ARWEN'S BRIDGE DRESS


The Bridge Dress is the most romantic dress created for the movie,I think,and also the most "elven" gown.
Arwen wears it in FotR when meeting Aragorn on the bridge in Rivendell, and also some moments before in the library where she walks up to him at the shards of Narsil statue. Here she's wearing a shawl or a cape over it. A headdress on the back of her head goes with it.


Shawl
Dress with train
Headdress


The gown is only seen from far away in the kiss shot, or from close ups when the Evenstar is handed over to Aragorn and when the camera zooms in on Arwen's face. It's also featured in two promotional shots of Arwen in front of a candle lit background. The close ups provide good views on the fabric. It can be determined as crinkle chiffon, most probably silk. There's soft beading on the gown as well, which I will describe later on.


Promotional shot

The dress is soft and flowy, it floats around Arwen as she's walking. Although there's a quote by Liv Tyler (somewhere in the audio commentary of FotR) that the real dress must have been a pain in the *ears*, because it was rustling so much and the fabric was being loud as it was dragged along the floor. This is certainly from the beading.

I've always liked this gown, but somehow it never was on my top-list. Now I've fallen in love with it, don't ask me why in particular; I just want to make it :-)

I figured the dress consists of three or maybe four layers, depending on the silk type (as with all silks, there's thicker silk chiffon and thinner qualities):

*A lining of china silk
*A second layer of silk chiffon, unbeaded
*The top layer of beaded, crinkled silk chiffon

There might be a fourth layer underneath the china silk, a lined lining, so to say, but I will do only three layers. I'm planning on using a slightly colored silk, maybe ecru, wool white or vanilla as I think the dress has a very slight yellow shimmer. I also don't want people to mistake it for a bridal dress again, like my Éowyn White Wool. I think the colored silk will provide exactly the shimmer that I want without making the dress look *too* yellow-ish.

Finding the chiffon fabric was difficult. It had to be silk, it had to be crinkled, it had to be beaded and it had to be white. All fabrics that I could find would fulfill only 1 or 2 of these points. Either it was crinkled, then it wasn't silk. If it was silk, it wasn't white...and so on. Finally I found a retailer for white crinkled silk chiffon, and I decided I will do the beading myself.
All in all, 10 metres of silk chiffon will go into this gown.



Detailed description


The designsketch shows a patterned (embroidered?) fabric with vine-like motifs. It is hard to tell, but I don't think these are on the final version of the dress, as isn't the drop waist. Maybe this was a fabric originally intended for the Bridge Gown, thus it appears in the drawing, but in the end another fabric was used. The patterned one from the sketch looks *a lot* like the Dream Gown fabric to me. This dress has vine-like motifs on the *inside*, i.e. the fabric was used wrong side out. Maybe the Dream Gown fabric was intended to be used in the Bridge Gown first and vice versa, and then was decided against. But this is just another one of my conspiracy theories! :-)

The dress that was made doesn't have a drop waist like in the sketch. There are no pictures below waist-level, but I'm almost sure the drop-waist isn't there.

If we look at the pics of the statue below, the dress looks quite tight in the waist / belly area. The statue shows a tie in the back of this dress that basically does all the shaping in this area. Probably this tie is made of silk chiffon, too.

The sleeves are panels of silk chiffon that reach down below knee-length. They leave the shoulders bare and hang down straight when Arwen bends her arm, so they are most likely left open on the inner seam, or stitched only a few inches.

The dress has a cowl / waterfall neck. Probably the waterfall is only attached to two stripes of fabric underneath, more like a trim. I'm sure it doesn't hold all the weight of this dress, it wouldn't drape so nicely if it did. So...the weight is held by two strips that are concealed by the cowl.




A bigger version is available of this. It shows the fabric of the cowl neck and also bits of the emboidery nicely. Note how the dress glimmers when light falls onto it (also in the candlelight shot above). Zillions of beads are at work here!

Unfortunately I have to say that I disagree with the new description of this dress over at Alleycatscratch. I dont see any gold embroidery or golden sequins on this dress. Of course you can't really tell with that few pictures, but I rely on what I see with my own eyes. So...maybe it's different...we'll never know until this dress appears in an exhibition (I hope it does).

The 12'' ToyBiz Arwen doll (Two Towers Edition) is also dressed in this gown,and there's a pretty good pic of the real gown on the box. Again only the cowl and sleeves, but you can see a bit of the beading. This pic supports my theory about the clear and white beads.




Fabric close-up. It's definitely crinkled silk chiffon,and it's definitely white. The beading consists of sequins and rocailles. There's always one sequin with a rocaille on top. Sequins are iridescent milky white, not metallic and not transparent. Rocailles also have a slight milky shimmer to them. Again, nothing metallic. But remember they have to glimmer in the light, so make sure they have a certain natural shimmer to them. The beads are also *white*, not cream or off-white. When looking for beads and sequins...look for something with a porcellain finish to it, that will make the right look. My rocailles for instance look like this:


 
There's a BIG version available of this on purpose, so you can see them from very close up. It took me ages to find the right beads, but I think these are perfect. They're Gütermann 1016, if you wanna look for them :-)


A test...my sequins and rocailles against my fabric like I think they are arranged in the original. If you compare with the original fabric above, it's quite close I think.

There's probably more beads along the neckline just underneath the cowl and on the sleeves...where they drop down from the shoulders, as the glimmer is extra intense there. I also *think* I can see something like a "trim" made from the beads in the fabric close-up pictures -- right underneath the cowl. I'm not sure though, but it looks like clusters of beads...




The dress has a rather long train. From about hip level, the fabric pulls back away from her body. That's probably also the place where the tie sits.
Here you can see the cream / yellow shimmer that *may* come from the light filter or from the beads reflecting the light; however, I think it's more beautiful with that yellow / vanilla shimmer than totally in white.

I *love* how her hair falls in these shots, btw :-)



Finally, the dress scanned from the doll box. Arwen's face is not very clear, but on the lower part of the neckline you can clearly see some of the sequins and beads, esp. on the left side.

Here's also a big version of this

This is the only pic apart from the screenshot where we can see the beading.


Nothing special on the dress, but....awww



























Photos of the Noble Collection© Aragorn & Arwen porcelain statue

Pictures ©by Ela
These images are watermark-protected - both visible and invisible!



I had quite a clear image in my mind what this dress was going to look like, so it was easy to get the materials that I wanted. I looked quite extensively for crinkled, beaded silk chiffon and came across some very interesting fabrics, but the right one wasn't among them. So in the end I decided for crinkled white silk chiffon without any beading, and purchased the beads myself. The underlayer I imagined was made from china silk, and luckily the week when I went fabric shopping, my favorite shop had a discount on silk. I found the perfect 10mm Habotai and bought a bit more than I usually planned 'cause it wasn't as wide as I hoped. That way, I ended up with 8 metres of beautiful silk. Of course not all went into the gown, I still have about 2 metres left.

It was white, so it had to get the cream tone that I wanted for the underdress.
After some experiments with tea and various silk dyes, I had good results with Dylon cold water tea dye.
The fabric came out of the dye bath exactly that cream color that I wanted, and the dye was very easy to work with. I dyed by hand in a small container, but you can also use it in a washing machine.

So...using my old side-seamed pattern that I took from my Blood Red Dress, I cut the underlayer (had to cheat a bit because the width of the silk required a little seam on the left side from the bottom up to about mid-calf...but better than a center front seam. The back piece has a center seam) and the four chiffon layers. The top layer is only loosely attached to the two other layers by a few stitches.

I created a tie by cutting four long pieces of my silk chiffon, sewing two of them with right sides together on three edges and then turn them "inside" out. The open, small end was pinned into the seam of the top layer and sewn down with the fabric. That way, the tie disappears into the waist seam and when it's pulled back and knotted, it pulls the fabric back as well.

At the moment, I'm struggling with the cowl neck...this looks easier than it is. I need to find a way to attach it without being bulky...
Also, the sleeves are still missing little drapey cowls, and the train will be bag-lined with my leftover silk. That's the last I will do on this dress, 'cause this will be easy. The, the beading can start ;-)
Here are some preliminary pictures nevertheless....




The tea dyed fabric (back piece with center seam)









The tea dyed fabric, front and back sewn together







The silk lining attached


A very see-through muslin
The three layers....finally!
Side view (train still unlined)
 


And finally a first quick picture of me in the dress, from a fitting. But please forgive me, I looked so awful in this pic, I *had* to photoshop out my face! People say I look a lot like Arwen these days

Finally, I've found a way to attach the cowl that doesn't look goofy...
Photos will follow, and a detailed description how I did it. I really begin to like this dress


February 2005

The dress is almost finished. The cowl is attached and I've even started beading. I will change my sleeves though for a longer version and solve the 'sagging sleeve' problem at the shoulder with this. I first thought the shoulders had little cowls as well, but it seems it's just a bigger piece of fabric sewn to the dress at the outer corner,so that it sags in the middle...a bit like the neckline of the Dream Dress, if anybody knows what I'm talking about :-)

15.03.2005

Nothing new on my dress,just an observation....
I noticed Uma Thurman's dress at the Golden Globes looked a lot like the Bridge Dress..at least the neckline. Still, it reminded me of the Bridge Dress at once. And she looks pretty in white.



Update October-December 2005

Here are finally some pics of my finished Bridge dress, not many, but I'll take some more soon.

This was taken at RingCon. I'm to the outer left. The other elves are from our group at the RingCon board. :-)
I'm wearing the Arwen wig here, and -though you can't see it - the Evenstar and Bridge headdress. I'll add some notes on the headdress soon, and some more about the dress, also pictures on the dressform.

 

 

 






At RingCon in the elven tent
With my friend Katrin at RingCon
With my friends E li and Lauríen at RingCon (picture taken by kostuemgalerie.de , thanks!)
Arwen dying...okay, in the wrong dress, but hey - you've got to be flexible ;-)
Look at the lovely 'elven star' in the back!

 

All original work is protected by intellectual property laws. No copyright infringement is intended - copyrighted images are being used for costume study purposes only. © for images from 'The Lord of the Rings' movies is with New Line Cinema / the Saul Zaentz Company. Names of places, people and things from 'The Lord of the Rings' books are © The Tolkien Estate. Site design, graphics, and content is copyright © Ela unless otherwise indicated.