Located in northwestern Wyoming, Silhouettes is the brainchild of a seamstress with over 50 years of experience in tailoring, flat pattern, & draped design using contemporary & historic methods of building garments & costumes for theatre, anthropological, & performance pursuits.
Beautiful, historically dressed & knowledgeable women depicting 1765-1909 will be available starting April, 2018 to interact with your customers & students. These are professionals who have experience in the performing arts plus years of work in tourism or schools. Cody, WY region & will travel. Contact thru web pages.
Suzi Sellers, Proprietess, is the driving force behind the business. In charge of research, design, & construction, she works with a number of independent subcontractors to provide an entire ensemble including undergarments, main dress, outer wear, and accessories.
Suzi Sellers, Proprietess
Suzi has been sewing since she was 8 years old when she sneaked her grandmother’s 1940 Singer sewing machine to design and make Barbie clothes. By age 10, she was making all her own clothing which incorporated embroidery, handmade lace, and special embellishments.
Performing at an elite level in high school and community theatre, Suzi designed and built costumes and sets for many performers. As a Miss America pageant regional winner, she perfected stage, lighting, and costume techniques for “Leading Lady” local performances.
Suzi earned a degree in Theatre Design/Technology, “Costume Emphasis” from the University of Illinois (UIUC), where she was honored to be selected by Japanese Masters to build key costumes for Kabuki, plus German designers sewing the leading characters. At this time she also learned how many hours it takes to sew the ruffles on an 1893 “9 Yard Petticoat”.
Determining costume design did not appear to be a lucrative profession, Suzi jumped to her other college degrees of Landscape Architecture and Coaching for the next 30 years for income. She kept her sewing and design skills strong by forcing her children to wear crazy costumes and leading “Odyssey of the Mind” and Cub Scouts in acting, writing, and designing projects. She designed hundreds of shirts graphics for organizations through the years, as well as bridal & formal wear.
A summer job working with anthropologists as a docent at an 1885 living history farm in the Chicago area in 2001 opened Suzi’s eyes to the world of historical theatrical costume interpretation. There she learned how to research and apply the theatrical techniques she knew, to historic pattern making, materials, and methods. Living in full Victorian garb in 100 degree Illinois humidity, and finding it to be more comfortable than anything she’d ever worn, became a turning point, and the beginning of an idea to share the EXPERIENCE of historical costuming with others.
It was after a medical set back due to a tick bite, plus a move to beautiful northwestern Wyoming with her husband’s retirement, that brought Suzi to Silhouettes. Presently working at the Cody Chamber Visitor Center, she not only helps French and English speaking tourists, but also associates with the many re-enactors and performers of the area.
Embarrassed one day that she had “only modern things to wear” when a coworker came to work during the classy Cody “Buffalo Bill Art show” in gorgeous 1900’s cowboy ensemble, and also impressed with a friend’s fur and leather work displayed in that show, Suzi started thinking “I could do that”. The “aha” moment came though, when a storyteller friend needed someone to sew an authentic costume.
Suzi has had many concurrent careers including professional photography, graphic & web design, printing, landscape design/build, and coaching/teaching. She particularly enjoys the photographic staging of her costume projects, but all of her skills benefit the Silhouettes process in some way. Period sketches on print and web are her original drawings, and she does all her own web design, formatting, writing, and blogging.
Designer & contractor for the lovely Silhouettes Shoppe located next to the beautiful babbling Bennett Creek in historic Clark, Wyoming, Suzi has built not only a workshop, but a “vacation destination”. She has gathered all her experiences into one basket, to the benefit of those wanting a full historic experience working with a personal tailor.
“The authentic costume helped me get into character. I was playing a gaudy ‘new money’ reporter, and that’s exactly what Suzi made for me. The costume was very durable, comfortable under the hot lights, and moveable as I had to do a lot of preening and strutting to do it!”
Performing as reporter “Penny Dreadful” in an original play about the Wild West, Hanna stole the show in her 1895 traveling suit. Structured with boning and lace, this was made for theatrical performance, which means it was not entirely historically correct, but designed for visual effect under stage lighting.
Hanna used the sweep of her skirt and the wired collar and jacket tabs to give the illusion of feminity mixed with the newfound independence of the late 19th century. Check out “projects” for photos, details, and the historical research that went into this Silhouettes customer project… (coming soon)
“This is SO much more than making a pattern! I’m inspired to seek out more performance opportunities, & I’m writing new pieces with different characters, to take full advantage of my beautiful ensemble.”
Shelly’s original character portrayal is her own relative, Hannah Boone who was the wife of Daniel Boone. Hannah was left for years on end to take care of children while Daniel was out “doing his thing”. After his death, she remarried & moved to town.
This 1790 portrayal had some challenges because the year sits on the crux of the Georgian/Colonial fashion era, & Regency. Shelly’s character would have “hung on” to her past during the Revolutionary War, but would want to be fashionable in her new “city life”. She also changed status and lifestyle, which were keys to things like types and color of fabrics, number of petticoats, and length of skirts.
Shelly made many key choices: to keep her older style stays and her simple, tailored style, while adding some fun fashion flounces with silk ribbons and fancy hats. Read more about Shelly’s project development and the end results in “Projects” (coming soon)
“It was 95 degrees & humid, but I’ve never been so comfortable in my life as in full Victorian dress.”
This experience was the reason Silhouettes was created. Suzi was employed at a working 1880’s German dairy farm in northern Illinois as a docent & day camp teacher for children.
Under direction of anthropologists, all worked using authentic materials, bred animals, tools, plants, & buildings. They grew & harvested their own food; hitched & drove the team, and worked the potato patch – all in period costume.
Costumed Interpreters for Hire starting April, 2018!
We can dance, sing, draw, and tell stories – or just look fabulous! Contact Suzi for information on hiring “strollers”, performers, and interpreters by the hour for your Summer 2018 events. Fill out a contact form on any page of the site.