The Fifth Element is one of my favorite movies of all time and while other fans of the movie tend to do LeeLoo as their costume, I chose the more challenging costume of the Diva Plavalaguna. This is a costume few people will ever do because of the design challenges but if you bunker down and put solid work into it, you will end up with a costume that not only you will love but so will everyone who sees it
Step 1: What You'll Need
- polyfill stuffing
- glue gun
- sewing machine
- knitting needles
- electrical tape
- sew on snaps
- mold-able wire
- poster board (thin)
- hair dryer
- blue and black paint
- gardening knee pads
Step 2: The Dress
Now this can potentially be either the easiest or most challenging part of the costume. Here are your options for making the basic dress.
1) Hand make the dress from scratch using light weight, breathable fabric with the help of a good sewing machine and a dress pattern
2) Buy an already made dress the same color and style as the Diva's dress
3) Use either a zentai suit with added skirt or a bodysuit with skirt combo
For my costume, the initial idea was to build onto an existing dress. The problem with that was finding a dress of the right style & color not to mention how hot the dress would have become had we added the right color fabric over top of the dress. Always remember to keep your costumes comfortable and functional. As this costume dress extends to your wrists, down to the floor and right to your neck, you want it to be as cool as possible.
When making the dress, be sure the fabric is strong enough to support a little weight (I'll explain why later) and that you leave a large flare out at the base of the skirt with a narrow channel. Through this little channel, you will be feeding the mold-able wire. Once the wire is secured within the dress (be sure to secure both ends of the wire to eachother before sewing the channel closed), you can then proceed to bend the wire into the waves featured in the costume's skirt. Unfortunately the wire I used didn't hold it's shape long after wandering through a busy Comic Con (and being bumped into by many people) so try a few options.
Step 3: The Headpiece
This was actually my favorite part of making this costume. It looks difficult but you'll be surprised how easy it is. This is where you will use your fosshape, polyfill and hairdryer.
1) Measure your head using a fabric measuring tape
2) Take half the length of your head's circumference and create a drawing of what you'd like the headpiece to look like on a piece of thin poster board. Cut the shape out
3) Trace the pattern onto two pieces of fosshape and cut them out
4) Sew both shapes together and stuff the headpiece full of polyfill except near the very bottom of the piece (the part that will be around your forehead)
5) Using a hairdryer set on warm, slowly heat the fosshape headpiece until it begins to firm up. Be careful not to put the hairdryer nozzle too close to the fosshape or you might burn it. The fosshape will still be flexible even once it's hardened.
6) Remove the polyfill except from the very end of the headpiece's curl (this will give the headpiece good natural bounce)
7) Try on the headpiece and adjust how it fits on your head by re-sewing the unhardened part of the headpiece near your forehead. If you do this, you won't need anything else to hold it onto your head
8) Paint the headpiece and allow it to dry.
9) Once the headpiece is dry, you can then begin attaching the detailing (the head straps and the tentacles). The tentacles were made by creating hollow tubes of fabric and stuffing them with polyfill with the help of a knitting needle. They were then sewed to a strip of black fabric that was in turn sewed to the headpiece. The additional black head straps were made with black electrical tape
Step 4: The Detailing
There are a few more details that need to be done to this costume to make it look polished, mainly the neckpiece. here's how you do it.
1) Cut an oval piece of leather or leather-like fabric to make the neck piece collar. Cut a whole in the center for where your head will go and then cut a slit through from the edge to the center so you have a way to take off the collar without pulling it over your head. Attach black velcro strips to the edges for an easy way to secure the collar to itself
2) To add detailing to the collar, you have two options. Either cut out shapes out of the same type of fabric and attach them using a glue gun or paint the detailing on using puffy fabric paint. DON'T SKIP THIS STEP. The costume will look dull without the added detailing
3) On the underside of the collar, attach one half of the sew on snaps all the way around the collar. The matching snap piece will be sewn onto the dress to hold everything together
4) On the back of the collar, you will need to create the spine which has the other tentacles hanging from it. These were created by layering several gardening knee pads and painting them black. They are extremely lightweight and padded so they not only looked awesome, but were easy to attach the tentacles to (For those who have already forgotten how to make the tentacles, see step 2)
5) Once you've attached the spine to the collar (heavy duty velcro works really well here), place one half of some velcro strips on the underside of the spine. From here, you will sew the other half of the velcro to the back of your dress so you can attach everything together
6) Be sure not to forget to add the ways of fastening the collar and spine to the dress. It may not be heavy but these pieces will pull on your neck if not secured properly so save yourself the neck pain and follow this step to the letter
7) I also added two little pads of fabric to the dress' hips to match with the costume from the movie. I'm sure no one will begrudge you that if you skip this step but devout Fifth Element fans will appreciate the extra attention to detail
AND THAT'S IT! A relatively easy Fifth Element costume of the impressive Plavalaguna