The most magical part of her costume was that it was not constructed of snips, snails and puppy dog tails—It was fabricated mostly from Formica® Brand dECOLeather®. Typically, this richly grained recycled leather brings class and style to commercial interior projects like trendy reception desks and cocktail bars. However, in this instance, the versatile material was used for alternate creative purposes.
Maleficent, the villainess from the Brothers Grimm tale that inspired Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” made her appearance at the International Interior Design Association’s Project Runway 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pa. October 6. The silver screen-themed fashion contest challenged teams of designers, students, and product manufactures to craft costumes using materials that typically apply to commercial interiors.
The Maleficent team was comprised of runway model Cheyenne Fine, an interior architecture major from Chatham University, Christianne McCall, costume seamstress and Formica specifications representative, Kyra Tucker, program director of interior architecture at Chatham University, Suzanne Sekula, also a Chatham professor and interior design student Mark Shorthouse.
“After much deliberation over which movie character to use, we decided to portray Maleficent due to her iconography in the film industry,” Fine said. “Not only is she the villain in Disney's 1959 cartoon, but her character got a revamp in Disney's 2014 “Maleficent,” where the story was told from her perspective. We also felt that Formica® Brand dECOLeather® would lend itself perfectly to Maleficent's iconic attire.”
McCall, an experienced seamstress, used four sheets of 4’ x 8’ Formica dECOLeather Coal 5618 in the Buffalo finish for the majority of the piece. The corset was bedecked with shards of Formica Brand Cassis 6903 to add purple highlights and the back of Maleficent’s cape sparkled with chips of Formica DecoMetal Brushed Aluminum M2022.
According to Tucker, the competition gave the students a taste of what it is like to work on a professional team. “I’d like to think they learned how to work with the products, how to leverage resources from a product rep and also how to navigate their creative contributions in a professional team based setting,” she said.
“It took at least 10 planning meetings and at approximately 40 hours to cut and stitch the material together,” said McCall. “Cheyenne made the horned headpiece and Suzanne crafted the staff. We all worked on this project during our own time.”
Typically, when McCall talks about dECOLeather® Recycled Leather Veneer, she is explaining the advantages of using the durable veneer to interior designers and architects. “You get the look and feel of leather, but it’s a surfacing material that can be used either vertically or horizontally. And, it’s durable and cleanable with soap and water.”
Once the costume was finished, the piece was given an “A+” by the university program director. “Since working in academia, I have developed a fairly unbiased eye and I thought the application of the product was very creative, seeing as we did not use traditional fabric,” Tucker said.
“I was really jazzed up about the collar and how it enhanced the persona of Maleficent. I’m extremely proud of Cheyenne for wearing the heavy costume, enduring hours of hair and make-up and rocking the runway as she did! She performed with such confidence and poise, and represented Chatham University students well.”
Each semester, Chatham University typically has approximately 50 students enrolled in its CIDA accredited Bachelors of Interior Architecture program, 25 in its Masters of Interior Architecture Program and five in its Masters of Science in Interior Architecture program. However, only a select few were picked to work on the project.
After modeling the Maleficent costume in the competition, Fine, has gained a new level of confidence in herself, her school and Formica. “I definitely feel more comfortable with Formica products after working with them for so many months,” she said. “Formica offers a variety of colors, patterns and textures that are unique to the brand and can really change the outcome of a space. The possibilities are endless!”