I try to make every creation a balance between doing something great, and learning something new. This gown has been a heavy lean on the learning for me, and I am so excited to finally show it off to you!
When I first envisioned this gown, it was with the thought that I had fallen in love with cape sleeves and just had to make something with them.
When picturing the rest of the gown, I decided that I wanted to keep it simple. I love the feel and drape of quality fabrics, and I really wanted to play on the idea of using two colours in layers for a different overall effect. I picked a simple A-line cut in sandy gold crepe-back satin, and made an overlay of emerald chiffon. The idea was to show off the range of colours and textures the overlay would have, from the gold peeking out at the hem to the solid green of the sleeves and the deeper colour of the draped cowl in the front.
The first learning experience I had was in the shape of the gown. When I had assembled it, it was exactly as I pictured, but I just found it a little too shapeless for my tastes. After giving it some thought, I decided that it would be best to open it up in the back and put some laces in. I’m one of those people who is cursed with an ever-changing waistline, so I personally love clothing that can change size with me and still look elegant. Doing the back this way did exactly that; this gown looks beautiful on my sewing mannequin from it’s largest to smallest measurements with only the effort of tying it a little tighter or looser.
By this point I was feeling much happier with the gown, but I still felt that it was on the boring side of the scale between “plain” and “simply elegant.” I attached a belt made from the same gold fabric as the underlay, and opened the organza so that the gold underneath could peek through at the hem. After some more thought, I edged the sleeves in gold and hand-embroidered flowering vines and bead work into the belt.
In the end, the gown was exactly what I wanted. I would certainly do some things different next time- I have learned better seams for working with delicate fabrics such as chiffon and organza, and now I know what worked well and what didn’t in the design process. But it was still a true joy to hand it over to a life-long dancer, Hillary Hicks, and watch photographer Sarah Jane Murray capture the gown in motion, the way it was meant to be.