Archives for January 2022

Embassy Ballgown Recreation Series – Part 4

Wrapping up our dressmaking tale of the adventures in recreating the Embassy Ballgown Audrey Hepburn wore in the 1964 film My Fair Lady, we have the final blog with the finished gown! 

From hours of research to hours of production, the finished gown was finally completed after numerous fittings and consultations.  The team spent over 400 hours creating this gorgeous piece.  A long, yet extremely enjoyable and rewarding process of creation for a magnificent gown.

Amidst all the creation came the complex coordination of fittings, consultations, and flights. The bride flew from Austin to Maui twice for fittings, staying multiple days each time.  Jennifer flew to Austin for a fitting, working on it at the home of the bride.  Jennifer needed to take it with her back to Maui to do the final work.  When the gown was complete, the bride flew to Maui one last time to pick up the dress.  Jennifer held an Open Studio for friends to view the gown, have pink champagne and meet the bride.  It was a glorious time with friends who appreciated the fine work and the story behind the gown.  The story was written up in the Maui News, too!

The final gown was exquisite and eloquent. Over 20,000 beads, crystals, and sequins were hand sewn onto the outer layer of silk gauze. Handmade silk flowers adorned the gown. The under dress was made out of a luxurious 4-ply silk crepe, with a buttery-soft silk charmeuse lining. The vintage trim that Patty Robison provided was the perfect decoration on the edge of the gauze hem.  

Jennifer is still looking for the original Embassy Ballgown and will fly anywhere in the world to see it. If you know where the original gown is, let us know! 

Embassy Ballgown Recreation Series – Part 3

Continuing our dressmaking tale of recreating the Embassy Ballgown, we move on to the production process.  After spending roughly 50-70 hours on research and development on the gown recreation, Jennifer was ready to begin.  The dress was deemed to be in two layers.  One – a slim underdress to be made of 4-ply silk crepe, lined in silk charmeuse.  Two – an overlay to be made of diaphanous silk gauze with custom beading and embellishments.  Jennifer began draping up the layers according to the bride’s measurements. 

Jennifer hired colleague Patty Robison, a Master Bridal Tailor from Washington State, to consult on the beading and embellishments for the gauze overlay.  They met through the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals, of which they are both members.  They had many discussions via email and phone, trying to decipher the complex design from stills from the film and archival photos.  Patty created samples of the beadwork, including the beautiful beaded fringe on the edge of the collar and sleeves.  She recreated the small silk embellishments found on the skirt and helped in so many ways. After several weeks of communication, sample making, and mailing samples to Jennifer, Patty flew out to Maui for a week to assist with the sewing process.  

A paper pattern was created to determine the layout of the beading and embellishment.  All the work was original, meaning every bead and detail was sewn on by hand.  There was no existing beaded fabric for this project.  It had to be created from the ground up by applying the beads and embellishments on the silk gauze overlay.  The only piece that came ready-made was 5 yards of a vintage beaded embroidered trim that Patty had in her stock.  That piece was placed on the hem of the dress. 

Maui-based Cindy Wilson assisted Jennifer in creating this gown as well.  With over 20,000 beads, crystals, sequins and other embellishments needed for the gown, we needed some extra hands to help sew these on. Three friends, Melinda Neuwirth, Cheryl Tipton, and Kathy Baldwin, volunteered their time to hand sew beads onto the dress.  It was a labor of love with friends and colleagues who value beautiful design.

In our final blog in the series, we will see the finished gown.

A Q&A with Sophia Gallegos on the Making of Her Paper Dress

We are excited to share a Q&A with our First Hand Sophia Gallegos on the paper dress she created for Hui Holidays at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center! Jennifer highly recommended her to the Hui for the annual creation of the paper dress. We love watching Sophia shine with her unique style and design aesthetics. We asked Sophia to share a bit more about her inspiration and process for creating her paper dress. Find out more below…

Q: What was your inspiration for creating this paper dress for Hui Holidays?

A: I wanted to create something magical, so I was influenced by vintage clothing and fairy aesthetics.

Q: What was your artistic process like?

A: I am very messy when it comes to making art. I had a completely different design drawn out when I started but I scrapped it about two days in. I didn’t really have a plan, I basically just started draping the petal skirt and then my idea formed as I kept working. Using the butcher paper was a challenge because it didn’t always do what I wanted it to, so my design had to adapt to the materials I was using. 

Q: How was your experience working on this project?

A: Overall, I really enjoyed constructing this dress. There were some times where I got tired of doing so much detail work, but then I would step back from the dress and be so happy with how it looked that it didn’t matter.

Q: How has working with Jennifer at JOA prepared you for a future career in fashion? 

A: My experience working for Jennifer is incredible because I learn something new every day. I have learned so many technical sewing skills which help me create my own designs at home and show me what’s possible in terms of garment construction. She is also so supportive and generous, for example she helped me get the opportunity to make the paper dress and allowed me to design the Mother Ginger costume for the Nutcracker. I appreciate my job so much because it shows me that my fashion career is not just a dream but a reality.

Q: What are you most excited about for your future in fashion?

A: At the moment, I am really looking forward to college and going to a school where I get to completely focus on learning about fashion. I also want to figure out the exact career path I want to follow, whether it’s to become a fashion designer and have my own line, a stylist for music videos and photo shoots, or a costume designer for film and TV. 

Thank you for sharing Sophia! We can’t wait to continue to watch your artistic voice grow in all of your unique creations. And we look forward to seeing where your passions in fashion will take you in the future. Congratulations on a beautiful creation of your paper dress! If you’d like to see Sophia’s dress in person, it is on display at our studio in Makawao.