Elanthian Vogue: Koaratos 5120
This Month's Edition
Editor-in-Chief: Rohese Bayvel-Timsh'l
Summer is here and with it comes FashionFest 5120, a two-day celebration of style, originality, and presentation.
Launched 5 years ago as Elanthian Fashion Week, this established annual event is sponsored by Elanthian Elegance and continues to be a collaboration with other Great Houses and Meeting Hall Organizations. Each year, the festival focuses on a theme and this year is no exception. As it is also the 25th anniversary of Bardfest, it seemed appropriate to embrace theatre in all its dramatic glory.
Starting on Feastday, the 11th day of Koaratos, with a breakfast reception, lovers of song and stage are invited to participate in a weekend of informal workshops, discussion groups, and social gatherings in the run up to Bardfest, all culminating on Restday evening with a runway show where everyone will get the chance to demonstrate their creativity and dramatic flair on the catwalk.
Think drama. Think spectacle. Think performance!
This packed edition of Elanthian Vogue takes a peek behind the scenes of both FashionFest and Bardfest. We hear directly from one of the organisers of the long-running annual festival of performing arts as well delving into aspects of costume and masquerade.
We are also taking the opportunity to revive a much-loved piece of Elanthian history by retelling the story of the Magical Mayhem Troupe. We would love to hear from you if you wish to share any memories from that event.
As always, don't forget to send us your comments on any of the articles in this month's publication or suggestions for future editions!
Telling a Story and Creating a Character by Vincien Chase.
"Clothes make a statement. Costume tells a story."
Costumes are such a fabulous part of theatre – they help to tell the story, they help actors get into character, and they immediately tell the audience something about what’s going on
As complementary theatrical elements, they have a variety of functions. They deal with the personification of characters on stage and play an important role in the actualization of the story or portrayal. A costume designer must know "who" the character "is" before they can create the ensemble of clothes and accessories for them. And, more importantly, the audience must believe that that characters have a life before the storytelling begins. Think of them as the non-verbal elements of a performance. If well depicted by the costumier, they communicate hidden messages to the audience.
The shapes, colors, and textures that a costume designer chooses make an immediate and powerful visual statement. Costumes can be derived from every day clothing or can be symbolic; they are the most personal aspect of the visual elements in theatre. To members of the audience, a performer and his or her costume is perceived as one, they merge into a single image on stage. At the same time, costumes have value of their own by adding that color, shape, texture and symbols to the overall effects created on stage.
Accessories such as masks, walking sticks, head gear, hairstyles, make up and jewelry are important components of costumes. Costumes can be used to aid the character's actions on stage, thereby portraying the character's traits required of the actor. They can be used to describe age, the period of the play, depict moods, distinguish occupations and include cultural markers. They can even relate time and weather of a play. Costumes enable the audience to identify the character through appearance and convey meaning; such as in portrayals of history, fables, and myths. Costumes have the added function of providing spectacles on stage.
Costumes are not necessarily limited to the theatre. The choices we make each day provide an opportunity for creative expression. Clothing establishes individuality and provides clues to our own cultural identity. Uniforms such as a priest's vestments or a forger's apron allow us to instantly identify a person's profession or trade. An arisaid, saephua and atanika, for example, are emblems of specific race and cultural origins. The military and chivalric orders have "uniforms" defined by color and insignia. Within such organizations, rankings are extremely important and are indicated by braided knots, medals, spurs, and other regalia. These uniforms vary between nations and among the different service branches. More loosely, a uniform can simply mean a distinctive personal style that is recognized by others. A set of robes could be the uniform of a scholar, whilst a gown and fan can be the accepted uniform of a particular social group.
Costumes needn't be complicated or elaborate to serve their purpose, their design simply needs to meet three functional requirements: to accent, to reflect, and to reveal. To accentuate who the character is, reflect on the traits of that character and make them believable, and reveal the part or role they are trying to portray in the story.
- Join Vincien at his FashionFest lecture on the "Art of Costuming" on Feastday, the 11th day of Koaratos, to see a visual display of costuming.
From time-to-time we like to share a piece of Elanthian history and this month it only seems fitting that we feature the consummate performer, Dame Cirri Strut, and her Magical Mayhem Troupe.
The Troupe performed several marionette-based plays at the Ebon Gate festival in the village of Velathae back in 5108. Their arrival was heralded by the appearance of mystical masks and marionettes in treasure boxes that relayed the origins of the troupe.
"Dame Cirri Strut’s magical Mayhem Troupe! An extraordinary performance group! Splendidly famous, it is world renowned. With magic and wonders that can confound!"
It had been more than two centuries since the legendary family of Strut left the village of Velathae, their departure happening days before the ill-fated night that shrouded that small town in mystery, and they returned to their humble beginnings to pay homage to their ancestral home. They only stopped for three nights to bring their special brand of talents, mystery, wonder, and fun to those that travelled to the phantom village for the Ebon Gate festivities.
"The Mayhem Troupe performs daily with flair! With jugglers, masks, songs, and magic to spare! 'Ware the Dame or you’ll only know despair! In crimson, she'll paint you without even a care!"
Named after the youngest child of the original Mayhem Troupe, Dame Cirri was believed to be an honorary title that had been passed on through the generations from Strut family member to family member. To maintain the mantle of mystery, the Mayhem Troupe never allowed its members outside of their wagon without their traditional costume of mask and robe. At its inception, some two hundred years ago in Velathae, the troupe consisted of nine family members that all traveled together in their theatrical wagon throughout the human empire.
Rumors said that the Troupe traveled through Talador on their way to Icemule Trace and once they were within the cradle of those ancient woods their performance changed forever. More deeply cloaked in mystery, the troupe only ever allowed one of its members to be seen at a time and all under the guise of Dame Cirri Strut. The brilliant stroke of theatrical secrecy had forever changed the face of the Mayhem Troupe and drew crowds of legendary proportion.
"Dame Cirri Strut, the magician with flair! Her talents are beyond extraordinaire! Marionettes that are life-like and real - Will enchant you with their theatric zeal!"
Coupled with the mystical masks that the troupe magically sent out to all corners of the globe to advertise their arrival, the Mayhem Troupe was an act like no other and a true wonder to behold.
- It is possible to see one of these legendary masks on display at the FashionFest lecture entitled, "Behind the Mask," on Restday, the 12th day of Koaratos. Should there happen to be a bard present, it might also be possible to learn of its loresong first hand.
Show and Tell
An adaptation of a talk delivered by Lorekeepers Corlyne Lancre and Rohese Bayvel-Timshl at Silverwood Manor.
"A picture paints a thousand words."
When it comes to costuming and characterization for performance, it's more effective to "show" rather than "tell". Consider the character's outward appearance and how you can tell a story through the color and fabric of the costume. Some colors and fabrics can be readily associated with particular races, cultures, professions, and social standing and thereby provide the audience with an immediate insight into a character’s identity.
Chainsil, for example, is a fine linen common amongst Sylvankind. Bourde, a striped silk, is frequently worn by the Faendryl as formalwear. Cameline is thick wool woven and traditionally worn by Halflings. Dwarves even have their own cloth called cordetum, the rough fabric aiding them in everyday mining and forging.
The Dwarven Forger He is wearing a tiny pickaxe beard clip, a leather crafter’s apron over a wide-necked cordetum tunic with brown leather laces, some brown suede breeches, some thick cordovan leather legwraps. All the items displayed are available from the Stormbrow Gift Shop in Kharam Dzu and the local forging supply shop.
Don layers of oilcloth and leather with fishnet accessories and you could be a sailor. Dress yourself in flannel, burlap and gingham with the right tools in hand and you are instantly tilling the fields as a turnip farmer. You can drape yourself in velvets and silks and assumed to be spending life in the Elven courts. You could easily portray an assassin in dark, muted colors and brandishing a blade or a cat-loving priestess when bedecked in fur robes and prayer beads with a prayer book raised aloft in evangelical fashion.
Then we come to adopting a style to expand on the background. Does the character you wish to portray live with the bare necessities or do they prefer extravagances. A hermit or forest walker is likely to wear plain clothes that are well-worn or tattered, whilst a wealthy nobleman might wear several weighty neckchains, rings on both hands and carry a cane.
An Elven Nobleman He is holding a a spiral-cut ebonwood cane capped with a smoky glimaerstone in his left hand. He is wearing a dashing dark silk hat banded with plum velvet, a shoulder-pinned plum velvet court cape lined in white silk, a pale plum satin ascot, a white silk shirt with tiny rose-gold cufflinks, some plum velvet knee-breeches, and a pair of dark suede boots. All items available from A Twist of Roses in Ta'Illistim and the adornments table in your local gemshop.
What a character wears or does not wear helps to paint the picture at a glance. For example, a warrior knight might wear the full regalia of armors and spurs for public display, but a paid-for-hire bodyguard might be more subtle in concealing a blade up his or her sleeve. An Oleani priestess may show off the flowery symbols of her deity, but a Luukos-worshipper may be hesitant to openly indicate as much.
When it comes to performance, costume is key to your characterization of a role.
On the Spot
We often like to put someone "on the spot" to gain an insight into their lifestyle choices. This month, it seems appropriate to put the spotlight on Seomanthe Bartley-Olberath as the long-time organiser of Bardfest. We were delighted to catch up with her recently amid all the preparations for the upcoming festivities and she agreed to sit down and have a quick chat with our Editor.
You see Seomanthe Bartley the Defender of Wehnimer's Landing. She appears to be a Human from Bourth. She is tall and has a delicately lithe build. She appears to be in the meridian of life. She has rich, pensive green-gold eyes and pallid, densely freckled ivory skin. She has short, copper-sheened sable hair razor-cut in layers brushing her jawline, with long bangs swept over her left eye. She has a tattoo of a fan of brilliant white hawk feathers behind her right ear. She is in good shape. She is wearing a plaited gold bridal necklace, a shimmering rainbow pelisse, a pure silver Aspis pin, a bleached sandalwood ayr inlaid with thin strips of ivory slung over her shoulder, a deep plum pinstriped grey waistcoat over some opalescent black myklian scalemail, a black-washed simple faewood wristcuff, some lace-palmed black half-gloves, a dual-scabbard elegant grey swordbelt, a hip-slung ashen leather kit, a simple black velvet lapidary pouch, some slim sable suede knee-breeches side-laced in rainbow silk, and a pair of tawny glaes-toed boots with riveted bronze bindings.
Seomanthe seemed somewhat surprised by my invitation but agreed to meet me outside the Wayside Inn. At her suggestion, we headed to House Aspis but our progress was hampered somewhat by her stopping numerous times to get into quick conversations with passers-by. At length we finally arrived and she kindly escorted me on a brief tour of the House and amphitheatre before we settled down in the trophy room.
It took a little time to become accustomed to her lilting drawl but our conversation soon got underway as I asked her to tell me a little about herself.
"Well, ent sure what about me to start with. I tromped out of Krestle - that's in Bourth, yanno - when the old empress took the throne. Whuff, that's a while ago now, ent it? Anyway, I didn't think too much of her, so I left, which is probably the, you could say, the through line of my life ... 'I didn't like wozzer, so I left.'”
We paused at this point as she offered me some tea before pouring herself a glass of fine old brandy.
"At Aspis mostly I'm the chief cat-herder and paper-pusher. I help our Sibs do their events and whatnot, and I been wrangling Bardfest since umm... I wanna say 5116. I still like it here though, so I guess I ent gonna leave quite yet."
I was swept up by both her enthusiasm and bubbly personality. Clearly such an outgoing person must be a performer in her own right? This notion seemed to amuse her.
"You saw earlier on our walk, my husband'd always say he couldn't walk half a block with me without someone stoppin' us for a hello-how-are-ya, so I spose you could say my talent as a performer is performin' the art of nattering."
Setting down her glass, she pulled her ivory-inlaid ayr off her shoulder to let her long fingers meander over the ten strings.
"Outside of that... Well, I ent really much of a lyricist, though I got a great memory for the really famous yarns, and I got my ayr which I can do a pretty good turn on."
She concluded her thought with a jaunty arpeggio on the Tehiri-style lute. Our conversation then turned to Bardfest and I almost spilled my tea as she became even more animated and clapped loudly.
"Bardfest! The biggest arts celebration in western Elanith! It started way before my time so I canna really put down a lot of the beginnings, but I like to think if it hung around long enough to fall into hands the likes of mine, it must have been pretty good. Lately though we kinda noticed it was getting a bit dodgy with getting folks signed up early enough, AND we'd also had some other Houses and Halls approach us coupla times with requests about doing performing arts stuff."
She took another quick sip of her brandy at this point. I seized the opportunity to drink some more tea so as to avoid any future potential incidents.
"So even though it weren't exactly an EASY decision, we made the call that the big two-five would be the last Bardfest. And wouldn't you know it - right away, and I mean right away."
The snap of her fingers made me jump. Thankfully my cup was nearly empty as she continued with unrelenting vivacity.
"I had folks sending me pigeons about what would we be doing instead and how they wanted to get involved and I knew it was the right call. There's plenty of folks out there was chompin' at the bit to do performing arts stuff and I dunno, maybe they was hesitant on account of Bardfest. Sometimes it's jes time for the old codgers to retire, ennit?"
Energetic taps, jabs, and hand waves were interspersed with wide grins, nods, and shrugs. I was completely enthralled by this lively raconteur as she kept on at a frenetic pace.
"Anyhow, the wozzer for next year is still a baby. We got a coupla Houses and Halls who want to do some organizing to make a grand festival together and invite all kindsa artsy stuff to the fore. It will be great! We're already planning a parade and a whole bunch of other stuff. If any of your readers wanna get involved behind the curtains, they can get me a pigeon, or to Lady Traiva or Lady Katara. Ya know, Bardfest useda be hosted in Silvergate Inn, before we had our Theatre built, and Traiva been coordinating the Topsy Turvey Masque with us a coupla years now too, so it is real exciting to have them on board for the next chapter of Cholen's Eve celebration!"
I don't think she paused for breath once – I was certainly holding mine the whole time as I tried to keep up with her and frantically scribbled notes. It was clear that Bardfest means a lot to Seomanthe so, as tactfully as I could, I broached the subject of what was next for her?
"For me? Well I told Aurien I'm takin a coupla months off from cat-herding after this 'Fest! I've been so busy doing that I ent had time for even a sit down like this with you in forever, Rohese!"
The brandy must have been taking effect now as she visibly relaxed and I managed to do the same.
"I reckon I'll be goin' to rustle up my husband in his studies. Yanno, so I can properly wreck his concentration. After that, well, I ent been down to Torre in a while, nor home to visit my granddad. But you know I'll be back with Aspis at least by the Feast of the Immortals, to do Winterfest with Richaard!"
Our time was regretfully coming to a close and I realised I had not made any mention of her colorful attire! This is a fashion publication after all and I know it's a subject close to our readers' hearts – judging by the snort of laughter though, it isn't something Seomanthe is too interested in.
"Fashion! Oh, I dunno Rohese, I think praps you need to have your eyes checked."
The flamboyant motions to her attire drive the point home: a suit of dark brigandine sheathed in opalescent myklian scales, a pelisse of shimmering rainbow fabric embroidered gaudily with musical notation at the cuffs and collar, and some black silk knee-breeches laced with rainbow cording.
"I don't exactly go in for subtlety, yeh? But this is the sorta thing I like, I spose, and it fits back in with what my Greganth said about tryin to walk about town with me - I stand out and I know jes' about everyone."
Subtlety is not the first word that comes to mind with this amiable lady. You cannot fail to notice her, nor should you. She is a delight and I would highly recommend getting to know her better. Be sure to stop and meet her at Bardfest, running all week beginning the 13th day of Koaratos.
Are you thinking about attending the Topsy-Turvy Masque this month but unsure about what mask to wear? With so many out there, it's not always easy to decide. What style should you wear? Which color should you choose? How do you know if it's suitable for the event you're attending? Is it an accurate expression of your personality?
There are many factors that play into deciding which masquerade mask you'll want to wear to an event; the occasion, your outfit, and the image you want to convey are the three main factors to consider. The team at Elanthian Vogue are here to guide you through the different types of masquerade masks to help you decide which is right for you.
The carnival or full-face mask. Usually, square in shape along the jaw and forehead with no mouth, this full-face mask is often either heavily gilded or stark white. Lending an air of mystery and anonymity to any occasion, it is often utilised as a standard disguise for political or diplomatic events and by those who wish to get lost in a crowd or break a few rules. Wear it to the party where you want to make an impression when you bump into that special someone. Consider adding a tricorn black hat or veil and a mantle to add to the illusion of concealment.
Often considered to be the female counterpart to the carnival mask, the half-mask tends to be colorful and heavily decorated with jewels and feathers, covering the wearer's eyes, cheeks, and sometimes nose. This mask is most suited to a woman who isn’t afraid to let her personality shine through, but can be worn by men who prefer a lighter mask with less coverage. Wear it to the high-society event of the season, where everyone who’s anyone will be in attendance.
The plague mask is easy to identify with its really long hollow beak, round eyes. Usually simple in design and rarely ornate, it is associated with the prevention of spreading disease or worn by those with a love of all things macabre. Wear it to summer parties, Ebon Gate, and pretty much anything in between.
Another full-face mask, the theatre mask is a simpler style that covers the entire face, and depicts basic facial features such as the lips and nose. It guarantees complete and utter anonymity as no part of the face shows so best suited to those who want to make a mysterious entrance, and a quiet exit. Wear it to a masquerade party where you want to avoid being recognized by a certain someone.
The jester or joker mask features a sizeable hook nose that looks like a beak, and slanted eyes. It lends itself well to the entertainer in the group; the person who easily strikes up conversation, makes friends, and tells the funniest jokes in the room. Wear it to a cocktail party or masked ball – actually any occasion will do. After all, do you really need a reason to dazzle them all with your sparkling wit? For the prankster or more laugh-out-loud type, consider adding a belled headpiece or collar.
Lastly, there is the more common and readily available costume mask that tends to resemble an animal. This mask usually forms an integral part of the overall costume and is obvious in its portrayal. It could be something as simple as an eye mask or elaborate colored makeup with false whiskers. Wear it to a contest or themed fancy-dress party where participation is half the fun and you don’t mind looking silly – especially if you're wearing ears and a tail as well!
There are really no hard and fast rules but we hope this will help you choose a mask that helps you tell your story. Have fun with it!
We couldn’t end this edition without acknowledging the Koaratos Vogue Gallery 5119 winner. Whilst he would probably be more suited to next month’s Duskruin Supplement, Roblar is a performer in his own way; anyone who has seen him in action in the Helden Hall fighting pit or Duskruin Arena would agree. Known for his physical prowess, Roblar is also kind-hearted and has many admirers so it gives us great pleasure to feature him in the Elanthian Vogue Gallery.
Koaratos Commander Roblar The scene depicted is a fighting pit shaded in dark browns and dull greys. An imposing giantman dominates it, dressed only in a pair of canvas breeches. The somber colors and immense waraxe resting on his broad shoulder lend an ominous air to the composition but the warm smile on his face extends to his eyes to add a cheery tone. Cleanly defined in black ink, his square jaw and muscular physique is accented by sweeps of glistening gold and irregular flicks of glimmering silver highlight the touches of grey in his shoulder-length brown hair. Portrait as featured in the 5119 Vogue Gallery