"Mermaid Rock Dress" has been in my idea folder since 2012. I love playing with the way we think about costumes and wearability. And with all the mermaid and Ariel costumes you see, I have always wanted to see what could be done about having a real tail rather than a mermaid inspired dress. Thus, idea of using the famous rock in which our heroine spies on her future husband was born.
A modified hoop skirt sits under the extra wide fabric, and then the "cliff face" part of the dress was built from cardboard with elastic that goes over the hoop skirt. Because this costume was intended for Dragon Con 2019, the structure of the rock has a built in snack compartment and a place for my change of clothes, wallet, and ID.
The fabric of the rock is draped and stitched to give it the right look, and then shadows and highlights were airbrushed on. Finally, layers of water and mod-podge were spritzed on with a spray bottle until it was soaked, then dried and done again. This gave the fabric a very rigid and textured look, It always returns to this shape, even with the bustle of crowds and elevators.
The tail is a simple tube with cardboard and stuffing to give it the right shape, with a belt of the same fabric wrapping around the stomach to give the appearance of the tail being the main body rather than legs going into the skirt. The fins along the stomach detach and adjust. Finished with a deep purple bra with stitched piping to give the clam-shell look and a sculpted wig, and you've got yourself an Ariel costume!
One thing that is always very important to me while doing animated characters is to maintain the clean lines and simplistic styles that evoke classic animation. You have to out a representation onto a real, 3-dimensional physical body, but you want to avoid complex lines and textured that will pull out out of the feelings you had while watching it. For me, the goal isn't to bring the characters to life, but rather to be, to borrow a phrase, part of that world.