Monday, April 16, 2012

Londo Mollari

Character: Ambassador Londo Mollari
From: Babylon 5
Made: 2008
Awards: Part of a skit that won Judges' Choice in the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con Masquerade

This was definitely not a costume I had ever planned to make, I'll tell you that! My friend Cordelia suggested a skit for the San Diego Comic-Con 2008 Masquerade that involved a bunch of sci-fi characters with big hair. My husband, who's a big Babylon 5 fan, said, "I want to be Londo!", the Centauri ambassador with an impressive sideways mohawk. Video and pictures from the skit are available here.

Anyway, I agreed to make the costume if he handled the wig. (He decided to make the wig bigger than it actually was on the show, to up the silliness factor of the skit.) Londo got a huge cheer from the audience when he first appeared! Still plenty of B5 fans out there. He's also worn the costume without the wig and people still recognized him, which I consider an unqualified success!

San Diego Comic-Con Masquerade 2008


Dragon*Con 2008
(thanks to Maggie and Kathy for the pics!)



Construction

Unlike many sci-fi characters, Londo doesn't wear the exact same outfit all the time. He generally wears some combination of a coat, vest, shirt, neckcloth, pants, and tall boots, not identical, but in similar styles. This meant I had some leeway in the choice of colors and fabrics and didn't have to worry too much about exact matches.

Coat

Londo wears a knee-length mandarin-collared coat that is somewhat cut away in the front. I used Burda 2459 as my basis, extending the center front all the way up to the neck and drawing a new neckline with a decent amount of ease. The front I left all as one piece; I added a waist seam to the back so I could split the skirt up the center back and add a few pleats. I really liked this pattern; it had a good cut and fit. I've tried a lot of commercial men's coat patterns, and this one is my favorite by far.

For the fabric, I chose a wool/nylon flannel blend (80%/20%) from fabric.com; it's thick and squishy, with a nice weight to it. Sadly, they don't seem to sell it anymore. I have no idea how accurate it is with regard to the actual Londo costume; I picked it because the price was right and it was easy to tailor. I had no intention of losing yet another sleeve cap argument with a recalcitrant gabardine.

I used machine tailoring techniques to make the coat, basically following my Singer Tailoring Guide. (I love that book. The pictures look so good I want to eat them.) I bought all my tailoring supplies (shoulder pads, sleeve heads, tailor's canvas) from Sew True. The jacket is fully bag-lined with regular black lining fabric from Jo-Ann.

The trim was a fun challenge. I wasn't going for an exact match, but it was still a little tricky to find the right parts. I started with a weird black rickrack I found locally that had a gold zigzag woven into it. I stitched the rickrack onto 5/8" black grosgrain ribbon. That made it look like there was a gold zigzag down the middle of a black ribbon. Then I stitched a 1/2" textured silver ribbon (also found locally) to either side of the rickrack-black ribbon combo and folded down the edges to make little triangles. I made 12 of those, then hand-stitched them down the front of the coat and on the shoulders. I found some fun gold-and-black jeweled buttons locally and sewed them between the points of the triangles. The same silver ribbon was machine sewn down the center front opening, and the rickrack ribbon and silver ribbon were handsewn around the neck.

The coat closes with a hook and eye at the neck. Rogue found a big costume jewelry ring that works great as a brooch; we just fastened the hook and eye through the actual ring part.

Vest

The vest was also from Burda 2459 (can you tell I love it?). I got the fabric from my friend Avien, who had it in her stash. Rogue's favorite color is deep purple, and since Londo wore all sorts of colors, I figured why not? I drafted a shawl collar onto the pattern, and extended and shaped the vest overlap; Londo had kind of a double-breasted thing going on, but without the buttons. The vest is bag lined in black cotton and closes with snaps. The trim is 1/4" silver ribbon (the same kind as on the coat, just thinner) sewn onto 3/8" black satin ribbon.

Shirt, Pants, Boots, Neckcloth

The shirt is the same one I made for the Will Turner costume-- we just borrowed it from Dan for a bit. The pants are regular black slacks. The boots are from his Han Solo costume, and the neckcloth is a red poly charmeuse from the remnant bin at Jo-Ann.

Headpiece-Wig-Hair-Thingy

Well, I didn't make the wig, so I can't give you too many details. I can tell you that it involved a plastic headband, wire coat hangers, hot glue, a lot of fake hair, a cheap short-haired wig, construction paper, spraypaint, and pain. Oh, and a good-quality bald cap. DO NOT SKIMP ON BALD CAP QUALITY. You will regret it and cry many, many tears.

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