Spotlight: Phantom Victorian Evening Wear Ensemble

This ensemble is based on a Victorian tailsuit in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. The tailcoat features a woven poly suiting with Bemberg lining and glass button details. The waistcoat is constructed from a lustrous ribbed fabric and silk dupioni. Satin ribbon detailing adorn the lapels and ornate buttons are used in the front closure. The trousers have a high waistline and velvet tuxedo stripes. Lastly, the [faux] bow tie was made from striped cotton shirting, cut on the bias and crisply pleated.

This was a huge undertaking!  I spent about triple the hours I originally thought I would – I had to learn a lot of things along the way!  But I’m really proud of how it turned out.  Here are some photos I collected and took during the couple months I dedicated to this project!  When you click on the photos there are captions (either things I added when writing up this post, or original quotes from when they were posted on social media.)

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References / Research

A lot of these came from Operafantomet’s costume website; a very big “thank you!” to her for always having a great resource available to me!

My client wanted a version based on the U.S. with an old-school, Crawford flair of sorts.  The suit is very similar in all versions but there are a few differences.  While they use the same woven silk wool type of fabric worldwide, the details can vary.  The US versions are slightly different – the older ones had velvet ribbon detailing on the trousers and tailcoat, while the newer ones have satin.  Some versions around the world use entirely velvet in the tailcoat cuffs, but the current US versions use the suiting with velvet or satin ribbon detailing. The waistcoat on the US versions has a slightly ribbed fabric almost like that of a grosgrain ribbon.

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Authentic Pieces

I have a few authentic pieces of the Phantom’s ensemble in my collection. I have a couple pairs of trousers, some with the satin ribbon detailing and older ones with the velvet ribbon detailing.  I have two waistcoats, and one bow tie.  I do not own a tailcoat, unfortunately!  All these pieces are from the US (whether it was Broadway, Tour, or Vegas).  Here’s some photos showing closeups of detailing and fabrics.

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Materials

Materials used included polyester suiting, heavy black linen, Bemberg lining, silk dupioni, suiting for the waistcoat, anti-static lining, fusible interfacing, cotton shirting, crepe-back satin, velvet and satin ribbons, and both functional and decorative glass and plastic buttons. I also invested in a few new sewing items that helped with the construction including a seam roll, a mini ironing board for pressing small and difficult areas like sleeves, and a chalk wheel that transferred very fine line markings.

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Mockups and Fittings

I didn’t have many options for patterns since these were such specific, historical garments.  I ended up using Reconstructing History patterns, but they were very difficult to follow – as they left out steps, or had them in the wrong order, or even forgot seam allowances on certain pieces of patterns.  I had to do a ton of alterations and therefore a couple of mockups for each piece until I got them just right to my client’s measurements.  This was a lengthy process as my client did not live close enough for fittings, just like 99% of my other clients :) She was very patient with me and gave me great feedback!  Together we figured out how to get things “just right”.

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Construction

The bulk of the work!  Menswear is really a different animal from womenswear.  I had previously done a waistcoat before, but it was a very simplified one.  I had never done any sort or pants, blazer, evening wear for men, etc., so I had to learn a lot.  If something was wrong, I had to take it apart and just do it until I got it right or understood the best way to do it!  I also scoured the internet for helpful information :)

My client also wanted a good amount of pockets to hold her things when dressing up in costume.  There are welt pockets on the back of the trousers, a large welt pocket inside the tailcoat, small welt pockets on the front of the waistcoat and a regular pocket on the inside of the waistcoat.

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Detailing/Finishing

Menswear has a large amount of hand-sewing and hand-finishing which is why it can take so long.  If you’ve ever looked inside a tailored piece (whether for men or women), the seams are usually hidden and everything is very tidy.  You can’t do it all with a machine, unfortunately!

Some of the functional finishing included buttons and buttonholes on the waistcoat and the trousers (they are hidden on the trousers), buttons for suspenders on the trousers, and a buckle at the back of the waistcoat for sizing.  Some of the decorative elements included the velvet and satin ribbons, as well as the faceted glass buttons on the tailcoat (seen on the front, the back, and the cuffs.)

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Related projects!

I’ve done a few other pieces from the Phantom’s wardrobe.  Here they are below!

Phantom Cape & Wandering Child Hat

This cape was made from a small checkered suiting fabric I found that reminded me of the fabric used on the original costume's tailcoat, rather than its' cloak.  I salvaged large beaded appliqués from a vintage dress and strategically placed them on the front, shoulders, and back of the cape.  The hat was fashioned from a felt sun hat and altered into shape, and adorned with coque feathers.  It is inspired by the

This cape was made from a small checkered suiting fabric I found that reminded me of the fabric used on the original costume’s tailcoat, rather than its’ cloak. I salvaged large beaded appliqués from a vintage dress and strategically placed them on the front, shoulders, and back of the cape. The hat was fashioned from a felt sun hat and altered into shape, and adorned with coque feathers. It is inspired by the “Wandering Child” hat The Phantom wears. The waistcoat, bow tie, and trousers seen in the photo are authentic staged used pieces in my private collection.

Mandarin Robe & Hat

Don Juan Hooded Cloak

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Don Juan Hooded Cloak

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