Eileen Skopnik won first prize in June's Dress up for Jubilee competition, a trip to London Fashion Week on 15 September. She talks about visiting LFW, designing her fantastic Queen costume and her future plans.
I've always been passionate about art but only recently became interested in designing clothes. In May 2011, a friend invited me to a costume show and that inspired my first costume, which was based on a Japanese artwork and took six weeks to complete. With no prior skills or training, I taught myself how to sew by hand, by machine, how to create and cut patterns, how to make appliqués, sew hems, zips, buttons…
I used the same principles for my Queen costume, which I based on Japanese artist Thores Shibamoto's artwork Queen Esther Blanchett and Queen Elizabeth Ist ('The Ditchley portrait') by Marcus Gheeraerts. It was all trial and error, but as an enthusiast of the Tudor/ Elizabethan era, I was fascinated by the clothes worn by Queen Elizabeth 1st. I began by researching Elizabethan fashion, starting with the undergarments and the layers needed to create a dress with such volume.
It was a long process and involved learning many different techniques. I opted to create a traditional Elizabethan bum-roll first (which sits on your hips and looks like a life ring), using cotton filled with polyfill stuffing. Next was a six-ringed hoop skirt, 20m of tulle netting, under skirts and finally the outer skirt made out of 5m white satin fabric which was hand-painted with over 700 flowers. I also used red Swarovski rhinestones in the centre of each flower, and handmade 130 red satin roses to decorate the dress and the four cloaks.
I created the crown, sceptre and orb from craft foam, cardboard and polystyrene, which was painted with silver acrylic, varnished and decorated with over 4,000 Swarovski rhinestones. The ruffs and standing collars were a real challenge, and each had 500 individually sewn on pearls. The Elizabethan Wisk (heart-shaped wired frame) was finished last, with a 10m sting of diamonds, each again individually sewn onto the lace fabric which was covering a 10m piano wire frame. All in all, it took over five months to finish. It was a lot of hard work.
Going to London Fashion Week has been a wonderful experience. It was great to see the new Jasper Conran collection, he’s a fashion legend. I loved the patchwork theme with sparkles, the floor length dresses and crochet work were absolutely beautiful and seeing the man himself – wow! Looking at the young talent on display has inspired me, and I now dream of creating my own royal themed collection. Watch this space!
The ‘Dress up for Jubilee’ competition was part of the Mayor of London presents a summer like no other. As well as a first prize six runners up were each awarded a pair of tickets to London Fashion Weekend, courtesy of the British Fashion Council. London Fashion Weekend takes place between 20 – 23 September.