Chapter 17. – Behind the Scenes, The Unfathomable Beast from Fathoms Below

When heroine Philomena Dashwood visits Venice, the city is being attacked by a Seamonster. Here are some behind-the-scenes images from the shoot.

Philomena’s Costume

Keeping in line with our theme that she wears the least practical outfit possible, Philomena wears a beautiful wool skirt and a blouse with humongous sleeves!

A picture of Philomena’s seamonster hunting outfit.

The dress was recreated from a doll designed by Madeleine de Rauch for the “American Friendship Train”. In 1947, France organized a train full of gifts for the Americans who had given them aid and relief after the second world war. Some of the gifts on this train included dolls with clothing designed by couturiers such as Madeleine de Rauch with designs based off of Historical French clothing. You can read more at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s also possible to view the other dolls from the collection on that site!

My mother and I built this costume as a joint effort. I managed to find a vintage blouse pattern that looked just like what we needed, but when it arrived, all the pieces for the view I wanted were missing! So, we had to improvise, and build most of the shirt ourselves. I believe only the back of the shirt uses the pattern.

Building Philomena’s Blouse.

The blouse is made out of Ivory Silk, and each sleeve contains around two yards of fabric. The brown skirt is a period skirt made out of wool. It is over 100 years old, and was given to me by an Antique Dealer because the top was so tattered, moth-eaten and destroyed, that she couldn’t sell it. However, the skirt is in much better condition, and the moth holes and stains are not too visible from a distance.

Pleated Ivory Silk Blouse and Orange Silk Bow with pearl buttons.

The buttons on the blouse a pearl ringed with gold. The bow is made out of orange silk.

A close up of the cuff.

There are nearly two yards of fabric in each sleeve.

Sleeves overpower the ensemble.


A final image from the book.

Philomena’s Ballgown

Alisa of Dragonfly Designs by Alisa created this sari influenced ballgown for Philomena.

The original sketch of the ballgown by Alisa with color options.


Alisa’s sari inspired ballgown.

For me, every photo I costume is given its own jewelry them. Gold, silver, brass, pearl, etc. But seeing as how our Indian ball is based around a monster who looks like a bull who ran through a jewelry shop, with jewelry dangling from every part of its body, I wanted a fully Bejeweled theme, and when I couldn’t decide on a set of jewelry for Philomena, I decided to create a jewel stomacher for Alisa’s dress to make it pop just a little bit more!

Updated jewel stomacher.
Final image of Philomena at the ball.

The Mayor’s Costume

The costume ball started out as an entirely different entity before the book was finished. Initially meant for a chapter that took place in India, the costumes reflected that culture.

The full costume

The Mayor’s costume was inspired by the historical figure Duleep Singh, a favorite of Queen Victoria who had dreamy eyes.

The Mayor wears white silk and a jeweled turban.

The outfit is made entirely out of silk, except for the gold trim and sash which is a bamboo fabric. The pants are pleated and have a cuff at the ankle.

The outfit uses many necklaces.

The main part of the costume is a silk vest, trimmed with gold and given gold frog closures. There is also an over-shirt, which is made from sheer silk organza. You won’t be able to see that it is transparent until the model puts it on.

I also found a lovely bamboo fabric sash that I put through one of my pearl buckels. The knife or dagger came from the antique market, and I liked the way it looked.

Here you will see a bamboo fabric sash and a cute little sword I found at the Antique Store.

The turban features a sequins trim, numerous strands of pearls and a few brooches.

Dom Cianciotto as The Mayor of Venice.


Photographing the Models

Here are some outtakes from the shoot.

A booksplosion made from discarded books from the library and friends.

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