Thursday, October 15, 2009

KathleenCrowleyCostumeCouture And The Great Black Lotus Clothing Collaboration

Finally! A few moments to blog about the beautiful dress I made together with Christina Molcillo of Black Lotus Clothing!

Ariellah came to Christina to have her make a dress for her September 2009 Wedding. Christina designed the dress but decided to enlist me in the making of the body of the dress itself and she would embellish it and do the sleeve details. How could I resist!

Ariellah and Christina went to Lacis in Berkeley, then purchased the most exquisite antique trims and textiles to create the Art Nouveaux feel that was desired! Vintage tulle with huge pearls - so fragile and lovely! Black jet appliques and all kinds of sweet goodness!

Then Ariellah came to me with her idea, She wanted to somehow incorporate her mother's wedding dress into her gown. While this was not the original idea ( the original was very simple and far less time consuming), I could not resist. I'm a sucker for this kind of thing! There really wasn't enough yardage in the mother's dress to create the fullness needed for Ariellah's dress, so we compromised and I used the bodice of the old dress and created the base of the new bodice with it. I used as much as I could of the old dress as interlining and facings. I think this is all very symbolic and pushes good Karma points towards building a new foundation for the bride's new life. Call me sentimental and superstitious!

I put my two cents in on a few design factors that I wasn't sure would work well, and between Christina and I, we came up with what you see in the photo. Now, the model is not Ariellah, and I do hope that I get a photo of her soon, but the fit is close and you get the idea - just gorgeous! And very much like Christina's original sketch.

Christina and I took the dress back and forth to each other after we did some shopping together for the fabrics. We ended up deciding on a gorgeous silk charmeouse at Thai Silks in Los Altos. Much of the tattered lace was purchased by Christina near her home and we all got together for several fittings, which went really well. I purchased a lightweight lining fabric and boned the sides and back of the dress. Christina tea stained all that yardage to give it a more vintage feel. I cant believe how she stained all that yardage in one batch so evenly - there was really only one spot that looked a little blotchy and I was able to work around it. I was verrrrrry impressed!!!

I carefully took her mother's dress apart. If you have ever taken apart a vintage garment, you know how tiny the stitches are and how easy it can be to rip into that old taffeta. Now, I love doing this kind of stuff, but you have to be so careful. It can be very painstakingly slow at times when you come up on a backstitch or something.

I flat-lined the charmeouse with a fabric of similar weight, then incorporated the mothers dress in on top of that when I could. I felt that the dress was going to need to be flatlined as we wanted that shimmery drapey feel, yet it needed body to hold up under all that lace, applique, and beading. We considered other fabrics, but this seemed to be the best solution for the feel of the dress.

I took Ariellah' measurements and made a mock up that fit like a glove. We made notes on the dress with a sharpie pen. I raised and squared off the neckline. I put more ease in the armholes. That step in the process went well.

The only real problem we had with this was that Ariellah was out on tour a lot and I would have preferred that she be around for more fittings. As this was a skin tight dress gown, she had to be careful not to gain or lose any weight. But we did what we could with time constraints, and by the time my job was done with the gown, Christina had plenty of time to add on all that gorgeous vintage tulle and tatter all that beaded lace. You cant really see the detail, but Chris's work was fabulous!

I felt like this was a successful collaboration. I thought the dress turned out beautifully. And the bride was lovely inside and out!

I'll post a photo of Ariellah in her dress as soon as I get one!
photo: Christina Mollcilo


Niall young said...

A gorgeous desing Kathleen! I've been folowing your blog for a short while , discovered your work via I'm glad I did...take care!

. c h o k l i t . said...

Absolutely stunning! Congrats to you both, brilliant collaboration. I saw pictures of this gown on Libby Bulloff's Flickr photostream, and was floored, and I hadn't even seen the hem yet...

Can't wait to see more pictures!