Dawn's Costume Guide

Return of the King Costumes

In July 2004 I had an opportunity to view some of the costumes from the movie 'Return of the King' and to take notes and photographs of those costumes. While I have not had time to recreate these costumes myself, I have observed some details which should make it easier for the rest of you to make accurate copies.

Arwen's Coronation Dress

This is the green velvet dress worn by the Arwen character near the end of the movie.

This dress is clearly made in two pieces. There is a medium dark green embroidered brocade underdress with sleeves and a lighter green sleeveless overdress with trim along the neckline. This darker green fabric is so heavily embroidered that it 'reads' as pale green in photographs. People have also mistaken this for a lace overlay. It looks to me as if the embroidered part ends just below the bust/armpit and the remainder of the underdress is a plain white fabric, I could see a tiny amount of white just under the arms.

On the underdress the entire area of the upper bust, shoulders and upper sleeves was machine embroidered in white chainstitch-- it looked as if the fabric was manufactured that way-- and further embellished with pearls and bugle beads on the visible surfaces. The neckline of the overdress is finished with a 1/2 to 3/4 band of a different green material than what is used on the underdress. It is a stylized floral woven metallic fabric in dark green and silver, it reminds me of the kind of edging you see on Indian saris. The bottom edge of the trim is edged with silver braid and bugle beads.

The dress hung on the mannekin so that it was about 1" longer than the floor. I don't know how long it was on the actress. There was about a 2ft train in the back of the dress.

The front of the dress is cut flat, there are no seams of any kind, and it is certainly not princess cut. The only seams are on the side and in the center back. From what I could see of how the fabric hung it looked as if the side seams flared from under the arm and went at an angle out to the hem. There appeared to be some bias sagging, and the front hem was noticeably several feet wide.

The green fabric appeared to be either a very thin silk velvet, or possibly a synthetic. It may even have been some sort of velor. Hard to tell without being able to touch it. I could almost see through the fabric. The edges of the skirt and sleeves were finished with a very fine, narrow serging the same color as the fabric.

In the back the dress closes with a hidden zipper. The two layers of the dress are more apparent from the back. I could also see that some fitting was done in the back seam to give the dress more shape around the body. I suspect that the side seams are also shaped, but I could not see this due to the way the mannekin was posed.

The sleeves are really the main feature of this dress. There is much detail that never shows on the photographs. The upper part of the sleeve is narrow and fitted to the arm. The lower part of the sleeve is made of the same light green fabric as the overdress, and the seam is above the elbow. There is a 2 inch band of applied beadwork and metal braid trim just above the elbow seam.

The sleeves are cut as a 3/4 circle with the seam just on the inside of the arm. I would say the back part of the sleeve hangs about 4 feet from the elbow and ends about 8" from the floor. The shorter side of the sleeve was about 20" and worn pushed up the forearm in most scenes. The sleeves are pretty long, but the actress who wore this dress was also pretty tall.

There was a false undersleeve in pale green sheer fabric with a crinkled or pleated texture. It appeared to be a woven metallic fabric and had quite a nice sheen to it. The undersleeve was cut the same way as the velvet oversleeve, but was about 4 inches longer all around. Whether it is really larger or was just arranged that way to be pretty, I can't say.

Aragorn's Coronation Armor

Galadriel's Farewell Outfit

Eowyn's Coronation Dress

Merry & Pippin's Uniforms

Gandalf and Hobbit cutouts

I took this shot because it clearly shows the layers, head to toe, of Galdalf the White's robes. Good pictures of this outfit have been hard for me to find.

All text and artwork copyright 1990 - 2003 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
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