Naomi Lazarus' Costume Archives Page ~An Ideal Husband

I was delighted to work on An Ideal Husband with Presentation House in their 3rd St. Series, and, of course, Oscar Wilde is always a delight. This period allows so much creativity in the clothing, especially for women's fashions. I made most of the women's costumes, but found some really wonderful pieces at UBC, the Arts Club Theatre and Studio 58 to finish it off.

Act I

Eroca Morin and Bernie Greening were wonderful as the pretentious Mrs. Marchmont and Lady Basildon, and, despite only being in the first scene, showed up every night and sat backstage in their party dresses until curtain call.

Colin Lewis was flawless as the officious Lord Caversham and Anne Marsh played the rambling Lady Markby with great zeal and comedy.

Goring was played by Kirk Smith who was also in last year's production of Lock Up Your Daughters and Mabel was played charmingly by Kristina Murphy. While her dress seems very light and floaty (nicknamed the "pink champagne dress"), it actually weighs about 20 pounds. But, she made it float beautifully.

Ian Attewell was excellent at being an overly polite English gentleman, assisted greatly, I'm sure, by the fact that he is an overly polite English gentleman. Christina Schild's performance as a scheming bitch was more of a stretch, but one she managed beautifully.

Emma Slip was lovely as the sweet, but tragically unforgiving Lady Chiltern, and her soft manner and unyielding personality made a perfect contrast to Cheevely's high handed compromising nature.

Act II

One of the interesting aspects of fashion in this period is the stark contrast between the completely covering day wear and the relatively revealing evening gowns. Even Mrs. Cheevely is covered from neck to hem. Lady Chiltern's green suit and Lady Markby's orange were generally mentioned to me as the favourites of all the costumes. Emma Slip ran the impromptu hat making workshop we had, as well as dressing most of the ladies' hair. It's a shame I haven't a picture of Emma's bonnet, because it was really lovely.

The main idea I had with this scene is that Cheevely's costume should have a vaguely military look about it, as she's there to wage war, whereas I wanted Lady Chiltern's suit to be reminiscent of a very thorny rose.

I borrowed this suit from Studio 58, as a back-up piece. I actually thought it was a rather odd looking suit on the hanger. But, occasionally, something which looks unexciting on the hanger, when worn by a pretty girl, suddenly becomes surprisingly lovely, and this is an excellent example. I'm learning not to judge costumes until I see them worn.

Kirk Smith was, as usually, quite brilliant in the role of Goring, a character Oscar Wilde clearly based on himself. He had just the right blend of effemininity and sex appeal, and a wonderfully sarcastic drawl.


This cloak was rented from the Arts Club Theatre, and weighed about 40 pounds, without exaggeration. It was an interesting endurance test for Kirk, as he spends the entire scene following Colin around, holding the cloak up to put back on his shoulders.

Unfortunately this period does not allow a lot of variance for men's clothings, but I did find some nice waistcoats. And I just like that last picture of Goring shaking Robert, violently.

This shot isn't to show off my work, but our wonderful set designer, Simon Webb, who created this screen for some lovely shadow work behind it. Here, Robert finds Mrs. Cheevely concealed in Goring's parlour.

I figured, since we've already learned Cheevely's true nature, that I could dress her in a nice whorish red. Christina was the best Barbie _ever_.

Act IV

Dick Pugh was hilarious both as the lecherous Monteford and the deadpan Phipps, here with a salver of buttonholes, although, sadly, not trivial enough.

This suit came from the UBC drama department. It's incredibly detailed without ever seeming overly fussy, and it appealed to me for Mabel.

Daniel Unruh played both the Viscompte de Nanjac and the Chiltern's butler.

It was a bit of a challenge finding distinctive business and casual wear for the men, but Colin does look very handsome in his cutaway.

And, at the end, all is happily resolved.

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