Located in NW 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. In its 3rd year, the business has expanded to provide …
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.
Come see Gals in costume ensembles at the Folk Festival August 3 & 4, 2019 in Thermopolis, Wyoming! The theme is “Herstory”; exactly what we’ve been telling in our shows and interpretations. Look for Shelly King, master storyteller in her “Titanic” ensemble. Copy/paste: http://wyomingfolkfestival.com/
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 Buffalo Gals”
“We tipped a cup of tea for freedom to you today. It was attended by famous suffragettes and abolitionists including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, President Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Soujourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and the baby of the bunch – Ida B. Wells.”
Dr. Anderson teaches her students about American history in a unique way, by dressing up the school and herself for a specific time and place each year. Her authentic ensemble was a challenge to build and a joy to research as we learned from each other.
Silhouettes wants to thank this customer who has become a friend and an “honorary Buffalo Gal” as we have forged our own new paths in history.
“This is obviously not about comfort or convenience.”
Our calming “Mom” Gal, Kristi depicts a mail order bride from the east who travels along the Oregon Trail to Wyoming. She depicts every stage of an historical woman’s life – emigrant, pioneer, settler – mother, daughter, sister, wife… and has a lot of intepretation to handle.
Her primary ensemble is a huge hoop skirt with two 26 yard petticoats, huge skirt, and ruffled overskirt. She has a “casual western” bodice that she keeps wanting to call a “blouse” which wouldn’t be invented for at least 50 years.
A beautiful person inside and out, she can pull off wearing even the tiny hat of 1868. Next ensemble for her will be a “killer fitted” 1860’s (Civil War) large higher class skirt.. and then the 1880’s pioneer simple dress she’ll wear for museum interpretation.
We’re headed to the Cody Gunfights this summer, so we’ve got to catch her up to the 1890’s eventually.
Carol stepped in as narrator for the Buffalo Gals’ fashion show which introduced the group to the public and potential clients. Having the most difficult ensemble to dress with stays including stomacher, bust, and modesty panel PLUS outer 1765 stomacher and robings AND paniers plus stuffed paper… there was a swarm of helpers buzzing around her before showtime.
A brilliant success, Carol’s 18th Century ensemble doesn’t have a lot of call in Wyoming for interpretation, so we’re looking to update it a bit.. say about 125 years to the 1880’s…
“Farming in 1885 sounds a lot like what we do now. I just have to be myself.”
Melissa owns a flower farm in Wyoming, so does just select events with “The Gals”, but when she does, she saves the day! Having worked as an historic interpreter for 18th century Williamsburg, her ability to spiral lace up stays in a pinch is lifesaving. She knows her robes and pinnings too, and has her own ensemble to wear to projects – if there were any in the Wyoming region.
We’ve got her in a rural farmwife’s role for general presentations, so she can fit in on short notice to just about anything happening around here for 1880. Her baby and child keep her mighty busy, and watching and remembering for we old ones with our kids grown up is a great reminder of the seasons of life and women that is what these depictions are really all about.
The other half of the sisters Schneider, they couldn’t be more different. She’s in school to become an anthropologist studying – guess what – fashion history! She brings knowledge and research to every meeting, and keeps us on our toes to be accurate. Every historical seamstress needs an anthro looking over her shoulder (maybe).
We love the way Jacinta can get movement out of her garments, and maximizes everything from hair to pout to get the whole character. So far we’ve tried her in “soft” garments, and we’d like to expand to get her into something high fashion with a bustle, and then very low fashion working class. Her versatility in depiction and ability to fit into most anything we give her and make it work has her a valuable asset for future assignments.
It’s too bad there isn’t a lot of opportunity for years 1800-1840, because we’d love to get her into late Regency and Early Victorian (can you say Austen and Dickens..?)
(1) Builds deeply researched ensembles “from the bum up” for customers; (2) “Buffalo Gals” perform historic fashion shows; (3) Hire out “Gals” for interpretive events & historical facilities; (4) Give costumed walking tours of Cody; (5) Have LOTS of fun! FIND US using any contact form on any page