The costumes for the choir girls have so far been the most challenging to design. In the book, they’re given a very specific clothing description: black choir robes with ruffs, and black hats. Something like a black version of this:
I didn’t like the robes from the start. They’d be hard to move in and overall give the choir a dated look none of the other characters have. The robes come off, though, early in the story, and we’re never told what kind of clothes are underneath. For reasons I’ll explain later, I really liked the idea of putting the choir in blazers. But you can’t wear a blazer under a choir robe.
I did a few very rough sketches of what different types of robes or cloaks might look like. And I just couldn’t find anything that fit my vision for the characters.
I did a little more research of what British school choirs wear. And the result was that I found there’s no consistent rule. Some choir wear robes with ruffs, some have robes with a more relaxed silhouette, and some just wear regular uniforms. I couldn’t find a single picture of a girl in the ruffed uniform, either. I was free!
Now that I’ve addressed that, here Jack is:
Before I make these renderings, I go back and read the opening chapter of the novel. It does a good job quickly establishing who these characters are, and contains wonderful imagery of how the characters move and carry themselves. My last rendering, of Ralph blowing into the conch, was an image direct from the book, and so is this one. This is Jack in the moment at the end of Chapter 1 when she’s about to kill a pig, and finds she can’t. The knife is an important prop for Jack, and that particular moment with the knife says a lot about who she is and the road she’s headed down.
One of the first decisions I made was that I wanted the school that the choir attends to be a religious school. So, this uniform conforms to the very stereotypical “Catholic school girl” image a lot of people have. One of the major themes of Lord of the Flies is that morality is a societal construct, not something that’s innately within people. Take away society, and people lose their morals. In my designs, Jack comes from an environment where morality is strongly emphasized, where it’s ingrained in everything her school does. But it doesn’t save her. None of that emphasis matters when she’s on her own.
When the choir first appears, they’re described as looking bat-like in their robes. They are striking and intimidating. That was the overall effect I wanted these uniforms to have. So, I used a lot of black and red and made the silhouette very angular. There’s also a certain formality and rigidity in the tailored blazer and the tie- as opposed to the ties in my other uniforms, which are more like bows. This is a reflection of the strict moral standards they come from. There’s a school emblem- a cross, a reminder of morality- on the left side, but Jack also has something none of the other students have: a gold badge that marks her as lead chorister. It’d be something she’s very proud of and always keeps on display.
I don’t have much to say about the stockings and shoes. I wanted a lot of sharp lines and solid colors in Jack’s look, and the stockings create this very strong swath of color. The shoes have thick soles because that would effect the way Jack moves and give her a more grounded, heavy step.