Who’s Who in Wonderland

By Louise Irvine

For more than 150 years, artists, illustrators, and designers have envisioned the residents of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Now Chelsea Rousso, glass artist and fashion designer, has reimagined the curious cast for her fashion show of wearable glass to launch our Believe the Impossible season at WMODA. Meet the bizarre characters and discover more about their unbelievable costumes courtesy of Jeffrey Michaels, Thibaut, Valley Forge, and many other luxury fabric specialists.

Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” Alice

Alice is the protagonist of her Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She is curious and courteous and finds herself in extraordinary situations, growing, shrinking, and swimming in a pool of her own tears. Whitney Fair, a talented underwater performer, plays Alice at WMODA. She wears a yellow and white glass corset designed by Chelsea and a vintage apron. Although Alice is often portrayed in blue, she wears a yellow dress as in the original color illustrations for the Nursery Alice by John Tenniel.

I knew who I was this morning, but I've changed a few times since then.” Alice

The White Rabbit is nervous and agitated at being late for his date with the Duchess, so much so that he fears execution by the Queen of Hearts. “Oh dear, oh dear, I will be too late! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers!” Alice follows him down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. At WMODA, the White Rabbit is is played by Gretchen Heinsen and wears a pink glasskini with white fluffy fur supplied by Fabricut.

Alice: “How long is forever?” White Rabbit: “Sometimes, just one second.”


“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you would not have come here.”

 The Cheshire Cat grins constantly and vanishes at will. He gives vague directions, poses philosophical questions, and introduces Alice to the madness of Wonderland. The Cat is first seen in the home of the Duchess and disappears forever during the Queen’s croquet game after being sentenced to lose his head. The Cat wears one of Chelsea’s striped glasskinis and the fur is by Fabricut. Estefanny Torres, Miss Hispanic 2021, is the Cheshire Cat at WMODA.

 Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Cheshire Cat

The Duchess is the volatile cousin of the Queen of Hearts. Alice rescues her howling, sneezing baby who turns into a pig. Later Alice plays an absurd croquet game with the Duchess and the Queen using flamingos as mallets and hedgehogs as balls. The Duchess is played at WMODA by Georgina Bachour and her gown was designed by Tatiana Cochagne..

“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go round a deal faster than it does.” The Duchess

The March Hare hosts a tea party for the Hatter and the Dormouse and takes pleasure in frustrating Alice, offering her wine when there is none. Gabriel Ugas is the March Hare at WMODA and he has straw in his hair which denoted madness in Victorian time.  His glass vest and accessories were designed by Chelsea and he has been dressed in fabrics exclusive to Thibaut, the oldest wallpaper company in the United States. Thibaut was established in 1886, just 21 years after the March Hare first made his appearance.

“It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down uninvited.” said the March Hare to Alice

The Hatter talks in riddles and is rude to his guests at the perpetual tea party in Wonderland. The Cheshire Cat claims he and the March Hare are both mad but he is never actually called the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s text. Victorian hatters were prone to madness due to mercury poisoning from the felting process. Sam Fray plays the Mad Hatter at WMODA and he wears dramatic black and white pants in Thibaut fabric and a glass bowtie by Anne Orvieto.

“If you knew Time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting it.” The Mad Hatter

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?” The Mad Hatter

 Chelsea has imagined two hatters in her version of Wonderland inspired by Alena Alberani’s performance at the first Through the Looking Glass event at WMODA where she modeled one of Chelsea’s dazzling glasskinis. The Mad Hattress symbolizes female empowerment and demonstrates that anything HE can do SHE can do better, including making hats. Alena is a certified psychosynthesis life coach and voiceover artist who loves to make dreams reality. She wears a skirt with fabric designed by Tatiana Cochagne.

Alice: “I don't think...” “then you shouldn't talk” said the Hatter.

The Frog-Footman is a servant of the Ugly Duchess and is resigned to the fact that nothing makes sense in Wonderland. He is played at WMODA by Derek Rousso and wears a suit of red velvet donated by Valley Forge and stripes by Zimmer Rohde. The matching Fish-Footman is the Queen’s servant and delivers an invitation to the Duchess for a game of croquet.  He is played at WMODA by Clay Rousso. 

“Not all who wander are lost.” Cheshire Cat

The Playing Cards are loyal servants and guards for the Queen of Hearts and have human heads, arms, and legs. The spades are gardeners, the clubs are soldiers, the diamonds are courtiers, and the hearts are members of the royal family. Three of the gardeners mistakenly planted a white rose bush in the Queen’s garden and tried to paint the roses red before she noticed. Scherry Donato and Anne Orvieto made the glass accessories for their costumes.

The Queen of Hearts is the ruthless ruler of Wonderland with a quick temper who constantly orders executions when she is displeased. She is often red with fury as she shrieks “off with their heads” but everybody evades execution thanks to her consort, the King. Maria Portilla, who plays the Queen at WMODA, towers above her terrified subjects in a regal leopard print glasskini by Chelsea and red silk taffeta donated by Stroheim. Josh Fradis made the Queen’s royal scepter in blown glass.

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” The White Queen

The White Queen is based upon the chess piece of the same name in Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She lives backwards in time and screams in pain before she pricks her thumb on her brooch rather than afterwards. She claims to be over 101 years old which Alice finds hard to believe. The Queen responds that in her youth she could believe “six impossible things before breakfast” and counsels Alice to use her imagination. The White Queen’s glittering vintage gown is embellished with Swarovski crystals and her train of Carleton fabric is inscribed Believe the Impossible. Tania Marin, a former Miss Venezuela, is the White Queen at WMODA.

“Well, some go this way, and some go that way. But as for me, myself, personally, I prefer the short-cut.” The Cheshire Cat

Fabrics for the Believe the Impossible Fashion Show were graciously supplied by Jeffrey Michaels and Valley Forge.

Jeffrey Michaels

Since 1993, Jeffrey Michaels has become one of Florida’s premiere representatives and distributors for decorative fabrics, trimmings, and wallcoverings. Their inspirational showroom is located near WMODA in the South Florida Design Park and their founder Diana Feibelman is a valued supporter of the museum. She enthusiastically embraced the Wonderland project and encouraged her suppliers to donate luxurious fabrics for Chelsea’s costumes. Jeffrey Michaels is renowned for their superior customer service and the team builds great relationships with their designers, suppliers, and local community.

Valley Forge Fabrics

Valley Forge is the world’s leading supplier of decorative interior textiles for the hospitality industry. They are committed to sustainability and working together harmoniously with our environment. Since 2002, their priority has been the use of recycled products, including fibers made from eucalyptus and other botanicals and recyclable textiles. They donate to local environmental causes for the Florida Everglades and Diana Dobin generously supports community initiatives including WMODA.

Read more...

Believe the Impossible @ WMODA

 

Thank you...

The cast and crew have generously given their time and
energy to create the glass fashion show at WMODA.
We are also indebted to our sponsors who have donated fabrics and accessories. 

Chelsea Rousso
Glass Artist & Fashion Designer

Cast in order of appearance

Derek Rousso - Frog Footman
Clay Rousso - Fish Footman
Gretchen Heinsen - White Rabbit
Whitney Fair - Alice
Estefanny Torres - Cheshire Cat
Sam Fray - Mad Hatter
Alena Alberani - Mad Hattress
Gabriel Ugas - March Hare
Stephanie Duarte - Playing Card
Marielena GQ - Playing Card
Sydney Herrera - Playing Card
Lannia Burns - Playing Card
Georgina Bachour - Duchess
Dr. Maria Portilla - Queen of Hearts
Tania Marin - White Queen

Trace - DJ

Jaclen Milo-Waite – Fashion Show Producer
Suzanne Barton – Show & Underwater Art Photographer
Humberto Vidal – Photographer
Justin Oletsky - Videographer

Costumes

Tatiana Cochagne - Fashion Designer
Lily Marotto - Fashion Designer

Glass Art & Accessories

Scherry Donato  ~  Anne Orvieto
Ellen Cohen-Berman
Rob Stern  ~  Josh Fradis
Lloyd Goradesky ~ Rey Lozano

Hair & Make-Up

Miss Moss  ~  Nicolas Totera
Brooke Dorugh  ~  Haily Cerro
Jordyn Gilkes  ~  Natali Murphy
Jamie Fazekas 

Fabric Donations

Jeffrey Michaels  ~  Thibaut
Valley Forge Fabrics  ~  Fabricut
Samuel & Sons  ~  Interior Fabrics Inc
Kanchi  ~  Carleton House 

Social Media & PR

Philip Acierno  ~  Bill Cohn

Resonance @ WMODA 

Rob Stern - Glass Artist
Dave Rosenthal - Multi-Disciplinary Artist

WMODA STAFF

Louise Irvine - Executive Director & Curator

Kimberly Sheridan – Visitor Services Manager & PR
Lori Brown – Graphic Designer
Carolina Bermudez – Collections Manager
Luis Montanez – Logistics Manager
Elyse Buchanan – Collections Management
Alisa Melchanova – Reception

WMODA Volunteers

Linda Saft ~ George Hawthorn ~ Claudia Bailey
Jim Read ~ Julio (Flipper) DiFilippo ~ Mirela Popovici
Cheryl Caruso

We’re all mad here!