the Mask

As I recall, the movie was already out on video when I first got the idea to try re-creating this Jim Carrey character.  I figured I had the body- type and height to carry it off, plus I had some good resources to accomplish it. In one of those instances of synchronicity,  I had the opportunity to get some education in men's tailoring at the time, so I used this project to learn with. It's a good thing, because this wouldn't have come out nearly as well as it did otherwise. However, this costume had to be one of my most expensive and difficult works. I knew I was committed to completing it when I purchased a custom-made fedora for over $100. Yow. Ssssmokin"! Archon 22 - Best In Show
Costume Con 17 Best Recreation
Costume Con 17 Workmanship - Best Tailoring
I certainly made my share of mistakes along the way. There wasn't a zoot suit pattern available back in 1996 . I also didn't know at the time that the jacket was actually a modified frock coat until it was pointed out to me. The pattern I used was not a good one (the Buckaroo Bobbins Gentleman's Frock Coat), so I had to tailor it quite a bit. Only years later did I realize that a man's early 20th-century swallow-tail coat looks even closer to it with the curved tails. Of course now there are at least two very nice patterns by Vogue and Simplicity, thanks to the comeback of Swing music dancing in the late 1990s. (I'm pretty sure that The Mask was a big reason for it's revival). By comparison, the pants were relatively easy. There were two styles of pants used in the film (a minor continuity error), and I chose to make the tuxedo-style pleated pants because they looked better.

I researched the heck out of this, to try to get as accurate a recreation as I could imagine. I managed to contact the movie's Costume Designer, Ha Nguyen and got some details (like the tie and suspenders were bought off the shelf). Unfortunately, by the time I attempted to gather those items, the movie production had been over for 3-4 years. I was extremely lucky to find a shop in town that could still order the tie for me. I've never found the suspenders (I used black ones for the stage), but I still keep hoping to find them some day (see The Office for a closeup of the print pattern). Thanks to Ms. Nguyen, I also found the lining still available from the supplier, International Silks and Woolens, in Los Angeles, California.

I couldn't track down anyone with one of the original sets of the suit, but the Hollywood Wax Museum did have one of the unlined "stunt jackets". And I got lucky again when a life-size standee of The Mask came out some time later at a point when being able to make some measurements without trying to scale up from reference photos. It was from this standee that I discovered the shoes Carrey wore had a Cuban heel. Finally, some very nice folks at New Line Cinema Studios sent me some promotional photos.

International Silks and Woolens also had the yellow wool suiting, but it was something like $18 a yard. In retrospect, I should have bought it. I hand-dyed some 11 yards of a cheaper wool I'd located, but it felted up so thickly as to be unusable (it's still waiting to be used for something). The poly-wool blend fabric I eventually used barely took the yellow enough to be acceptable. Under bright lights, it looked okay.

My facial makeup was not nearly as sophisticated as the movie's. With help and advice from our friend and fellow Guild member Patrick Johnson, I cast my own latex appliances for the cheeks, chin and eyebrow ridges. I used a store-bought bald wig. I ran out of time trying to cast my own dental appliances for the teeth, but wound up making some pretty effective ones out of Sculpey clay.

on stage In competition, my Archon presentation went off much better. Sandy Pettinger applied my makeup and prosthetics. The only thing I was a little disappointed with was the green makeup I had didn't color the flesh colored bald wig to the green tint I would have liked. From the stage, though, it looked pretty good, and the photo looks good, too. The teeth could be seen from the back of the audience, flashing wonderfully, and even shows up on the video. on stage
I was less satisfied with Costume Con 17. I had to apply my own makeup and I'd failed to practice with it. It looked awful because I made several mistakes. One of the major ones was not applying castor oil on the latex appliances first before applying the base. And using the setting powder was a disaster. I was pressed for time, and no one would tell me how bad it looked. Nonetheless, I was given a Workmanship Award for Tailoring and the presentation award Best Recreation - Master.

If I ever do the whole getup again, I'm going to practice putting on all the makeup and use a green bald wig. In the meantime, I've tried to wear the suit when I have the excuse, to get the most out of my investment. After all, this was a 2 year ordeal.

For future costumes that may involve tailoring, I took a suggestion and bought a used tuxedo that fits me pretty well. By taking it apart, I will have a more-or-less custom made pattern.

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