Costume design for Canterbury Tales

Second project of first term – costume design scheme for Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Chaucer illustrates and describes society and classes in the Middle Ages. He looks and tells stories of people from different backgrounds, ages, occupations, status and beliefs. Containing detailed descriptions of characters, the book is great resource not only for historians, but for artists (including costume designers) as well.

I chose to challenge myself further and design costumes for dance performance or ballet.

Some of the costumes I designed to be history to be historically accurate, but also carrying a symbolic meaning and concept. Like – the Giant, for example – many historians believe that giants would represent outsiders, foreigners, anyone different – therefore I chose it to be a Dervish (whirling dervish) (coming from an Islamic sect of sufism, originated in Turkey) snd he would be performing their traditional religious dance “sema”.

In order to challenge myself further, one of the characters I chose to design the costume was more of an abstract idea than a physical realistic being- the Lucifer (or Devil). It gave me the freedom I needed to fulfil my desire for multi-layered design. The image of Lucifer as we know it nowadays was created in Medieval times. There was no concept of Devil or Hell in early Christianity. We, ourselves have created the way we see him – historians, theologians, the church. we project, attach images and symbols onto the concept of evil to create something that that we would be scared of, something to help distinct between “bad” and “good”. Therefore, in my concept, the costume is projected on naked performer. The idea of having no physical clothes is symbolic in many ways – there is no Devil, there are only images or projections that people use to describe him. We project his appearance.