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. The business has expanded following a successful first year to …
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 Buffalo Gals”
“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..?)
“I’m eating salad because it fits into my corset better than hamburger.”
Bringing the energy and a one-two punch, sisters Jacinta and Kateri have the drive and ambition to make this business fly. They’re the kind of people you’d want at your right hand if you went to war, or tried to win the vote for women, or get women to own property – the kinds of things we teach.
Called “Kat” because Suzi is too slow to adapt to phonetics, we like jokes “Kat in Hat” and such because she is superb in the late Victorian and Edwardian finery and fluff and stuff. Look for Kat also in tailored riding and Western ensembles, because she can adapt to portray just about anything she wants to.
Kat was recently seen in the restaurant of the historic Irma Hotel showing her ankles and her corset cover in public – a hanging offense in the 19th century, it was hardly noticed by the men of today.. maybe…
“I know I know. Over the head over the head over the head.”
Fiona is the youngster of the group, and comes along with her mother to events. She is also the most energetic, and the fastest at getting dressed. When we first started, she got into a lot of trouble tearing the closures of her garments because she stepped out of them. She’s got it now (plus we reinforced everything like crazy).
We aren’t sure if teens in history behaved like this, although Fiona will tell you in 1866 she would be working alongside the women and getting ready to marry, a concept that presently makes her want to barf. Our challenge is how fast she’s growing – all of her clothing is designed to get at least 1 1/2 years out of it, but every time I see her I get shorter! At this rate of growth, we’re going to have to practice a serious skill learned from our great grandmothers – handing down and remaking.
Doty used to have the ideal Edwardian figure, but she keeps losing weight and having to be padded out. Fortunately, Edwardians did a lot of padding so it’s legit. Like still waters with a strong current, Doty is the ideal woman of any era in history, and depicts a range from the 1870’s into the 20th century.
We’re working on high fashion ensembles because she’s the artist of the group, so we get to take historical liberties. All of our women really are rather daring for their times, as we of the 21st century are a bit more strong willed than our grandmothers and their mothers.
Doty is the only one who keeps her gloves and hat on, mostly because she gets the coolest and most authentic of all. We can still find items from the early 1900’s like jewelry and gloves. It’s fun to play grown up dress up!
Buffalo Gals performing May 1, ’18 in Powell, Wyoming!
7:00-8:30 pm at the Powell Library. Buffalo Gals are historic interpreters for hire who 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 …