Costumes, sets of 'Lady Windermere's Fan' mirror 1900s


During DePauw Theatre's rendition of Lady Windermere's Fan, sophomore actress Therese Boyich gets to fulfill every young girl's dream — to play dress up with gowns designed especially for her.

"They are some of my favorite costumes I have ever worn in a show." Boyich said. "I feel very refined in them. I have always loved this time period, and I feel like I get to play dress up every night."

The play by Oscar Wilde is set in 1912 and relates the humorous tale of a married couple troubled by infidelity but brought back together at the expense of the husband's ex-lover.

Throughout the play's four acts, the actresses don various beautiful ball gowns fitting the decade. From gorgeous, full-skirted dresses to long, elegant gloves, the costumes are every bit as graceful as the characters in the play. Much like shopping for proms and formals, finding the right dress is not always an easy task for directors and costumers.

"Several of the women's costumes were built for the show, and we bought many of the formal [dresses] at the costume shop then adapted them to fit the time period," said Susan Anthony, professor of communication and the play's director.

With such extensive costumes needed, the costume crew, including junior Lily Bonwich and senior Mary Kathryn Tilly, began working about a month ago.

"We began to work on [the costumes] in earnest four weeks ago," said Caroline Good, costume shop supervisor. "The inspiration came mainly from the time period in which silhouettes and shape were pushing the fashion into the next era."

Good took the details of the play into account when designing the detailed ensembles, including character personalities.

"...We based mainly in pastel colors because of the indication in the script that [they were the] first balls of the season and therefore would have been in early spring," Good said. "A third factor was that one character's costumes, whose standing in society is questioned, be in darker, more saturated tones with peacock feathers as an accent."

After all of Good's hard work, Boyich's on-stage ensembles perfectly matched her character.

"The costumes really help me get into character," Boyich said, who plays an innocent, kind woman. "My costumes are all different shades of light blue, which give me an innocent look. The style of them is very modest compared to clothing we see today, so I really feel like this woman I am portraying."

The girls aren't the only actors enjoying their onstage ensembles. Junior Jared Norman plays Lord Darlington, Lady Windermere's short-term lover.

"My first outfit is a light green plaid suit.  Several of the cast members have commented and say that I look like the hunter from the movie ‘Jumanji,'" he said. "My second outfit is just a standard tux with tails, a white bow tie and vest, and striped slacks."

Norman's outfits don't just make him feel stylish — they bring something else to the table.

"When I put my costumes on, it completes the process for me as an actor," he said. "I finally feel like everything that I am doing is what Lord Darlington would do."

The costumes are not the only aspect of the play helping to enhance the feel of the decade. Just as much detail and effort went into creating the Late Victorian, Early Edwardian period sets, which change each act.

The sets fit the elegant, Victorian feel of the costumes. For instance, a grand staircase is featured in the ballroom scene.

Through its period fashion and sets, this play uses creative visual aspects to invite the audience to experience a little bit of early 1900s culture.