The Matrix Costume Patterns

The Matrix costume, 2017 D0801 envelope - Simplicity, "The Leaders in Cosplay Sewing"
Simplicity D0801 (2017) Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Ready for a cybergoth revival? The Matrix is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Variety has just announced that there will be a Matrix 4, to be directed by Lana Wachowski and again starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

The costumes in the first Matrix were hugely influential. Working within a tight budget, costume designer Kym Barrett (Romeo + Juliet, Us) placed the emphasis on texture and movement, using low-cost materials like PVC and a wool blend for Neo’s coat. The rebels were also outfitted in custom accessories, with boots by Barrett and bespoke eyewear by Richard Walker.

On March 31st the fight for the future begins. Poster for The Matrix (1999) Image: IMDb

The first Matrix film even inspired John Galliano’s Fall 1999 couture collection for Dior. Presented at Versailles, the collection mixed futuristic raver-couture with more fanciful references like “Gainsborough in Persia.” (“The dresses are evil, evil,” Galliano was quoted saying. “But you have to have the Romantic. They die for that, my ladies.”) As Vogue’s Hamish Bowles wrote, the couture clients warmed more to the 18th-century looks than to “Matrix cybervixen.”

Dior By John Galliano - Couture Collection Fall Winter 1999-2000. Le 19 juillet 1999, dans la cadre de la présentation de la Collection haute couture Automne- Hiver, 1999-2000 de Christian DIOR par John GALLIANO à l'Orangerie du château de Versailles. ici le styliste posant avec un groupe de jeunes mannequins androgynes, dont certains sont des hommes torse nu, portant un maquillage épais et charbonneux de longs cheveux lisses, trois filles portent des bérets. (Photo by Jean-Claude Deutsch/Paris Match via Getty Images)
John Galliano with models backstage at the Dior couture show, the Orangerie at Versailles, July 19, 1999. Photo: Jean-Claude Deutsch. Image: Paris Match via Getty Images.
Dior evening dress in satin and lime green glitter PVC, L'Officiel Sept 1999
Dior haute couture by John Galliano, L’Officiel, September 1999. Photo: Randall Bachner. Editors: Bernât Buscato and Luciano Neves. Image: jalougallery.com.
Molly Sims photographed in Christian Dior haute couture by John Galliano by Ruven Afanador
Dior haute couture by John Galliano on the cover of Vogue Paris, September 1999. Model: Molly Sims. Photo: Ruven Afanador. Image: Molly Sims.

It wasn’t until 2003’s big-budget sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, that Neo got his famous cassock coat.

Keanu Reeves as Neo on the cover of French Premiere, October 2003. Image: Famous Fix.

The first Matrix-inspired costume patterns came out in 2003.

Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus in a promo image for The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Promotional image for The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Image: Foxtel Movies.

Simplicity’s Neo and Morpheus / “Men’s and Teen’s Duster” must have sold well: the pattern was rereleased with an updated envelope in 2017. (See top of post.) Now backlisted, it’s still available from the company website.

Morpheus and Neo costume pattern (The Matric Reloaded) - Simplicity 5386
Simplicity 5386 (2003) Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Thanks to the sequel’s higher budget, Barrett designed Trinity’s pieces for better-quality PVCs (then newly available), with patent leather used for closeups. For the women’s pattern, Trinity’s PVC bustier-coat ensemble effectively devolves into its separate elements: a princess-seamed duster, corset top, and pants. The pattern calls for stretch vinyl, leather-like fabrics, and synthetic patent leather.

Trinity costume pattern (The Matrix Reloaded) - Simplicity 5380
Simplicity 5380 (2003) Matrix costume. Image: Etsy.

The following year, Butterick and McCall’s released men’s and children’s Neo patterns, but none for Trinity. Both cassock coats share an authentic, if painstaking touch: lots of covered buttons.

Witch + Neo from the Matrix costume pattern - Butterick 4314
Butterick 4314 (2004) Image: eBay.
Adult and children's Neo / Matrix costume - McCalls 4546
McCall’s 4546 (2004) Matrix costume. Image: eBay.

It would be another decade before Andrea Schewe designed a more accurate Trinity duster. Released in Simplicity’s 90th anniversary year, the PVC duster was paired with a Kingdom Hearts cosplay coat.

Kingdom Hearts and Trinity from the Matrix costume pattern - Simplicity 8482 (2017)
Simplicity 8482 (2017) Kingdom Hearts and Matrix costumes. Image: Etsy.

Here’s S8482 with more sci-fi (Firefly and Rogue One) in the seasonal catalogue:

Trinity, Zoe Washburne, Jyn Erso, and Kingdom Hearts costume patterns. Find the Adventure - Simplicity Autumn 2017 catalogue
Find the Adventure – S8482 and S8480 in Simplicity’s Autumn 2017 catalogue. Image: Simplicity.

There’s no word on the costume designer yet, but production on the new Matrix begins in 2020.

Trinity character poster featuring Carrie-Anne Moss - The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Reloaded Trinity character poster (2003) Image: IMDb.

Outlander Costumes

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "Not in Scotland Anymore" Outlander s2 e2
Promotional image for Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz.

In honour of Burns Night, a guide to Outlander patterns.

Outlander is now in its fourth season; it’s been renewed for two more. Adapted from the popular series by Diana Gabaldon, the time-travelling romance has plenty of source material: Gabaldon is currently working on her ninth Outlander book.

Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "The Devil's Mark" Outlander S1 e11
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Harper’s Bazaar.

Sunday’s season finale will be the last episode to feature costumes by Terry Dresbach. Trisha Biggar is the new costume designer for season 5. Biggar, who is from Glasgow, is best known for her work on the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Scottish costume designer Trisha Biggar's Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (2005)
Trisha Biggar’s Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars (Abrams 2005)

In 2017, Simplicity’s unofficial Outlander patterns prompted Dresbach to take down her website. (It’s back now.) The next year, McCall’s started releasing official, licensed Outlander patterns.

Simplicity

Fall Through Time - Simplicity Outlander costumes by American Duchess
Fall Through Time – American Duchess’ Outlander costume, Simplicity 8161. Image: Simplicity.

Simplicity’s adapted-from-Outlander patterns are by American Duchess, a historical costuming company based in Reno, Nevada. The three patterns are based on Claire’s costumes in seasons 1 and 2: 18th-century Highland dress and an unusual court gown. There’s also a free pattern for her crocheted cowl.

Claire Fraser dress pattern - Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016)
Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016) Image: Simplicity.
Claire's underthings pattern - Simplicity 8161 by American Duchess (2016)
Simplicity 8162 by American Duchess (2016) Image: Simplicity.

It was this version of Claire’s red dress that caused such consternation online. Claire wears the original during her visit to Versailles in “Not in Scotland Anymore,” the episode that earned Outlander its first Emmy nomination for costume design. It was also seen in promotional materials for season 2 (see top of post). The pattern is still in print, but as with Simplicity’s Game of Thrones patterns, the colour was soon changed to a less provocative teal.

A pattern version of Claire Fraser's scandalous red dress - Simplicity 8411 by American Duchess (2017)
Simplicity 8411 by American Duchess (2017) Image: Simplicity.

McCall’s

McCall’s started licensing official Outlander patterns in 2018. (Company founder James McCall was a Scottish immigrant, and McCall’s UK — McCalls Ltd — is not a pattern company, but a Highlandwear outfitters.) McCall’s Outlander patterns cover both women’s and men’s costumes, with many available as instant downloads. For the first few releases this meant Claire and Jamie Fraser, or 18th-century Scottish highlander garb.

Outlander costumes M7736 and M7735 in McCall's Spring 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7736 and M7735 in McCall’s Spring 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.
Outlander season 2's shirtless and kilted MacKenzie men
Alternate look for kilt M7736. Image: Starz.

Next came the couple’s wedding clothes: Jamie’s frock coat and Claire’s wedding dress.

Outlander costumes M7762 and M7764 in McCall's Spring 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7762 and M7764 in McCall’s Spring 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in "The Wedding," Outlander s1 e7 (2014)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.

Outerwear was the focus of the Summer release, with patterns for Claire’s fur-trimmed riding jacket and Jamie’s leather coat.

Outlander costumes M7792 and M7794 in McCall's Summer 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7792 and M7794 in McCall’s Summer 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe) goes riding in Outlander, season 1 e4
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Terry Dresbach.
Scottish laird Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15)
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 1 (2014-15). Image: Starz.

Jamie is still wearing the coat in season 2, when he joins up with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Dresbach suited the latter not in the Stuart, but the MacQueen tartan.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and Jamie Fraser in "Prestonpans" Outlander season 2 episode 10 (2016)
Charles Stuart (Andrew Gower) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz.

This fall, we finally saw a costume for British officer Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, plus Claire’s blue riding jacket-and-waistcoat combo from season 3’s Emmy-nominated episode, “Freedom & Whisky.” The title is a Burns quote, and the episode sees Claire sewing the outfit herself, for time travel. A costume book lies open by her sewing machine, and her ensemble looks to be based on a memorable riding habit in Janet Arnold’s classic, Patterns of Fashion.

Outlander costumes M7823 and redcoat uniform M7824 in McCall's Early Fall 2018 lookbook
Outlander costumes M7823 and M7824 in McCall’s Early Fall 2018 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Tobias Menzies in his redcoat uniform as Outlander's Black Jack Randall
Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) in Outlander. Image: Starz.
Snowshill Manor riding habit in Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's dresses and their construction, c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold
The Snowshill Manor riding habit in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1 (1964). Image: Pinterest.
Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) and Claire (Caitríona Balfe) in Outlander, season 3 (2017). Image: Starz.

This year, McCall’s Outlander patterns caught up to the show with this caraco jacket and skirt. The jacket looks to be one of Claire’s remade outfits, courtesy of Jamie’s aunt Jocasta.

Outlander costume M7916 in McCall's Early Spring 2019 lookbook
Outlander costume M7916 in McCall’s Early Spring 2019 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 4 (2018-19)
Claire (Caitríona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughans) in Outlander, season 4 (2018-19). Image: tumblr.

Slàinte! To freedom and whisky.

Update (April 2019): This new release includes Claire’s peplum jacket and fichu (scarf), plus a chemise:

Outlander costume McCall's 7940 (2019)
Outlander costume M7940 in McCall’s Spring 2019 lookbook. Image: McCall’s.

Costumes after Eiko Ishioka

Google doodle celebrating Eiko Ishioka's work in Tarsem Singh's The Fall (2006)
Google doodle celebrating Eiko Ishioka, 2017. Image: Google.

In memory of Eiko Ishioka, who would have been 80 this year, a look at costume patterns based on her work.

Eiko on Stage (Callaway, 2000) Image: abebooks.

Eiko Ishioka (1938-2012) is best known as the costume designer for The Cell and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which she won an Academy Award in 1993. Her last film project was Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins.

Poster for Mirror, Mirror (2012). Image: IMdB.

McCall’s and Simplicity both released patterns based on the film. McCall’s 6629 came in adult and children’s sizes. (Out of print, but details still on the Cosplay by McCall’s site.)

McCall’s 6629 / 240 (2012) Image: Etsy.

On the left—view D with collar E and feathered backpiece F—is Julia Roberts’ wicked queen. Ishioka’s original gown has panniers and miles of cartridge pleating:

The Queen (Julia Roberts) and Brighton (Nathan Lane) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Jan Thijs ©Snow White Productions, 2011.

The gown features white peacock embroidery and a molded basque with four-piece cups.

Julia Roberts as the Queen in Mirror Mirror. Image ©Snow White Productions, 2011.

View B (top right) is clearly Lily Collins’ Snow White, but so is view A. It’s the dress with floral basque and skirt, seen early in the film, which Ishioka topped with one of the most memorable capes in cinema.

Snow White (Lily Collins) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Image ©Relativity Media, 2011.
Lily Collins in Mirror Mirror (2012). Image ©Relativity Media / Richard Crouse.

Simplicity also offered Snow White’s dress from the film’s Bollywood finale, moving the giant bow down from the shoulders.

Simplicity 1728 (2012)
Simplicity 1728 (2012) Image: eBay.
Snow White (Lily Collins) in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Jan Thijs ©Relativity Media.

The Costume Designers’ Guild gave Ishioka a posthumous award for Mirror Mirror. (For more on the production, see Wired.) And since her on-screen version, all yellow capes seem to point back to Snow White’s.

Caitriona Balfe wears Terry Dresbach's yellow cloak in Outlander, season 2 (2016)
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in Outlander, season 2 (2016). Image: Starz / Life According to Jamie.
Alberta Ferretti coat, Fall 2017. Images: Moda Operandi.
Jordan Prentice, Joey Gnoffo, Sebastian Saraceno, Lily Collins, Martin Klebba, Mark Povinelli, Ronald Lee Clark, and Danny Woodburn in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Matthew Rolston
Jordan Prentice, Joey Gnoffo, Sebastian Saraceno, Lily Collins, Martin Klebba, Mark Povinelli, Ronald Lee Clark, and Danny Woodburn in Mirror Mirror (2012). Photo: Matthew Rolston ©Relativity Media 2011.

Battle On, Xena!

Lucy Lawless in "Return of Callisto," episode 5 of Xena: Warrior Princess, season 2, 1996
Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess, 1996. Image: NBC Universal/Movie Pilot.

Before Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, there was Xena: Warrior Princess. The Hercules spinoff starring Lucy Lawless as a Thracian warrior became a cult hit, thanks partly to that iconic leather armour by Ngila Dickson.

Lucy Lawless' Xena: Warrior Princess costume at the Museum of New Zealand
Image: Museum of New Zealand.

Best known today for her work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Dickson won a New Zealand Film and TV Award for Xena in 1998. The same year saw both an animated Hercules and Xena and official licensed costume patterns from Butterick. (Simplicity had done unofficial Xena patterns in 1997.)

The Butterick costumes call for synthetic leather for the dress and accessories, metallic cord and marker, and cotton Lycra to make your own undershorts. Chakram not included.

1990s official adult's Xena: Warrior Princess costume, Butterick 5726
Butterick 5725 (1998) Official adult’s Xena: Warrior Princess costume.
1990s official children's Xena: Warrior Princess costume, Butterick 5726
Butterick 5726 (1998) Official children’s Xena: Warrior Princess costume.

Happy Halloween!

Blade Runner, Fashion, and Sewing Patterns

Blade Runner-inspired Vogue Italia cover photographed by Steven Meisel, March 1998
Eugenia Silva wears Prada on the cover of Vogue Italia, March 1998. Photo: Steven Meisel. Editor: Bill Mullen. Image: The Fashion Spot.

Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve’s much-anticipated sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, opens today. Here’s a look at the fashion references and influence of the 1982 cult classic. (For Blade Runner’s influence on current fashion and an interview with costume designer Renée April, see Booth Moore, “‘Blade Runner 2049’ Already a Hit on the Fashion Runways.”)

Ryan Gosling in Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Image: Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros.
Mugler Angel perfume ad, 2003
Thierry Mugler “Angel” fragrance advertisement, 2003. Image: eBay.

Blade Runner’s BAFTA-winning costume designers, Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan, cite 1940s film noir, with its iconic characters like Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade and Rita Hayworth’s Gilda, as their main inspiration. For the replicant Rachael, they also looked to the 1930s and ’40s tailoring of Hollywood costume designer-turned-couturier Adrian. (Kaplan is still in the genre-film spotlight with the new Star Wars trilogy, while the Adrian label—the subject of a recent exhibit—is being revived as Adrian Original.)

Rachael's fur coat and pieced suit - Blade Runner sketches by Michael Kaplan
Rachael costume sketches by Michael Kaplan for Blade Runner (1982). In Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design (Collins, 2007).

Kaplan used vintage fabrics for Rachael’s Adrian-inspired outfits: “I liked the idea of combining different shades of suiting fabrics to create patterns—something Adrian did. In this case I used amazing vintage suiting woollens in shades of grey and beige, with metallic threads that I was lucky enough to find, which created a subtle luminous quality.” (Source: AnOther mag.) This circa 1944 Butterick suit features Adrian-style piecing:

1940s colour-blocked suit pattern Retro Butterick 6286
Butterick 6286 from 1944 (2015)

In the 1980s, Claude Montana was the go-to designer for the decade’s updated triangular silhouette. (Ridley Scott has acknowledged the decade’s ’40s revival as an important factor in the film’s aesthetic.) This Vogue Individualist design plays up the ’40s influence:

1980s Claude Montana dress pattern - Vogue Individualist 1927
Vogue 1927 by Montana (1987)

In spring, 1997, Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut was one of the first movies to be released on DVD. The following spring, working with stylist Bill Mullen and set designer Jack Flanagan, Steven Meisel photographed a Blade Runner-homage cover and editorial for Vogue Italia’s March 1998 prêt-à-porter issue. Michael Kaplan recalls mistaking the cover for a film still. The editorial features text from Roy’s climactic monologue (“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”) with clothes from Prada’s Spring 1998 collection, which paired natural materials with synthetics like latex and plexiglass.

Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion... Prada in Vogue Italia, March 1998
Prada Spring ’98 in Vogue Italia, March 1998. Photo: Steven Meisel. Editor: Bill Mullen. Image: Vogue Italia Archive.

Meanwhile, in Paris, Alexander McQueen referenced Blade Runner in his Fall/Winter 1998 ready-to-wear collection for Givenchy. Visionaire’s Alexander McQueen memorial issue includes an image from Steven Meisel’s fall advertising campaign. (For more on this collection, see my McQueen series post.)

Two looks from Alexander McQueen's for Givenchy Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter
Two looks from Alexander McQueen’s Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter collection for Givenchy. Images: firstVIEW, Corbis.
V2228 and V2248 on the runway - Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter
V2228 and V2248 (under jacket) on the runway – Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter. Images: Corbis.
Givenchy FW 1998 photographed by Steven Meisel in Visionaire 58: Spirit (2010)
Givenchy Fall 1998 by Alexander McQueen in Visionaire 58: Spirit (2010). Photo: Steven Meisel. Image: 1stdibs.

Sewists and Blade Runner devotees are fortunate to have two licensed patterns from this collection:

FW 1998 rtw fur-trimmed suit pattern by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Vogue 2228
Vogue 2228 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1998) Image: PatternVault shop.
FW 1998 rtw cowl-neck dress by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Vogue 2248
Vogue 2248 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy (1999) Image: PatternVault shop.

The sleeveless version of the dress seems to have been shown with a jacket on the runway. (Click the image to read about my version, which I wore to TIFF’s Cronenberg exhibit.)

In V2248 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy at BMC Labs / David Cronenberg: Evolution
In V2248 by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy at David Cronenberg: Evolution, 2014.

Rachael’s chevron-quilted synthetic fur coat gets the most screen time, but it’s her blue brocade coat with standing fur collar that appears to have been McQueen’s main reference for the fur-trimmed coats and jackets. As the pattern reveals, the collar stands with the help of boning.

Rachael (Sean Young) in her quilted faux-fur coat in Blade Runner (1982)
Rachael (Sean Young) in her quilted faux-fur coat. Image: Vogue Italia.
Rachael's fur-trimmed blue brocade coat in Blade Runner (1982)
Rachael’s blue brocade coat. Images: Pinterest, Christies/BladeZone.
Charles Knode fur-trimmed coat sketches for Blade Runner
Charles Knode fur-trimmed coat sketches for Blade Runner. Image: BladeZone.
Blue leather coat with standing fur collar, Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Fall 1998 rtw
Blue leather coat with standing fur collar, Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, Fall 1998 prêt-à-porter collection. Images: eBay.

(Wool version available here.)

The weathered tones and textures of Mayan Revival—prominently seen in Deckard’s apartment, as played by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House—form a thread linking the first film, Meisel’s Givenchy campaign, and Villeneuve’s sequel. It was Kaplan’s vision of a dirty retrofuture, rather than glossy futurism, that won him the Blade Runner gig. It will be interesting to see what role revivals play in the new film.

Rachael (Sean Young) visits Deckard's apartment in Blade Runner (1982)
Rachael (Sean Young) in Blade Runner (1982) Image: Restless Things.
Meisel campaign images for Alexander McQueen's Blade Runner collection for Givenchy, FW 1998
Givenchy Fall 1998 ad campaign featuring Alexander McQueen’s Blade Runner collection. Photos: Steven Meisel. Models: Erin O’Connor and Jade Parfitt.
K (Ryan Gosling) in Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049
K (Ryan Gosling) in Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Image: Vogue Italia.

For more production images for the new film, see the Vogue Italia gallery.