THE WISHING GOWN






"Can I betray the man who once inspired my voice?"

The "Wishing gown", or more commonly referred to as the blue Managers dress or Mausoleum dress, is one of the really iconic Christine costumes. Partly because it's the only private attire we see her in throughout the show, partly because the costume is made of the same bright blue, stripy silk all over the world (with some very few exceptions).

I have a few thoughts about the costume sketch. First of all, I'm not really sure that the curly spiral-pattern on the collar, front and cuffs means appliqués, as the stage costumes has. After studying Maria Bjørnson's style and effects, I think it's merely her way of making the fabrics looks wrinkly and 3-dimentional on paper. It's like the wrinkles on the arm of the wedding dress. But I guess a costume maker suggested decorations or felt the costume design called for it, and that it was added to the original West End costumes. I assume Maria Bjørnson liked the result, as all later versions has also had it, but in various shapes and details. And the American dress doesn't have decorations at the velvel front at all, while the Australian one have very little.

Secondly, I don't think the stripes on the pleated hem of the apron calls for ribbons to be attached. I think it's merely the stripy fabric being pleated horizontally rather than vertically. But few productions has ever done this, usually trims are used instead, and the fabric is pleated with the stripes placed vertically.



The blue silk for the costume is said to be woven in India and specially printed in England for the POTO production. Let me tell you a secret... it's not! Though it might have been originally. In recent hears the exact same fabric has been used in "Dangerous Liaisons" (golden version), "Forsyte Saga" (blue version), "The Piano" (purple version) and "Lincoln" (blue version). So it IS possible to get a hold on it, but you better be in the business and have a solid budget. With a very few exceptions, the fabric is the same in all productions of Phantom around the world. The US is the only place featuring this dress in other fabrics, usually blue floral ones without stripes. This was done for Patti Cohenour's original Broadway costume, and some 1990s dresses.

Though it visually appears to have four main parts - bodice, apron, side drapes and backdrapes, all parts of the skirt and drapes are sewn together to function as one. A bustle and underskirt with pleated hem is also attached on the inside. The original underskirt was white, but nowadays most are made of navy silk/satin. Easier to avoid stains with darker fabrics. The bodice and skirt are separate, but often attached together with hooks and eyes, or elastic bands and buttons. The backside has waterfall backdrapes, alternating between the blue silk and darker blue lining. Antique braids, trims, lace and buttons is often used in the costume, to give it an antique touch. The original West End costumes used motifs cut out of antique Victorian scarves and fabrics. Later they've gotten especially made appliquées from the same place as they get the stripy blue silk. These appliquées has been used in most European productions, as well as in Southern and Latin America. Other productions use various blue/white/green/metallic appliquées.


POSSIBLE INSPIRATION


What was Maria Bjørnson's inspiration for the iconic blue dress? Hard to tell, when not having her own words on it available. For the actual blue dress I have yet to find a pose or dress which seems the same - as has been the case with many other Phantom costumes. There is, however, one outfit from 1876 she most likely saw. Namely that from a Harper's Bazar reprint edition from 1974, where she got many of her ideas for the other Victorian dresses in Phantom, for example the Don Juan Rehearsal ladies and the Hannibal princesses. Though the skater outfit from 1876 is far from identical, the way the stripes are distributed, the way the cuffs are pleated, and small details like the apron and the bow in bodice front definitely reminds me of some of Bjørnson's idea for the blue dress. So the Harper's Bazar plate is included above.

Visit this site to see a picture gallery showing different versions of the Wishing gown