My mom is one of the best seamstress' I know. Aside of being today's Doris Day, she is by far today's Edith Head. Edith Head was a remarkable costume designer winning eight academy awards. She worked from the 20's to the early 80's but her most profound work was for suspense film director, Alfred Hitchcock in the 40's and 50's. Hitchcock's leading ladies became Head's muses one of which was my most favorite, Grace Kelly. One of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies is "To Catch a Thief" starring Cary Grant & Grace Kelly. Taking place in the south of France, Grace Kelly's gowns and dresses were absolutely stunning and mind blowing. I believe this movie displayed some of Edith Head's greatest work.
Since I do love all things Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, and Edith Head I found a fascination with this movie and it is one of my all time favorites. Whenever I watch, I wish so badly that I could have each and every one of those dresses in store for me to wear. The closest I came to wearing the dresses was when I attended The Grace Kelly Style Icon Exhibit in London in 2010. I was in heaven. The Exhibit showcased most of Grace Kelly's most famous dresses and gowns worn in her movies and in the public eye. To see the dresses that I drooled over for so many years, in person was truly a great experience. To me, I'd rather see that then a runway show... for real. It was history of one of the most famous iconic actresses of her time. You don't get to see that every day. I was grateful I was able to view the exhibit with my mom, as we both share a love for this.
Starting in middle school, i began drawing sketches of dresses I wished to of had. My mom finally took one of my sketches to the test and made my 8th grade formal dress. Looking back at it now, I laugh. Im not dogging my moms talent, but I sure am dogging my design. But I still love it because it was the first of many. Starting in high school i'd design all of my homecoming and prom dresses. I'd even bite the bullet and sign up for pageants, which are huge in the south but i didn't care for them. I only did it to find an excuse to design a gown. The judges were far from loving it because I wasn't pageant material. The gowns I was designing and my mom was sewing were more couture which is far from pageant. other projects of ours included designing and sewing my sister's wedding dress and for that I also designed and my mom sewed my bridesmaids dress for that wedding. My dress was based off of an Oscar de la Renta dress. Really, since then, I haven't found a reason to design. It's sort of sad. I was originally hoping to go to an art school for fashion design. Mainly, SCAD (Savannah Collage of Art and Design) but decided I needed to come to Utah. While Utah is in a rut for fashion I continued my studies in the Fine Arts with painting, which I also did all through out High School.
My wedding dress was the key piece that I was so ready for. It took five years of collage to get me there, and this year was finally the year to design the dress of all dresses. So what did I do? I decided this is the only time, for now, that I could have the closet thing to all of the dresses I adore in Hitchcocks "To Catch a Thief." So I did it. I took three dresses from the movie and combined them together in my own rendition of Grace Kelly's To Catch a Thief Dress. The three dresses consisted of :
two toned blue chiffon evening gown : edith head
This is my most favorite dress of Grace Kelly's of ALL TIME. Im talking about all movies combined. This one takes the cake. I love the draping of chiffon, the way it flows in sections when she walks down the halls of the Carlton Hotel. I love the two-toned bodice and skirt along with the knot. From this dress, for my wedding dress, I took the elements of the chiffon material and the two-toned panels.
grace kelly "francis stevens" 2-piece rose crepe outfit : edith head
The To Catch A Thief Dress : Edith Head
This dress is the most renowned dress from the movie, giving it the name, The "To Catch a Thief Dress" where kelly pairs the strapless white chiffon gown with a collar of diamonds. This dress has been attempted so many times for wedding dresses that I didn't want to do it. Though, I am completely in love with this piece I only want to take one detail from it for my very own dress. I love trains on dresses, I really do. They add a great element of drama. But for me, when I know that I have designed it, and my mom spent countless hours of her summer sewing it, the dress becomes a bit fragile and both my mom and I become overprotected. Therefore, I did not want a train that would drag behind me and snag and pick up dirt from the ground. So this train attached at the top of graces dress, was perfect. We added this back chiffon sash and let it trail off to where the actual dress hits the ground. This detail addition is very regal and old hollywood.
With all of this taken into deep consideration, I drew up the sketches and even did a watercolor sketch of the dress. Now, I am so aware, these are not that great of sketches. To be a fashion designer, you really need to learn the craft of sketching, illustration and learning the precise way to draw the body. I did not learn this at the time, and when I finally took an illustration class, my excitement was SHOT when I realized how difficult this is to do. It's harder than it looks. And I commend designers who can do this kind of drawing and sketching. so please don't judge.
At this time of designing, I was still going with the drop waist. This drop waisted dress was a combination of the three "To Catch a Thief" dresses as well as a Prada dress worn by Gwyneth Paltrow at the Cannes Film Festival. By the time my mom and I began to sew the dress we came to the conclusion that this would not be the most flattering waist line. Therefore, right then and there we went back to the waist line of the blue chiffon dress and began sewing without drawing a third sketch.
The Process in the Construction of Making
Final Dress behind the Scenes of the Wedding
The construction of the dress was unbelievable. My mom is seriously a genius. Every little detail was just as how I wanted it. She knows how crazy I am with my detailing, which probably drove her up a wall in high school but when we were finished with each dress, we'd sit back and ooo and ahh. My mom made my wedding dress into about 6 different dresses. I do not want to do the math but, let me tell you. The panels of chiffon, the taupe and mauve colors are attached to the belt made of the crushed beaded bone trim around my waist. This belt of chiffon panels is detachable. Therefore, If I wanted, the whole skirt of the dress could just be the white silk and the white silk only as seen down below.
I prefer the belt of chiffon panels on because it adds dimension, it's unique, its regal, its screaming grace kelly to me. Now the panels of chiffon are not sewn together. They each hang individually making them pick up and flow in the wind when I walk. This replaces the drama given by a tradition train, which I did not have.
Overall, I am beyond impressed with the job that my mom did on my dress. I really don't know how to thank her. Her hands are miraculous and the talent she has is something I envy but am very grateful to have as a tool in my life. It is one of my favorite things to do with my mom, design, and sew. Go to our favorite hole in the wall fabric store in Buckhead, Georgia and talk fabrics and design. My mom truly is an inspiration when it comes to talent. Though she doesn't sew for a living, she fills her time with doing personal projects for herself and her children. For this, I am grateful. I am really going to have to do something huge in return to thank her. She really outdid herself this time. It's fun to see the progression of dresses we have designed and made together through out the years. But this one really takes the cake and is so extra special to me in so many ways. It was a dream come true. Thanks mom for all of your hard work and sacrifice. I really appreciate it and I really really love you.