Creating a Custom Gown, Part 2

I love birthdays, all birthdays. Celebrations of life’s special moments bring points of light into our day in day out busy lives.

Recently I was honored to play a part in the birthday of Miss L. As you can read about in my last blog post, she had visited my studio in advance of her birthday to help in picking some of the design elements of her dress. Part of the plan was that she would help me by modeling in a photo shoot of the dress. So on her birthday she arrived with her parents and younger sister for the unveiling.

I had set up the dress in my photo area with flowers, balloons and lights illuminating the dress on the form. But nothing was as radiant as Miss L’s face as she slowly approached and observed how her choices had come to be realized in dress form.

 Her expression says it all

Her expression says it all

Once she had had time to try it on and twirl a bit (a must as far as I’m concerned!) we had a great hour of taking photos. She was a terrific model with her sweet face and mix of fun and soulful expressions. We even got a few with her younger sister which was a treat to see the two sisters together, so close to each other in their bond and yet very much their own people.

The process of creating this custom gown was so satisfying. Miss L’s selection of a very delicate and refined striped silk chiffon required me to search very carefully for coordinating fabrics and trims that would enhance rather than overwhelm it. My general rule of thumb in creating princess gowns is that “more is more” when it comes to the glitter and sparkle, but this gown called for restraint.

The end result reminds me a lot of Miss L. As a newly minted six year old she is tall and willowy. Still a little girl in her play and joy for discovering the world, but at the same time developing a real sophistication and maturity. And so this dress reflects that dichotomy. It is as diaphanous as the transition from being a little girl to becoming a big girl. Floating back and forth in that space in time when you can be so many things at once.

At the end of the day you can say it’s just a dress. But I see it as a symbol representing Miss L at this moment. Hopefully she will wear and play in it for years to come. And if she happens to save it, perhaps someday in the future it can serve as a physical reminder of how it felt to be newly six years old. One that is surrounded with the love of her family and friends, who encourage and rejoice in her being just who she is. That’s something to celebrate.

 Birthday girl

Birthday girl

 Getting her first peak at her gown

Getting her first peak at her gown

 Heading out to celebrate her day

Heading out to celebrate her day