|Ladies, if you have scrumptious gams this dress (at original length) is for YOU!|
I made this Cirque dress before the one I showed you back in spring, but wanted to get pictures which showed it to full advantage before sharing it with you here. A couple of weeks ago i ran across this fantastic mural in an out of the way, industrial-type area of Berkeley. I thought the cerulean blues would be fantastic against the burnt oranges in this print, but the location didn't lend itself to my usual self-portraiture. Happily my dad agreed to take some pictures of me with his DSLR camera and here we are!
I bought this fabric from Marcy Tilton's online store around 18 months ago. As soon as i saw it i loved it - the style recalls a dear artist friend of mine and the warm colors are my favorites to wear. I had no firm plans for what to DO with it, and this fabric languished in stash until i saw Vogue 9112. Instantly i loved that dress and i knew what i was waiting for on this fabric!
But I had a couple of aspects I wanted to think through to make this dress fantastic. I am 5'5", 5;6" with an Hourglass/Inverted Triangle figure. This dress has a high collar - in fact the collar is lots of what attracts me to this design - but with no design lines breaking up the upper bodice area. So I was a little leery about looking overly formidable.
|the lovely and formidable Margaret Dumont courtesy jimbolist|
As it happens, the design is more IT friendly than one would think at first glance - the wide, open neckline and multiple vertical/diagonal lines of the collar help to break up a wide shoulder line. The shoulder seams are again quite nicely designed - wide enough for modesty and covering a bra, but slim enough to again break up any linebacker shoulders.
You may stand the collar up or fold it down. Allowing it to crumple a bit softens the lines around the shoulders. And you can create the classic vee neckline used to break up a generous bust by wearing a longer necklace or two.
|I edged the collar with topstitched self-made bias tape to show more of the print|
When it came to constructing the dress, I chose a drapey cotton lawn and cut enough ease at the bust so that the dress would drape over the individual breasts instead of pulling taught across the bust (i am wearing a silk camisole under the dress here, without which the drape is more pronounced). I've found this helps to 'break up' the upper body. I placed the print asymmetrically across the bust for the same reason - that sequence of yellow and orange circles at center front would have been a target!
Continuing this approach, I placed the print asymmetrically over the dress as a whole. As my aesthetic generally is more low-contrast and delicate, with many curvy lines in face and hair I placed the more delicate, low contrast areas of the print in the upper third of the dress, closer to my face.
I concentrated the bolder, darker, higher contrast, 'heavier' areas of the print near the hem to anchor the dress visually and to get the impact of these parts of the print without feeling like I was being overwhelmed.
You'll notice that I relied on several different techniques to break up what could have been a formidable bodice - color and light/dark placement in the bodice as well as the overall garment, varying the weight of the lines used in the print over the garment, styling with necklaces, and last but not least Marcy Tilton's masterful use of subtly flattering lines in the original dress design.
I am very glad I chose to ignore 'traditional flattery' rules and tackle this design! Not only do i have two great summer dresses (with more to come) but I put myself through my paces creating visual balance in these garments. This experience clarified the process for me, and I hope this knowledge will be useful to my readers as well.
|eagle-eyes will spot a high-heeled shoe, cassette audio tape, flaming binocular, old school teevee aerial....|
Believe it or not, this dress is a big sentimental piece for me. I have a dear friend of many years who is an artist often working in the graffiti style. We spent many wonderful hours visiting museums together. One of his favorite artists is Alexander Calder, and we saw Calder's circus (made for his daughter) at the Berkeley Art Museum a few times together. So between the graffiti, the color palette, and the 'cirques' of this dress, it reminds me so much of my wonderful friend Shawn. I realize when you hear 'sentimental dressing' one expects old fashioned Victorian frills - this goes to show you just never know!
What are your most unexpected sentimental garments? Let us know in the comments!
Photography by Marvin Quick.