Friday 17 December 2010

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

I can’t believe a year has flown by since I last wished everyone a Happy Christmas.


Looking back though, a lot has happened and I’ve completed or started a number of amazing projects.

From updating my Tennant Coat; making a Five Coat or two; starting a replica Tennant suit jacket using original GAP Trousers; making a couple of Inverness Capes (must get round to writing that up!); as well as some smaller item such as Five Hatbands, Six Cravats and Seven Hankies.
However, I think the most exciting has been starting work on a replica Six Frock Coat, which I am so looking forward to getting done next year.

I hope you’ll join me in the following months as it starts to come together.

Thursday 28 October 2010

New TARDIS in town

Had to share this little piece of weirdness with you.

On my recent London tours, I have taken friends to see the three surviving Police Boxes and Posts around town: the Box at Earls Court (see left); the Post at Picadilly Circus (see below); and the Post at St Martins Le Grande.

But now there is a new Box in town.....

I'm working down in Victoria this week, at an ad agency (those that know the advert, this is the agency that created the CompareTheMeerkat.com campaign!)

My route to work takes me past the Houses of Parliament, as a prefer to come street level at Westminster rather than Victoria as it makes for a easier journey and a more pleasant walk.
Opposite Big Ben, on Parliament Square, is a long standing protest village of anti gulf war protesters. Their camp has intermittently been cleared and rebuilt in an ongoing legal tussle.
While we’re on the subject of Police Boxes and Posts, you might like to take a glance at my guide to all the surviving Posts in London. There’s more than you might think!

Eleven TARDISES
for Eleven Doctors


The latest ‘incarnation’ of the camp includes a rather amusing piece of wit, with one side of a shelter made onto a PUBLIC STRIKE PEACE BOX!

UPDATE
24th Jan 2011


The PEACE BOX made an appearance in the London Evening Standard today, along side an article highlighting their continued defiance to being moved on

Sunday 17 October 2010

Bonhams valuation days

Having attended a number of the Bonhams costume and memorabilia sales lately, especially the dedicated Doctor Who sale, I now seem to be on their mailing list!

Don’t get me wrong – this is a good thing, cos at least I’m being kept up to date with future auctions.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

On The Red Button

This week finally saw the broadcast on BBC Three of the Doctor Who Prom.

It brought back some great memories of two really fantastic performances. I was SO pleased I had got along – and to both of them as well!

Just as I arrived for the Saturday performance I was pounced on my a young girl reporter with a cameraman in tow. I guess it was because I was in full Ten outfit!
She asked me about my costume, as well as my expectations for the Prom. I said I had been last time by the skin of my teeth, so I wasn’t missing out this time, and had been on the internet to buy my tickets the moment they were release.

I kinda hope it was be for the screening or a DVD extra . . .

Saturday 28 August 2010

Invasion of the Aussies

A long term client of mine, Ian Cummins, was in town this week.

He’d been on a bit of a world tour, flitting between the UK, Ireland and the US, inspired by his need to attend a family wedding in Ireland.

In the course of his trip he’s been to the UK, Ireland, over to America, and now back to the UK.

Knowing he’d be around at some point I extended an open invitation to meet up if he had a free day.

Over this past weekend I had a message from him that he was gonna be in London for Monday, and if I was around we could finally meet.
Annoyingly I was still on a placement at a trendy advertising agency on Tottenham Court Road, so I wasn’t free that day, but I suggested we could do lunch if he could be around at 1pm.

I suggested we meet outside the Dominion Tottenham Court Road, which is a good meeting point in the area.
I have often noticed slightly vacant looking tourists standing around outside there, so have assumed they were also waiting for meeting colleagues to arrive!
The dominion is notable at the moment for being where We Will Rock You is running, a stage musical based on the songs of Queen. It’s easy to spot, as it has a near 30-foot high statue of Freddy Mercury outside (see right). “Look out for that!” I told him, “You can’t miss it!”

I broke for lunch as planned at 1pm and headed down to meet him and to be as conspicuous as I could be I wore my Ten Coat, hoping he’d spot it.
As I walked down the road I spied a familiar face, a good hundred yards or so from where we were supposed to meet. “Ian?”, I said. “Yes?” That was lucky – we’d have been standing around wait for each other for ages!

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Revenge of Les Random Shoes

This is another one of my delayed entires.

I should have posted this at least a week back, but due to my vertigo attack, I was unable to finish writing it.
Here it is at last.
Here is the list of my week:
Today les boot was on the other foot, so to speak.

Back in March I went on a day trip to Paris to see the locations used in City Of Death. This weekend I returned the favour and gave a guided tour of London to Jonathan, the tour guide I had in Paris. All this ironically only two days after attending a guide tour of Cardiff myself!

I had organized a two-day tour back in February for my friend Bob Mitsch while he was over here for the Time Quest 2 event, so I have a good idea of where to go and what to see, though I have a couple of special requests to include as well.

Now, as much as I’m pleased to see Jonathan again, today wasn’t really the best day to choose for this by any means: I have had a manic week which included a Bonhams Auction, a trip to Cardiff, as well as my birthday! - AND tonight it’s Matt Smith’s season finale - and I’m afraid I fully intend to be home for that regardless!

Anyway, Jonathan and his brother had bought their EuroStar tickets before telling me the date, and since they are non-refundable and non-transferable, the day will have to happen as they need, though not as long as planned and I will have to head home by 5pm in time for the episode.

I met them bright and early off the 8:30 train at St Pancras, which was thankfully on time. Our day was pretty packed, so we heading straight off for our first location: an old traditional greasy spoon cafe on the Farringdon Road. So what Doctor Who story was this in?

Well, none actually, but one thing on Jonathan’s checklist was to have a typical English breakfast, which he thought was beans on toast. Now I’ve never had that as a breakfast myself (maybe an afternoon filler or a lazy dinner), and I know of no-one does.
So we had a full English breakfast instead – a real artery-clogger (see left)!

From here we walked to St martin Le Grand, to see the first of the two surviving original period Police Posts in London. It hasn’t been in commission for many years, but it’s great that it has been kept as a reminder of times past (see right).

Thursday 10 June 2010

What to wear?

Coming up later this year are no less than TWO official Doctor Who events.

Firstly there is the BBC Promo concert on 24th and 25th July at the Royal Albert Hall.
After just managing to scrape in to the last Doctor Who Prom a couple of years back (see below), I plan to be a bit more organised this time around.


I was a bit more savvy and was on the website the day of the launch and sat patiently as my chance to buy tickets came up. Internet traffic was so high you were held in a queue until you could submit your order. I started at number 1,250 or so in the queue, and watched as I slowly got to the top! As the numbers ticked down I was terrified my browser would crash or something would go wrong, but luckily everything worked.

To hedge my bets I applied for tickets for both days: the Saturday evening and the Sunday morning performance. That way I thought if one sold out before I could buy tickets, at least I might get the other.

As it happened I managed to get both – and fully intend to go to both!

Last time I enjoyed the Prom SO much I really had wished I could have gone again, so this time round I will get my wish!

Friday 2 April 2010

The Pyramids Of Paris

After months of planning and arranging, finally the City Of Death guided tour was ready to make a start!
Jonathan had invited me back in January, and before the end of the month I had bought my tickets.

He had planned the tour out to make sure we visited as many of the locations used as possible.
Count Scarlioni’s Chateau
47 Rue Vieille du Temple
First up was Scarlioni’s Chateau, which is number 47, Rue Ville du Temple, not far from where we had all met up.

As we approached I could see the grey stone walling and the imposing, intricately carved wooden doors. It was certainly one of those locations that looks exactly as it appears on screen, and as big and as impressive as you imagined. (Sometimes a location fails to meet expectation, when you find it faces some unattractive view, or has been made to appear larger by use of wide-angle lenses – or is it just me?)

Jonathan explained that the location is far from what it appears, and is not a chateau, though it is very large. I gather it has at some point been a restaurant.
One thing I was keen to see was the skylight window that often follow an establishing shot of the wall and doors. The doctorwholocations.net website does not show this, and I wondered if it had been filmed elsewhere and its location wasn’t known. But sure enough it was right above the door to the left. It would appear there is a courtyard of some sort behind the doors, around which the house is set.

I took my screen-matching photos and it was a good location for all of us to get the first group shot – and what location to take it!


Sunday 28 March 2010

Les Random Shoes

Well today I am up at the crack of dawn – actually even earlier – it’s 4am!

I am off to Paris for a special one-day event at the invitation of Jonathan Le Targat, who co-runs a French Who fansite called gallifrance.free.fr.

A funny series of events have got me to Paris.

Jonathan contacted back in November to enquire about buying a Seven Hanky. I sent him the details and he was very impressed with what I was doing.
He then said he wanted to ‘partnership’ my hanky with his website – he said his English was not very good – but let’s be fair, his English is much better than my French!

What he was offering was to advertise my hankies on his site so that his members could get access to classic series replica props and costumes. At least, this would happen when the site was revamped and up and running.
Basically, if I could supply some images and a written text about them, he would translate it and add it to the site.

I was more than happy to oblige and received some free publicity in the process.
In return Jonathan wrote a review of the hanky he bought, and you can read that in my Customer Review page.

Then just after the new year he contacted me again, this time talking of giving me a special members card, which would give me access to future paid events for free. I didn’t quite know what he meant, but he was asking for a photograph of myself to go on this card.
I dug out a picture of me at Crich, posing with the original Police Box they have there, and he was most impressed! (see right)
He later explained that I was a special member of their association – I guess a sort of honorary member. I was very flattered.

Friday 26 March 2010

The Photos Of Peril

For those who read my earlier entry, All Change, you will know I have radically shaken up the fabrics I am using to make my latest Tennant Coat.

Although I am still using my fabric of choice – Malabar – I have found a much better colour match to the screen used material, which in reality is a lot darker than you might think.

Anyone who has engaged me in conversation about the fabric for my coats will know how much I love Malabar!
My reasoning is because it has a very natural feel to it defying its 100% polyester label; has a luxurious weight; drapes just right when made into a coat; is tough and hard wearing; washable at 30degrees; and is a nice material to actually cut, handle and stitch.
So to find a better colour and still be Malabar was fantastic bonus.

I have been plotting and working on my newest coat since just before Christmas, when a friend pointed me towards the Self-Striped lining on sale at a store in Los Angeles. Later I did a coat for Benjamin Rudman, and he specifically wanted this to be used for his coat (see right). The results were very nice and I had to admit the new lining handled a lot better than the heavy satin twill I had been using to date.

I think it was the idea of making myself a new coat using the more screen-accurate lining that made me take a second look at other fabrics I could revise.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was planning to go to the Time Quest 2 event, so I had an incentive to get my new coat done in time for this.
Besides, I had recently sold my then current coat to Roland (see left) in anticipation of making a new coat, so for a brief period I did not own a Tennant Coat I could wear – at least not one I actually liked.
I might explain that comment at some future time.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Customer review - Ian Cummins take 2

Ian has already commissioned a coat from me, and he wrote a review you can read here:
Customer review - Ian Cummins
But he had to commission another one . . .  here’s why.
The story so far ...

I commissioned Steve in July of 2009 to make me a Tennant Coat, the details of which can be found in another review I wrote which appears on his blog. Needless to say, that particular coat exceeded my expectations, as did Steve's customer service. Often when you’re parting with wads of cash to enter into some mail order type transaction, the potential for disaster can be quite considerable. And, often, your fears are fairly well-founded, like when you order the Dark Knight cape and cowl, so you can sweep through the icy night, gazing at the glittering city below from atop churches, your night-black cape whipping against the stars... and you get something made of party hat plastic with a hair-thin piece of elastic stapled to it to keep it precariously perched on your nose. As many of you who read my initial review of my first Steve Ricks Tennant coat can attest, this certainly wasn’t the case with that particular garment.

There was, however, one tiny issue with the coat, which many people would have been happy to overlook, or possibly not have even noticed at all. But to a psychotic perfectionist like myself, it was an insurmountable problem. The hem was about three inches too short. (cue dramatic musical sting ... Da-da-da ... DUUUUUUUUMMMM!!!) I know, I know, who cares, right?

Well, me.

To me, one of the primary features of this coat is the very fact that it's ankle length, which is a rarity in any off-the-rack coat. And three inches makes all the difference (I never believed my partner when she said that, until now). I should reiterate though, that this had nothing whatsoever to do with Steve, his skill as a tailor, or his communication. It was squarely on my shoulders, as I had miscalculated the length of the hem. By THREE INCHES!!! I had supplied Steve with the numbers, and he had cut the coat to exactly what I had asked for.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

All change!

I make no bones about it – I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist.
If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right!

Now, I am also a realist.
That means that sometimes, just sometimes, you have to compromise and use an alternative if the goal you are aiming for is truly unobtainable, or just not justifiable on a budget. But it has to be a good alternative.

But occasionally, even finding the perfect materials can be double-edged sword, especially when it does not live up to expectation.

The Alcantara is a case in point.
Ever since the costume design display at the Earl’s Court exhibition last year, a hand-written note (see right) caused a frenzy of forum activity, and the hunt was on to find out what it meant, and ultimately track down the fabric the coat was made from.

I hunted high and low, and despite the main Alcantara range being easy to find, it lacked the colour needed, and just lacked the texture and feel of the coat I had seen at Earl’s Court.

Ultimately I did find a range from Alcantara that is a good match and I got a swatch to take along to compare to the coat on display (see left).

Under the rules of if it seems easy, it’s not, the fabric soon proved to be from a discontinued range, with no supplies in the UK, so I had to import it across Europe at enormous expense, bringing the cost to over £75 a metre. Ouch!

Monday 1 March 2010

Customer review - Roland

So, another happy costumer who has no idea what he can write about Steve’s gorgeous work that has not been said already. So I’ve dicided to have a look back at how I came to buy one of his coats at all.

I’m from Germany and Doctor Who is almost unheared of here. The 2005 Series ran in television two years ago but with very little success and was cancelled very fast. Still I watched some episodes and liked it quite a lot. When David Tennant took over from Christopher Eccleston, I found that rather strange (having no idea about this whole regeneration stuff) and I gave up on the series. Quite a mistake, as I found out a few month later, when I remembered the show and gave it another try. I really liked Tennants Doctor and what very soon cought my eye was the Doctors new look. This long, smoothly flowing coat did just look amazing and worked just well with a suit. I always liked long coats, but never saw anything like this. Everything I’d found before was somehow looking like from an old Western and that was just not the thing.

So, after seeing that coat on Tennant I kept looking for anything like it in the shops, but, of course, there was nothing there. I had never been into cosplay so not knowing where else to look I considered google and ended up with the obvious sites. Magnoli was the first thing I found, but at that time spending such a fortune on a piece of clothing seemed rather ridiculous. Besides, the pictures of the Magoli Coat didn’t make me want it that much, it looks way to stiff, the colour didn’t seem right and after looking at some costumer images i was sure that this was not it.

Next place to go was ebay, and drawn in by the cheap price I ended up ordering a coat there form the seller tssy2005. Those people were nice enough and the coat arrived quite soon. It does look ok, considering the price, but it was nowhere near the real deal (see right). Just to start, the lining was black and it didn’t really fit around the shoulders (which was probably my mistake in measuring).

Friday 26 February 2010

Bonhams costume sale - viewing

Well this week was the latest Doctor Who sale at Bonhams, and on Sunday I went along to the viewing. The write-up below features the Tenth Doctor items, and I have written about the other Doctor eras under the appropriate blog.

I had arranged to meet a couple of friends, who had been to visit me a few weeks back so I could pattern trace their screen-used Colin Baker Costume. They were at the auction with the serious intention of bidding on some items. I won’t divulge what, as that would be telling, but suffice to say it does not clash with anything I have my own eye on! Phew!


The main thing I wanted to have a look at were the Doctor’s ties, which were in a glass display case (see right), just along from Sylvester McCoy’s hat with hatbands, something else I have my eye on.

Below this were the ties including the TimeLord tie that Magnoli has copied – twice now! Knowing the tie was there I took advantage of the opportunity to compare and see how close the copies were.



Firstly the original printed tie, which although a good effort, is clearly very off from the real thing (see below, left).

Monday 15 February 2010

Customer review - Benjamin Rudman

I have no idea what I can possibly say about Steve Ricks’ Tennant Coat, that hasnĘ»t already been said. But I shall certainly give it a go!

I have always been a big fan of unique clothing. Whenever you recall a lovable or popular TV character, they always wear such unique designs rather than off the peg, mass produced items. And it’s part of this that makes them stand out and helps us remember them. We like this so much we often want to dress like them ourselves! This is something I have always tried to dress by. I have always wanted things people couldn’t have in order to feel unique, and have thus searched endlessly to find these things!

One thing I have found myself partial too is long coats. People rarely wear them outside of the movies these days and I adore them. The trick was finding one that seemed just right. In my house I have a few long coats, that I have found over the years from thrift stores. And though these items are different than that of which is sold now. I have never found my perfect coat. The coat I would wear all the time. My second skin. That, was until I saw the tenth Doctor throw on his overcoat in The Christmas Invasion! It was perfect! The lapels and length, though different, were exactly what I had in mind. But where would I get this dream coat?

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Bonhams costume sale - 24th February 2010

In a few of weeks time there is another costume sale at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, this time selling off a vast number of items which have featured in the various exhibitions that have been held around the country.

Since I covered the previous auctions at Bonhams on the 16th June 2009 and 16th December 2009, I felt I should do the same for this, but because there are SO many items on offer, I have split them up by Doctor.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Geronimo!

This week marks the start of a new era: Matt Smith as The Doctor.

It also heralds the start of another unintended project of mine – on as you may come to read, I had no desire to begin.

At first glance, the new Doctor’s costume is somewhat arid of reproducible, unique items, so though I find it interesting (but not to my taste) I could see little I to indulge my sewing skills on.

But as time progresses, the off-the-peg costume he wears has become increasingly difficult to track down, and I have been approached by a number of cosplayers asking if I would be looking to replicate the shirt he wears.

My first thoughts were that it was out of my capabilities, having never made a shirt before.
But I hadn’t made trousers before making my Five and Six Trousers, so maybe I just need to learn.

As a coincidence, the set-learning part of my recent college course covered shirt-making, showing me it was actually a little easier than I thought.

So, I’m up for the challenge . . .

You can start to follow my progress on my new blog:

eleventhdoctorcostume.blogspot.com