Monday, June 1, 2009

Festive Attire Solutions

I decided to wear what I call my Indian fertility goddess because of the print, waterfall because of the effect of the metallic threads when they dance in the light, dress to the party suggesting "festive" attire on the invitation. That is a tough one. Every fashion blog I read interpreted "festive" as something less than cocktail. I had originally made this dress, worn with sparkling shoes and jewelery to wear to a black tie optional dinner. The resurgence of the maxi dress made this a perfect interpretation of "festive" for this season. There were a few younger than myself in classic halter maxi dresses at the event. The special guest singer at the event, Katie Gray wore one of these.

I chose to make my maxi dress with shear dolman sleeve and not-too-deep V neck at front and back. This is a much better interpretation for someone of my age and with my figure.

Our hostess was the fashion inspirational hit of the event. That is no surprise since she is a statuesque 6'1". Add 4" heels and WOW!

She wore a natural silk sheath with a deep cowl surrounding a plunging back. A terra cotta to rust wrap was casually draped over one shoulder. What was truly unique about the dress was the leather harness that held it in place across and down her back.

The challenge in designing, making or wearing a dress with a V-neck at front and back, like the dress I am wearing, or a bare back like that worn by our hostess is keeping it from slipping off the shoulders, opening at the side, or dropping down too low at center back. You hear stories about how sloppily designed gowns are taped into place on models bodies.

The harness treatment was novel and modern. A no more than 1/2" wide leather belt was buckled across our hostess' back. If I were to look at the dress from the inside, I wouldn't be surprised if I found a fitted under-dress to which the cowl is attached scooping down around the back. If you were full on top, the under-dress might include a bra inset that the belt might secure. A second belt T'd down the center back, no doubt to grab and hold the skirt in place at her lower back. A simple, but elegant, and truly great design that could be worn anywhere at anytime!

A number of years ago, I made a Kasper designed for Vogue Patterns deep cowl down the back dress for a New Year's Eve party. It was secured by a simple tie of the same fabric across the upper back, and cinched in with a ruched waistband around the hips. A large chiffon or organza bow tie might offer an updated version of this method. For a more demure approach, the back might be filled with lace, embroidered organza or chiffon.

A trick I employed with the double-"V" neckline of my Indian fertility goddess dress was to cut the neckline on the selvage. This kept it from stretching. It is silk chiffon and I wanted to leave the upper piece shear. I was able to finish this edge with a simple double-rolled hem. I lengthened the stitch to 3-1/2 on my machine settings, so I could pull it in a smidgen before securing to the dress front at front and back.

If the fabric has more bulk or it is to be lined or faced, then easing it onto a piece of very light weight seam binding to keep it from stretching and to pull it in against is a good idea. Dressmakers' rayon seam binding is a good choice. I also use the selvage from a piece of organza or chiffon. The neckline edge should be eased not enough to show gathers, but just enough to pull in instead of out.

My nature photographer husband did not want to appear like papparazzi, so we did not take a camera any further onto the Montecito estate grounds than where our cars were parked. I could have done without pictures of people and what they wore, but I wish I had a photograph of the table. It was set in a "u" shape on an outdoor patio. Each table setting had a crystal white wine, red wine, water and pleated blue champagne glass. Each table setting had 3-5 candles. The effect was worthy of Camelot. Indeed, it felt as if we were there.

The party was coordinated by Events by Phillipe. Need I say that the French meal was superb. Magician Rich Ferguson roved the party keeping all perky and at ease. Best of all were our host and hostess, with love for family and friends, and a passion for life that outshines even the most elegant of settings.


  1. That IS really beautiful! Love the fabric.

  2. I love the name you've given this dress. It is perfect! I also love that it is elegant and grown-up. It is a nice reminder that, just because I've reached a certain age, I don't have to settle for matronly looking dresses.

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