitter paint from the inside, from there pearlescent sequins were glued of the inside then on the outside mother-of-pearl sequins and ink sequins were attached. Each piece was then hand stitched onto the garment. They were also stitched onto a neck piece which was made of tulle and the sequinned fabric from the robe.


The stomacher design is based of a real stomacher from the 18th C. It is built from visoflexed pieces that are then highlighted with embroidered edges to craft out the main shapes. It was then hand beaded and sequined.


The wig was created with two wigs. A second wig was wefted to thicken the back of the wig.  It was then styled and glued into place. The Ghost ship was made from a mix of lightweight materials, using shapewell and kebab sticks with a bit of trim. Magic~

Progress Pictures

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