Monday, August 27, 2012

Fun in Formal-wear

This week, the lovely Alexandra and her formal dress.

Alex and her mum Bev came to me wanting an elegant, unique gown for Alex's year 12 formal in July.
As usual, what Mum thought Alex wanted was a bit different to what Alex actually wanted, so much of our time together during the design phase was me sending images between mother and daughter, and getting enthusiastic "yes" or "no!"answers from different quarters.

I also found it quite challenging to just hear what Alex wanted, so we where back and forth for quite some suggesting things that were not quite right, and Alex suggesting designs I couldn't reconcile with her shape and look.

Ultimately, we went with a dress that was a development from an original idea about draped georgette, a full skirt and a boned bodice, to ensure a perfect fit for Alex, which was a major goal for both Alex and her Mum. It was the main reason they chose custom-made, over ready-made, as Alex is both tall and statuesque, which I really love to design for: you can get away with much more hanging from a lovely tall frame without drowning the woman underneath the frock. Much fun.

Initial design for Alexandra, in blue georgette and satin.
 © E.Stanistreet, 2012

So we moved along to construction and Alex ended up choosing a beautiful and very elegant navy blue georgette over a blue gray silk crepe, which just lightened the heaviness of the navy, and gave it some dimension.

Navy georgette and blue-gray silk crepe de chine.
The difficulty I find with formal dresses is getting it both age- and person-appropriate, as teenagers are so unique in their journeys and the way they want to project themselves. Alex had a great idea about her look, and wanted what was basically a very restrained and sophisticated dress, which took Bev and I a while to grasp, as a team.

I made Alex's dress with a bodice boned, in the gray silk crepe, and with a full circle skirt attached. Over this went the navy georgette, in another full circle skirt, with ruffled sleeve and draped georgette across the bust, and through the waistline, to elongate and create interest through texture and direction.

Throughout the process, Alex the feature that Alex remained committed to was the silk ruffle "streamers" and pearl buttons. These came from my own wedding dress, that she saw in the studio in photos. I replicated this onto her dress, with the help of very accurately coloured pearl buttons from Buttonmania.

I extended the bodice draping down into the skirt to add a strong diagonal line and break up the dress as bit, as it was very "navy and georgette".

It all turned out to be very simple and more elegant than I could have imagined I wanted at 18, so snaps to you Alex, you classy lady, and for pulling off a dress with 13m of fabric in the skirt... a tall order, no pun intended. 

So here are some pics of Alex, heading our on her big night.

Alex with her Dad

Thanks to Alex and her mum Bev for their patience and persistence. I hope this dress will be in Alex's wardrobe for a long time, and maybe come in handy at some of those University balls. Watch out with the spilled beer on that silk though...

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