OH, the dilemmas we face when we are starving artists… Most of the dilemmas have to do with wanting to produce something we don’t have the budget or the resources to produce. Which is where I found myself standing when I decided I wanted a specific dress for a conceptual portrait shoot. The dress in the image above? It’s not really a dress. Starving artists get resourceful when their primary character trait is stubbornness. LOL! While planning this conceptual portrait, “She Took The City By Storm”, I was inspired by Oscar de la Renta”s beautiful dress design, published in Vogue for his 2013 Ad Campaign
Oscar de la Renta Spring 2013 ad campaign shot by Craig McDean, styled by Alex White. Starring Liu Wen and Caroline Brasch Nielsen. Image above originally appeared here.
I absolutely LOVED that pink gown with the large rosettes. I wanted that dress. But alas, when I looked into renting it, it was very hard to find and rental was quite expensive. As far as sewing something myself? I can hem a pair of pants or sew on a button but this is a level of artistry I defiantly don’t possess. However… I can Photoshop. 🙂 This gets me really, really far in the “fake it, till you make it” department. HA! Here is how I did it… You will need:
- 3 Yards of skirt fabric
- 1 Yard of bodice fabric
- 1 Yard of scarf fabric (optional)
- A fashion corset
- A basic pencil skirt (sized to your model)
- Safety pins (I recommend the really large pins for this. Mine were not nearly large enough).
The first thing I purchased was a fashion corset. Fashion corsets are very aptly named. They are for looks only. LOL! They don’t provide any real support at all but they work really well for faking a dress. The idea is to have something on which to pin your fabric. Fabric, especially when you drape it, has no foundation and support in and of itself. I speak from experience…wrapping fabric directly on someone’s torso ends up looking like a ridiculous mess and it is SO unflattering to a woman’s figure. Fashion corsets are really inexpensive. I got mine on Ebay for about 15.00/each. Note: Make sure to purchase the ones that lace-up in the back and snap/hook in the front. I purchased three of them: small, medium and large. The next thing I purchased was the skirt fabric. I went to my local fabric store and looked for something I could use, that would give me the feel of those rosettes. I decided the rose theme was actually what I liked most about that dress, so when I ran across this fabric with the large roses on it, I was thrilled. When faking a dress, you need to purchase enough yardage so when you drape it on your model, you can drape it in a number of different looks and shapes. That magic number to me is 3 yards. I then picked out a bodice fabric for the top part of the dress. I went with a matching red in a stiffer satin fabric. You will only need about 1 yard for the bodice. I also picked up 1 yard of lightweight scarf fabric. I wanted something I could use to cover up all my pins on the bodice, if I needed. It ended up being my favorite detail of the “dress”. Lastly, have your model bring her own pencil skirt. This will serve as the foundation for which you will pen your skirt fabric. Here is how you put it together… Take your skirt fabric and fold it in half. Place your model’s pencil skirt in between the fold and pin both of the fabric ends to the same side seam… Next, grab the fabric at the fold (the half-way point on your fabric) and pin that point to the other side seam… Now you have 1 1/2 Yards of fabric for the front and 1 1/2 yards for the back. Continue to pin the fabric to the skirt, each time grabbing the loose fabric at the halfway point and pinning. Doing it this way ensures your gathers are nice and even, as they would be on a real dress. Once you finish one side, flip the skirt over and do the same on the other side. Now for the bodice. First – fit the corset to your model and make sure the strings are set at the correct width. Doing it this way is so much easier than trying to measure your model. If you purchase the corsets that have strings in the back and snap in the front, once you fit it to your model, you can just unsnap the front without unlacing the corset. Once fitted, lay out your bodice fabric and place the corset over the fabric. Start wrapping and pinning the fabric around the corset like this…
Once this is finished it’s just a matter of fitting it on your model. Here are some behind the scenes snaps of the model in the dress. I captured a number of different poses and movements in the dress so I would have multiple stock images to work with. I wanted it to look as if the wind was blowing it, so I had my assistant flutter the fabric while I snapped away. When I put the image together I edited out all the pins and unfinished edges with the healing brush and masks in Photoshop.
My model, Anne Cowherd, is asked all the time “Where did you get that beautiful dress!?” She smiles and says, “OH that dress? That dress is one of a kind.”
Model & Styling Credits:
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