Holly Prescott is a final year performance Costume student at ECA. These are her lavish interpretations of Grimm's fairytale, 'The Golden Bird'.
"Bursting with rich imagery The Golden Bird is one of the lesser known fairytales from the Grimm’s vast repertoire. Having not been adapted into a screenplay previously, free and personal interpretation of the characters and settings could take place. This research began with the exploration of other Grimm’s fairytales including illustrations by artists working in the early 1900’s such as Harry Clarke and Kay Nielson. The intricacy of pattern within these scenes, which still held an eerie quality often associated with the Grimm’s style of writing, influenced my thoughts and I decided to start exploring the elongated silhouettes and styles of dress similar to those depicted in the artwork using this era of the early 20th century as a starting point for visual referencing.
As the process continued further links between the traditional fairytale and this era emerged, such as the lack of scripted dialogue between characters within the story strongly coinciding with the popularity of silent film in the early part of the 20th century. Interested in the ways that a story can be understood without the use of vocabulary suggested to me that I should attempt to set an adaptation combining strong influences from the early 1920s with contemporary fashion influences. The issue of prohibition and the yearning for luxury in this period highlighted further links to the original fairytale and provided the basis for an adaptation for contemporary film.
I continued research into the opulent and extravagant society of the 1920’s, given the nickname ‘The Golden Era of Hollywood’, and expanded on this lavish aesthetic, exploring the silhouettes of film portraiture and haute couture and relating textile techniques,including embellishment and bias cutting, back to this era juxtaposed with contemporary techniques for a modern retelling. I aimed to create a response to these silent films that included subtle shapes that spoke for themselves, taking inspiration from iconic ‘national treasures’ such as film stars including Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson.
Around 70% of all silent films ever produced have now been either lost or destroyed. I found this fact distressing, wondering how the foundations of modern cinema could have fallen into such disregard. With this in mind, I aim to pay homage to these cinematic treasures by creating costumes for the three gilded treasures that reflect elegance and delicacy with a touch of precious deterioration as a reference to both the decay of the silent film industry and the rotten society at the time which is similarly described in the fairytale." Holly Prescott