Re-Creating Kira

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Kira's look was accomplished by finding the right wig, creating a facial appliance and ears, and making the costume look as close as possible to the original.

Kira's costume was the simplest costume to make, but the logistics were problematic. Andrea, the girl who wore this for the production lived in the San Diego area, while I lived in Los Angeles. She came up a couple of times, as her schedule permitted. Generally I drove down to San Diego. I had to do the work piecemeal, fitting the pattern, doing alterations and hemming as time and scheduling allowed.

By sheer luck, I found all the fabrics in the right colors. There is no dyeing with the exception of the plaited string ornamentation hanging off the sleeves, the braided string of the belt, and the rounded leaf-pendant (acrylic) that dangled from the end of the belt.

The Wig

Short hair was popular with the ladies in 1982-1984. It took a while to find an absolutely straight, blond wig. It had no bangs, so I had to re-work it, trim it, and force the synthetic hairs forward to make bangs. They still tended to try to rise up off the forehead. It had a braid on each side at the temple. The ears were sewn on the wig, and then carefully touched up.

The wig also had a tendency to tangle easily, so it had to be carefully packed and re-styled every time it came out of the box. It also tended to gravitate toward the makeup on the mask, so it had to be constantly monitored.

The Dress and Cape

Sketch of Kira's Dress

The dress was a simple A-line garment with long sleeves. Organdy leaves and other enhancements were added. The bodice and sleeves were made of a light tan/greenish synthetic fabric. The under-skirt was a muted green rayon fabric, with a light sheen to it. The hem--and every bit if it is hemmed-- was hand rolled and finished along the intentionally ragged cut of the fabric, and then pressed to keep it from curling.

The collar treatment was a series of light green, organza leaves, each of which had a vein (as a leaf would), with additional stitching around the edges. There were also leaves along the top of the shoulder from the neckline to the seam where the sleeves attached.

On the bodice was a three-leafed applique of the same material, ornamented with green seed beads. Since working in time for fittings was a problem, I elected not to put a zipper in the garment. I used grommets and lacing instead. That way, there was some leeway as far as the fit was concerned. As the back of the costume was not seen at all due to the cape and the long hair, it seemed a good strategy.

There was an overdress of the same, sheer organza material, which ran the length of the garment. It swept down from the mid-point between shoulder and collar, over the bodice, and came together at the waist. It parted to reveal the rayon under-skirt. Radiating from the top and sides of the overdress, and running over the bodice toward the center waist-point, were lines simulating leaf-veins.

Trailing off the sleeve, and attached at the seam between elbow and wrist were long triangles of rayon fabric. These were cut as slightly wider triangles, folded over, ironed, and seamed.

Detail of Sleeve

There were also several, braided green strings similar to the string used on the belt. These terminated in small, doughnut-shaped ceramic beads. There were some added seed beads at irregular intervals, as well. These helped to keep the strings from catching on the costume or tangling with the other hanging elements. They also served to weigh the pieces down so they'd hang correctly.

For the cape, I chose a lightweight blend that looked like wool. The cape itself was not quite a 3/4 circle. It worked out to a 2/3 circle, with an oddly shaped cowl. The use of varying shades of green throughout the costume made it interesting from a design standpoint, as Kira would have been associated with spring, and an ethereal quality.

On film, it looked good, but as far as stage presence, it would have needed more contrast in the various layers to really make it stand out.

I didn't want to risk compromising the look of the character by experimenting with stronger colors and more contrasts. From a distance, it looks rather nondescript, but up close, it looked good. All the pictures I've seen do not do it justice, due to the ambient hotel lighting.

Some things need to be kept simple, and the look of the character close-up was fairly close to the original, with the exception of the slightly less rounded facial appliance, and the compromises on the makekup due to the performer's broken nose.