The Fashion

Below, you’ll find pictures and commentary about Mary’s fabulous and outrageous costumes from “101 Dates”. We’d love to hear your thoughts and favourites!

Episode 1 – “The Champagne Dress”

Design: Caroline MacLeod | Photo: Damon Bailey

Designer’s Notes:

This high-waisted dress with a circle skirt was made from calico, sparkle organza and lining. We chose the green so that it would look like the colour of glass and the organza was perfect as it gave the impression of tiny bubbles. It was a case of imagining the kind of fabric you know would be perfect – and actually finding it! We found this fabric in Spotlight.

The dress itself was pretty simple, although the skirt used quite a lot of fabric. The top I did with panels instead of darts so that it would be easier to fit to the actress. There are tiny caps on the shoulders – like mini cap sleeves. Both the top and bottom have the organza over a base of different fabric. The waist band was to soften the break between the green and cream, and also to allow me to attach the wire flower.  I wanted it to look frothy and light – just like a glass of bubbles.

Construction of the dress took about 3-4 hours of work over a number of days. The final touches were the wire and the gold pieces. I threaded wire through the edges of the caps on the shoulder and made strands of the wire come off about 10cm. To these, I attached the gold pieces with a glue gun (and gave myself what felt like a 3rd degree burn in the process!). The large flower is made from wire with the organza covering it. I then made lengths of wire that I could attach more gold pieces to.  This gave the dress a bit more of an edge, and showed off some of Mary’s personality.  It is quite tame compared to Mary’s other costumes, but still introduces the audience with a tease for her outrageous fashion sense. It only gets wackier from now on!

Episode 2 – “The Rainbow Dress”

Design: Caroline MacLeod | Photo: Damon Bailey

Designer’s Notes:

I found the perfect fabric – even brighter than I had imagined it should be, in Spotlight. I began by cutting out, from calico, a piece that would fit around the bust.  I then cut a strip of the fabric and rouched (messily gathered) it onto the calico – holding it in place with small stitches.

I then joined it to the lining – making sure to include the outrageously bright pink ribbon for the strap.  I wanted it to be on the diagonal, as a normal strap is just not something Mary would be seen dead in – especially on a dress that is (relatively speaking) quite normal!

The rest of the dress was simply gathered onto the bust piece and then the invisible zip put in.  The fabric is very thin and therefore see-through.  I added lining to the inside of the dress and gathered the hems together to give a very slightly puffy effect.  It also saved time on having to do two hems.

From the remaining fabric, I covered some wire pieces to go in her hair, and found a colourful, but slightly clashing bag, so that she had an entire outfit.  The amazing work of hair and make up gave her the final touches, and off she went – brighter than a very bright thing!

Episode 3 – “The Hat”

Design: Caroline MacLeod | Photo: Damon Bailey

Designer’s Notes:

When Laura (Costume Assistant) and I first began thinking of how we were going to make a hat, we were thinking quite small. The episode is called “Mail, Hats & Holy Matrimony”.

As we were discussing what to do we passed a section in the store where you could buy boxes of all different shapes and sizes. I immediately thought of packages – these get sent in the mail don’t they? We bought 3 small ones and planned to do a kind of ‘box skewer’ – with the boxes teetering over each other. It wouldn’t have been very big, but that’s all we came up with at that stage.

A few weeks later, while sitting at home watching Oprah, I noticed that there was some cardboard and wrapping paper lying around.  I also remembered I had a glue gun. So began an odyssey of making boxes, wrapping them, tying bows onto them and gluing them onto something which just became bigger and bigger! The base of the hat was made from cardboard that I made into a triangular tube and glued to a board.

Perhaps the biggest challenge, once I had gotten over my frenzy of box-making, was that I had no idea at all how I was going to get it onto someone’s head…and make it stay there! I tried to make a hole in the base board up into the tube but this wasn’t big enough – even for a small head. I then came across a basic milliner’s woven cap. This I covered with some red fabric and glued to the base. I then glued wrapping-ribbon straps all around the hat and it had to be tied on good and tight. Emma (Mary) wore it well and looked fabulous!

Episode 4 – “The Butterfly Dress”

Design: Caroline MacLeod | Photo: Damon Bailey

Designer’s Notes:

From the very beginning of production this was always going to be the outfit that took the most work.  Chaz provided some ideas from the internet and then let me take it in my own direction – the way I love to work!

As we were on a strict budget and I knew I would need a lot of fabric, I could only get cotton poplin.  It’s not the most luxurious of fabrics, but the colours were bright and it’s also relatively easy to work with.  I began by making the petals for the dress and cut out the shapes I wanted from the red and orange fabrics – 3 petals from each.  I then cut out the black fabric to the same shape and drew where I wanted the cut-outs to be.  I did the cut-outs the same on all the petals – this meant I could save time by cutting out a few at once.

Once this was done, I then cut out different colours to insert between the base of the petal and the black.  This gives the effect of the butterfly wings.  I brought a pink into the mix to give the dress a bit more variety in terms of colour.  It took quite a lot of time to cut out all the coloured pieces, pin them behind the black and sew around them.  I painted the white dots with fabric paint – this really lifted the petals and made them look butterfly-like.  I lined all of the petals as well to make sure the finish was professional.

The next step was to make a bodice to attach the petals to.  I made a simple panelled bodice from the red fabric and lined it.  I gathered the tops of the petals and sewed them in a double layer – 3 on top, 3 behind – onto the bodice at waist height.  The final touch was to sew a black spotted waistband around the waist to disguise where the petals joined the bodice, and to help define the shape of the dress a bit more.  This definition was also helped by putting a puffy skirt underneath the main dress to lift everything up.

I inserted an invisible zip that went down the back of the bodice and into the back petal.  In hindsight, I believe that lacing or a normal zip may have been a better option – as the invisible zip had a lot of trouble going through all the layers and nearly caused tears when it wouldn’t go up – sometimes it took over 20 minutes and several people to zip Emma into it!

The final few small things that I did were to sew some feathers around the top of the bodice and sew sequins around some of the coloured inserts on the petals.  I quickly realised that many, many metres of sequins would be needed to do all of the inserts, so just did a few on each petal.  I put gold glitter paint around some of the rest.

I’m very happy with the final outcome as it looks pretty awesome.  Deb did a fantastic job with the hair and make-up which completely set the dress off to its best.  I’d bought a couple of small butterflies and we put these in Emma’s hair and on her handbag and she looked simply stunning!

Episode 5 – “The Bow Dress”

Design: Caroline MacLeod | Photo: Laura Wallace

Designer’s Notes:

This was one of the easiest costumes to make for the series as I already obtained a black dress from a colleague that I knew would fit Emma. All I then had to do was create a massive bow to go across the front of the dress and I wanted to make it as eye-catching as possible so I bought black and white checked cotton drill.

I made two bows and a tie for the middle. To give a touch of colour, I sewed a thin orange ribbon around the edge of the bow and they were then safety pinned to the dress (it needed to be given back to the owner after all!).

I think what really makes this costume look its best is Deb’s hair and make up. The hair was styled into a huge black bow and they then gave her black and white bow lips to compliment the checkered material and the finished piece looked awesome!

Episode 6 – “The Riddler Dress”

Design: Caroline MacLeod | Photo: Damon Bailey

Designer’s Notes:

This was another dress where some money and time was able to be saved. Inspired by the subject matter of Alice’s date and partially by the character “The Riddler”, I had a corset I had made for a previous event that was a “Riddler” green. The skirt was made from a 1 metre piece of organza cut in half on a diagonal.  I made a waistband for the elastic to go through and sewed black sequins on in the shape of question marks. The dots for the question marks were large black stick-on gems and I also used these to make a gem question mark for the corset – they were glued onto wire and this was then sewn onto the corset itself.

A large question mark that went in her hair on the day was made from wire and covered in black velvet.  I then wound black sequins around it and added a gem at the bottom.  In the episode itself, Deb worked it into Emma’s hair and it looked pretty cool.  Again, the make up that Deb did for this outfit enhanced it and made it a hundred times better – the “Blade Runner” style purple face band was wicked!

Episode 7 – “The Gothic Dress”

Design: Caroline MacLeod | Photo: Damon Bailey

Designer’s Notes:

For this dress, I actually drew a couple of sketches before I started – instead of making the entire thing up as I went along.  I knew I wanted some very dark fabrics, but ones that were also slinky, so I bought some cheap black stretch velvet, tulle and lace.  Some big modifications were made to an old leotard pattern for the main part of the dress to give it a good fitted shape.  Most of the dress was quite simple to make – just over-locking seams and lace to the cuffs and bottom.  I added the collar to help keep the large collar-piece in place.  Black gems were positioned on the top of the dress and on the cuffs so it wasn’t completely bare.

For the large collar, a wire frame was made with pliers – I then made a basic tie for around the neck that I could slot the ends into.  The black lace was glue-gunned onto the frame, then the gems were added for a bit of sparkle.  I added Velcro to the back of the collar and the collar-piece so that it would stand up.  On the day, I bent the collar-piece into a curve as this helped it stay upright and also framed Emma’s face a little more.

Combined with Debra’s brilliant make-up once again, the costume along with Emma working the look made it both hilarious and stunning in equal measure.

Episode 8 – “The Asymmetrical Catsuit”

Designer’s Notes:

Originally this was just going to be a simple black dress with nothing very over the top.  However, by the time we reached this piece, it was very obvious that something that simple for Mary just would not do!

Lycra was the main ingredient, with just a hint of purple fur and a good dollop of bare skin. To make it slightly wild and to fit in with the 80s theme of the episode, I made it asymmetrical – with one bare leg and one bare arm. I used an old catsuit pattern and then did cut-outs on the side of the body.  Fortunately I made the side cut-outs quite small as I didn’t realise they would stretch so much – they became much larger than anticipated.  All of the openings were hemmed with the purple fur to draw more attention to them.

With the leftover scraps, I made a large hood.  I knew it would fall very flat if it was just put over the head, so I added wire around the rim and this was attached to Emma’s hair with bobby pins.  It was very tight, but luckily Emma has a fab figure so she rocked it completely!

Episode 9 – “The Fire Dress”

Designer’s Notes:

As we headed towards the final episodes, I knew that I needed to get more and more creative and have a couple of really spectacular, eye-catching garments to make sure Mary ends on a high. For the fire dress, I got the brightest, flamiest fabrics I could find.

I found a great tinsel-like material that was more paper than fabric – but the colours changed when you moved it and it really did look like it was burning.  I also bought some cheerleader pompoms as they were made out of tinsel and that added even more movement and sparkle.

The main fabric was slightly stretchy so the dress was made quite tight.  I sewed ribbon over the tops of the seams to accentuate them – this also accentuated Emma’s curves.  I cut up the pompoms and added them to the shoulders.  The bottom of the dress was made by cutting the orange organza I had into flame shapes and attaching to the bottom.

I also added sequins to the bottom of the flames so they glimmered in the light.  The flame material was sewn over the join. The sleeves were finished off with some organza frills, and some of the flame material.  I also used this material to trim the neckline.

As it was more paper-like it did end up splitting so I had to sew several diamond-shaped pieces over the joins to strengthen them. The final flourish was a red beaded lace mask that Emma wore over her eyes.  It made seeing hard but made the outfit  perfect for Mary’s theatrics, it was drama all the way!

Episode 10 – “Disco Madness”

Designer’s Notes:

Well, the finale had to be something special.  We’d come a long way from when we first thought that this outfit could be a semi-sparkly dress with some sequins on a hat. One of our first ideas was to make her into a literal giant disco ball – but this would have had many challenges and been costly.  Various shapes were drawn up, but Chaz and I decided that an actual 70’s silhouette would be the best.

I found a great silver fabric that sparkled and Laura and I spied some polystyrene balls that we knew we could use.  Other elements in this costume included silver card, wire and silver glitter paint. Laura spent an afternoon painting the balls silver – we then added glitter paint.  I made a catsuit with massive flares and a low front.  I then inserted wire around the neckline and added diamond-shaped pieces of card onto more wire.  These shone and bounced in the light which gave a very disco feel.  I trimmed the edges of the flares and the belt with silver satin.

Once the main bit of sewing was complete I arranged the balls on the catsuit and the belt.  These were then glue-gunned on.  The overall effect was a disco outfit on acid. Deb got hold of an awesome afro and did some great make-up which, once again, pulled everything together so that Emma could rock the look!

9 Responses to The Fashion

  1. Louise says:

    I heard about this show because we live in the building where it’s being filmed I saw some of the amazing costumes – thought it was a fancy dress party going on the first week they were there! 🙂 Looking forward to checking it out!

  2. Karen says:

    Woah, I love that dress! Well done, can’t wait to see it in action, it does look like it has tiny bubbles in it 🙂

  3. Anna says:

    I want that Rainbow dress!!!

  4. Sarah says:

    Love the outfits.. and loving how they are themed with each episode! Fantastic work.

  5. Poppy75 says:

    I want some of these outfits, that bow dress is so cool!!

  6. Sue says:

    I absolutely love the dresses. Just one question, what happens to them all once you’ve finished with them?

  7. Samantha Arter says:

    Alice,
    I see the episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter and every episode you have an awesome outfit on. Where do you buy your clothes?

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