A few weeks ago, we saw some sketches going around on Tumblr of the Gotham City Sirens looking like they were stepping off the pages of Vogue in 1955. It was the fabulous work of Egle Marcogliese, a student fashion designer in Southern California. She studies illustration and is a fan of Harley Quinn, and was more than willing to answer a few questions we had about her costume designs for Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
EM: I'm currently attending my final year at Art Center College of Design as an Illustration major. I'm preparing for my final grad show as well as side costuming projects I want to get done by the end of the year which include; a couples costume of Flynn Rider and Rapunzel from Disney's Tangled, new wigs and warmers for future CATs the musical costumes, and possibly a Star Wars costume. I'm not much of a TV watcher honestly (I have no time as it is!) but, I do like to work while listening in on Mad Men. As for cinema, I've recently started to get back into the jist of what is going on in Hollywood. I've been fairly disappointed with the constant reboots and redos of movies that utterly fail and keep my interests in documentaries or select box office hits that cater to my interests.
Funny you've asked this. I cleaned out an old cabinet just the other day and found tons of drawing from middle school of Harley Quinn all over my notebooks. It seems I've subconsciously liked this character for the entirety of my childhood and finally realized it now as a grown up. I've been cosplaying for almost five years with Harley Quinn being my first and biggest investment on getting the costume done right. I am never pleased with it and keep throwing certain bits and pieces back to the drawing board. Cosplay has become a thing I like to do quite a lot of recently, it is a way for me to escape my social identity as a serious art student and have fun for a few hours.
What was your inspiration for a retro/vintage look for Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn?
I based the collection of Gotham Noir from the Batman Animated Series. The look of the show itself is set within the Art Deco era which spans almost the first half of the 20th century. I always found it had a dark Film Noir overtone to it. The criminals roam the streets of Gotham at night while Batman, the hero and detective, saves the day. The woman are cynical and all have sexual motivations. The image these women project turns heads and are unattainable.
Characters from the series are sexy, mischievous and evil. Each individual character represents a different feminine aspect. Poison Ivy represents love and lust, Harley Quinn represents the playful and whimsical and Catwoman represents femininity and our animalistic tendencies. The "Femme Fetal" is created by translating elements and attitudes to period styles inspired by the 1940's and 1950's.
Do you read Gotham City Sirens?
I'm probably the worst fan for not having time to pick up the comics and reading them! I think I've also heard Paul Dini dropped out of the project and I sort of lost interest then. If I could find someone to lend it to me I'd gladly read it!
The show was put on by the college entitled "Fashion Runway". It was quite small and ran under an hour. I modeled the dress myself and was nervous walking into a crowd while doing my routine. I studied various vintage runway videos and tried to mimic the grace and poise these women had while presenting clothes -- quite opposite to the sass and edginess our models do today.
How did you develop the dress from concept to wearable garment?
When I initially started the project I knew this was my area of expertise. I knew that if I did this it had to be done right, with all the trimmings. Initially these projects begin with mood boards; ripping out images you like from magazines and pasting them up onto a board. After a while you start to see a trend and your personal aesthetic shows up in these collages. Mine showed dresses down to the knee either form fitting or very loose from the waist downward. The color pallete was mostly black with an accent color; everything was simplified and bold. After the aesthetics are set it is time to do weeks and weeks of research from the specific era. Mine consisted of looking at catalogs from Sears, JCPenney, etc.
After this phase sketches are drawn to create the silhouette of the dresses I wanted to potentially make. I remember posting the initial concept sketches on tumblr and receiving enormous feedback, it was well liked to say the least. I was really surprised! After this process, it was time to pick one design and begin to research fabrics that would work for the specific silhouette.
Taffeta was chosen for the Harley Quinn dress as most evening dresses of the 50's were made from this material. Swarovski crystals were also purchased for the chest brooch, which I hand crafted myself. The most interesting part of this process is communicating your design and ideas with a tailor. I did not have the time or the sewing experience to create such a difficult garment, so I had to depend on a professional. We've met quite a few times for fittings, changes, and different solutions to design problems we've come across. But overall, getting over these difficulties is what makes the project all the more worth it! Would I invest in making the other dresses in this collection? Probably. I think one was such a hassle already!