Arwen's Chase Outfit
Chase Outfit (v5.1 November, 2004)
In a chase scene far superior to any recent car chases, Arwen outraces the Ring Wraiths while carrying the wounded Frodo. The grey skirts and sash fly in the wind as she outraces the evil striving to reach the ford... and the safety of elven land.
Arwen's Chase Outfit Index
Her dove gray outfit is mostly seen from far away or as extreme close ups. Descriptions are based on exhaustive watching of the DVD; display photos; behind-the-scene shots; as well as looking at the 6” toy which gives us some amazing details.
This outfit is possibly the most complex of all those she wears in the three films.- and there are many! Ngila said that it was important to show Arwen's empathy with the human world, thus her first outfit is an Elven version of a human riding outfit, both practical and magical at the same time. The coat/dress is made of a fine dove-gray suede. The swatch of the suede at the traveling exhibit was very thin – about 1/16th of an inch thick. On the dress, every piece looked a little different than its neighbor in apparent thickness and direction of the “knap” of the suede.
The sleeves features Elven patterns drawn into the sleeve head. The front is adorned with an enormous ornate silver buckle, and features fine silk sashes laced down the front and gathering the back of the coat.
The bodice is princess seamed, the side seams extend up to the shoulder seams rather than curving in at the sides of the bust.
The open collar is not especially wide in front. The collar is one piece with the bodice panels. Each side appears to curve out slightly from the center front and comes to a soft point. The collar appears fairly straight across the top. We think there is a seam up the back. At the back, the collar stands about 2 inches (maybe a little more) above the base of the neck. It is a continuous rolled collar.
There is a textured lace overlay on the top side of the collar. The threads are gray, roughly the same shade as the suede, and are shiny. The strands of the lace are very rounded with a lot of dimensionality, so the stitching may be formed over some sort of narrow cord. No obvious core was visible in the swatch, however. If cording was used underneath the stitching, it does not appear to cross over itself since the thickness does not change at intersections. . *See our page on Making the Collar for details.
The pattern is very free form, mostly angular shapes, but some s-curves thrown in. There were a few cells that looked to be about an inch across in their longest dimension, but most were smaller - around 1/2 inch in diameter.
The lace is sewn into the seam between the center front pieces and the collar facing. The lace continues all the way around the inside back of the collar and as far inside the front of the bodice as can be seen on the mannequin - probably covering the whole of the collar facing, however wide that is.
The waistline tapers down some three inches below the natural waist in a point. The back waist is also tapered down, to a point. The extra fullness in the bodice is gathered at the back with sashes.
The front has false lacing. It actually fastens at the front. The front is open to a couple of inches below collarbone level. The front is most likely closed with an invisible zipper (probably with a top hook). There is no topstitching. (We know they are present in some of Galadriel's dresses. If it is hook and eye, it's very well hidden. The strenuousness of the chase scene would be better suited for something that would not pop open. Either way the fastening is completely invisible from the front.)
The back has a sash that pulls in the extra fullness.
There is a small overlapping sleeve cap on the shoulder, similar to some leather jackets, and presumably giving extra ease for movement.
Due to the need for facings when using an invisible fastening, and recommended for comfort, since she is not wearing much, if anything, underneath - it is assumed that the bodice is fully lined. This can be seen in the chase at one point when the outfit rides up and you can see a small triangle of skin above the riding trousers.
The Bodice front is decorated by a fine silk sash of a dark purple-grey colour that is laced between loops that are inserted into the princess seams from below the bust to the bodice base. This lacing does not size the dress. It is just their for detailing. The fine fabric is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide but because it is so fine a silk, it threads though with no problem.
The edges look rolled and the ends look unfinished. These sashes do not appear to be as wide at the ends as the back sashes. Front sashes are perhaps one-half the width of the back sashes, and don’t come down nearly as far.
The sash fabric is at least a shade darker than that of the underskirts and has a distinct purple cast compared to everything else on the dress. Note the silk does show up a bit purple in the movie as well, but the DVD narration says "light grey".
There are three pairs of loops.
Where the sash ties at the base it is attached somehow to the belt buckle, threads through it, and trails down the front of the dress to the level of the underskirts.
The back of the coat has a silk sash the same color as the lacings. There are two oblong patches at the princess seams that attach the sash to the back of the bodice at the natural waist level. (Thing about how vests are adjusted for size with the little back ties. This is the same, but larger.) However, instead of lacing like the front, this is two pieces, tie together to gather in the extra fullness in the dress. This gives the 'pleated' effect we had noticed before the DVD came out.
The back laces extend almost to the ground.
The back sashes lie almost completely over the center back waist seam, obscuring all but a tiny bit of it - just enough to tell that the seam comes to a point a few inches below side waist seams, as in the front.
Edges are finished by turning over twice, no more than 1/4th inch each time, and securing with fairly long straight stitches close to the inner (first fold) edge. The ends of the sashes are finished in the same manner. Sashes are sewn directly into back princess seams and are folded lengthwise at this point. The folded edge is at the top. The finished lower edges lie right on top of where the princess seams abut the waist seam. The folded top edges lie at the seventh baseball stitch up from the waist seam. There are wrinkles running lengthwise along the sashes from the princess seams to the knot, so the sashes are slightly gathered in the seams. The sashes are about 5 inches wide where unfolded.
Arwen's sleeves are two piece construction that is common for Elvish design. They consist of a tight and fitted top section that is higher on the inside arm and extends just below the elbow at the outer edge. However, they are a lot more complex than that
The lower part of the sleeve is a petal shaped panel that is open from the inner elbow, and falls loosely away from the back of the forearm. It extends don two or three inches beyond her fingertips when her arms are down. The lower sleeve is overlapped a fraction where it attaches - outside over inside.
The sleeve is not directly set in, but has a small sleevecap over the inset sleevehead.
The seam where the upper and lower sleeves join is a spiral, beginning in the seam under the arm where the upper sleeve joins to itself to form a tube (this underarm seam does not extend lower than the point where the lower sleeve is sewn into it.) The spiral seam curves down around the front and side to its lowest point in the back. Then it curves up gently as it continues around to the front again as the lower sleeve passes behind itself.
The point where the lower sleeve begins in the underarm seam is quite a ways above where it again passes under the arm after spiraling around. In this gap, the upper sleeve can be seen extending around behind the lower sleeve in the front.
Therefore, in the front, the upper sleeve extends both above and below the spiral seam with the top edge of the lower sleeve sandwiched between. The upper sleeve must have an extension on the edge that meets the underarm seam from the back. This extension is what the lower sleeve hangs from where it crosses behind itself. The extension must be sewn into the spiral seam around the front and it probably tapers off with the lower sleeve, the two ending somewhere in the seam, perhaps around the side.
The design on the upper sleeves is done in VERY fine, narrow lines and looks painted/drawn/printed, not embroidered. Overall, the design is neither very prominent in appearance, nor very large on the upper sleeve piece. (See left sleeve side view for position and proportional size of design.)
Note, at other times it has been mentioned that this design is etched into the leather or embroidered... The version that we see on the traveling exhibit is just painted on. we know there is more than one version of this outfit, so we do not know if the others also are just drawn.
(The design is the one that was originally designed for her quiver - in Art of FOTR). It is very subtle and difficult to see in some shots.
The undersleeves are of a silver and cream finely pleated or crinkled silk, possibly with metallic threads. It is possibly the same fabric as the underdress in the Angel dress. The undersleeves are bell-shaped, possibly finely gathered to hold the pleats instead of being cut with a flare. They extend to about knuckle length.
Edges are not hemmed nor are they the selvage, but are simply raw with some sort of fraycheck, glue, acrylic medium, etc. keeping them from unraveling. Looking through backlit portions of the sleeves from the sides and underneath, you can see the narrow, uneven band around the edge where the fabric has been saturated with something to keep the threads in place.
The silk is connected directly to the outer dress at the seam where the two parts of the outer seam are joined. (This can be seen in the behind the scenes shot where the gloves are being laced.) In fact, the gloves may be hand tacked to the top of the sleeve for each shoot.
Link to the sleeve fabric from Thai Silks:
Crinkle Lurex Organza, 36" - ivory/metallic silver.
The Overskirt is the same gray suede as the bodice. It consists of four separate panels, each cut from a single hide.
The front panels curve softly upwards and meet at the centre front of the dress above the knee.
At the sides, the front panels overlap the back panels by about one and a half inches. The bottom edge is straight but the corner are just slightly curved.
The back panels of the dress appear slightly more flared than the front, from the way they drape. Except for the front, all the rest of the corners are of the skirt bottom are square cut.
The skirt panels are sewn directly to the bottom of the bodice.
The underskirts are a fine silk in a very light grey colour. Due to grading in the film and poor lighting at the exhibits, we're not sure which color exactly it is. The DVD commentary describes it as "light grey". It does show up as grayish-purple in the film. The sample swatch of the silk on the exhibit looks a little purplish compared to the suede swatch, although the skirts on the dress just look gray - *maybe* slightly lavender in comparison to the leather, but only slightly. The silk may have been given a wash in weak purple dye, but this could also be a matter of the light-reflectance quality of the silk as opposed to that of the leather.
There are only two pieces in the underskirt, or at least we're pretty sure.
Each side is one piece, comprised of two pieces of silk sewn together. In some scenes in the DVD there is a side seam visible in the billowing underskirts). (There may be darks shaping these pieces as well, but it's very hard to tell.) The silk skirts could be shaped like this without darts.
The front of each panel is curved upwards to give the characteristic petal shape.
The edges of silk underskirts appear to be serged. (The shiny threads of the collar lace swatch also look purplish in next to the suede.)
At the sides, the underskirts appear to end about two inches above the anklebones. Each side hangs a good three or four inches below the suede overskirt.
There are a great many folds and undulations of fabric in the underskirt when observed at eye level, so these skirt panels must be very full - what allows them to billow and whip every-which-way when she rides - definitely fuller than the overskirt.
The curve of the underskirt panels in the front looks steeper than on the suede overskirt panels, as the distance from the edge of the suede to the hem of the silk decreases as the panels curve up towards the center front. This may be a matter of how the skirts hang, rather than a shape issue, but it could be both.
It is assumed that the underskirt is attached the same as the overskirt - directly to the base of the bodice.
There is still a debate on whether the fabric is habotai or chiffon. It's hard to get a good look at the skirts
We only see one behind the scenes shot showing the ridding trousers. In the horse contraption pictures, we see plum leggings. (Definition of leggings, basically stretch pants or thick tights cut off at the ankle.) The toy shows more of a riding trouser.
Arwen wears a buckle on the front lacing, described in Art of FOTR as 'a huge ornate silver buckle'.
Read our step by step instructions on making the belt buckle out of sculpy.
In this scene, Arwen wears her hair in three herringbone braids, not two, as shown by the toy. They appear to be held in place by the same techniques used in a French braid, by adding small sections of hair as they go down the back of the head.
Small tendrils of hair in front of each ear are left free and trail down the front, while the hair from about ear level and below is left loose.
Arwen wears the Evenstar in this scene. See our separate page on Evenstar.
Many folks contributed to this section. Main editors: Naomi, Judy, Cat and Rhiannon. Main art by Naomi, Niki and Rhiannon.
This page was last updated 04/22/08