Hetalia: Axis Powers
Last Updated: 10-18-2013
I made this costume for a Hetalia model UN panel at Mizucon because it was an excuse to make a historically accurate Ancient Greecian costume and I'd been dying for one to float on by.
So I did research. I pulled out my mom's old text books on historical costume and found myself some webpages on the subject and designed myself a doric chiton as historically accurate as I could manage.
I used plain, 100% cotton linen, because this was the new fabric of the age and only the wealthy could afford it. Everyone else wore wool. I softened it with vinegar, because it is a natural fabric softener that would have been available at the time. I hand sewed the edges with an invisible stitch because back then fabric was only made in rectangles as big as they needed it, resulting in 4 edges; no need for hemming. I wanted my edges to look as if they hadn't been sewn, since in Ancient Greece they wouldn't have been.
A himation was a length of cloth wrapped decoratively over a chiton. The wealthier the person, the longer the himation. So I went for a stupidly long himation. I understand now why we don't wear these, anymore. They really don't make for a wide range of movement.
We had mistakenly believed for years that the people of Ancient Greece wore only white or cream. That is wrong. In recent years we have discovered that white or cream was usually worn by men, and that women wore a variety of colors from pale yellows to bright purples, anything that could be made from a natural dye. So I went for a deep, regal blue, which would have been a possible but hard color to make, thereby expensive. Appropriate for Mama Greece.
Ancient Greece was a time for experimenting with metals and dyes, and it was a common practice to edge chitons with both. Dyes were often painted on and metal leaf and dust could be infused into the richest of fabrics, so I hand painted greek keys across the edges in gold.
The earliest styles of chiton were not sewn, as thread wasn't something to waste (Later versions emerged where women's clothing might be sewn down both sides to make a dress, however.) Instead Greeks held their clothing together with what they called fibulae, or what I call a fancy safety pin. I took 12 gauge copper wire to a bench grinder, then used a pair of pliers to make my own.
I couldn't find a necklace that struck me as Ancient Greecian, so I tried to make one. I was only mildly successful. The multi-chain look with a large chain gauge is accurate, but regal jewelery was likely to have medallions with large, single gems in it as well.
The curly-Q permed, falling hair look is popular in movies for Ancient Greecian women, but inaccurate. The popular thing for women of wealth was to have very long hair tied up at the back of the head, with decorative braids, cloth, or jewelry wrapped about the top and base to make a coned shape toward the bun. I happen to have very long hair, so I didn't need a wig (But as it turned out, I actually ran out of hair trying to make the style!) I used my own hair to wrap braids about the top and base and tried to focus the winding toward the top bun. It didn't work out exactly, but I really liked what was managed. If I was going to change anything, I think I might add some cloth for a more accurate look. On the side, the people of Ancient Greece were usually born blond, but liked to dye it darker for fashion. Society hasn't changed, much.
I chose my jewelery based on Plato's theory of the perfect circle being a perfectly beautiful thing. I went for lots of circles. /Lots/ of circles.
Chitons were often wrapped at the waist with a chord. Instead of taping the twisted chord ends to stop them from unraveling, I sealed them with melted wax. Because I'm hardcore.
I went barefoot, because shoes of the time were often pieces of leather tied to the feet with leather chord and the only pair I have are entirely black, thereby didn't match my outfit. ^_~ But historically speaking, even considering the jewelery and dye, shoes were the most expensive part of an outfit, and not everyone could afford to have 15 pairs. It was completely acceptable and commonplace to see even the wealthiest of people wandering barefoot, instead.
I love my Greece. And she's probably miles more accurate than anything Hetalia will come up with when she finally becomes a canon design.
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