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.

The Custom Dressmaking Process

We were reminiscing about past clients and creations and we came upon this custom wedding gown. Many years ago, when Jennifer was still working from her home studio, she worked together with the Bride Janice. Janice got married at Maui Tropical Plantation in this beautiful bias-cut silk charmeuse wedding gown. With the new year around the corner and many brides-to-be preparing for a busy 2022, we wanted to share a bit more about the custom wedding gown process at JOA.

At the Atelier, we treat the custom wedding gown process as a one-of-a-kind experience. We curate the process to each individual client we work together with. We want our clients to feel comfortable and confident through every step of the way… all the way to the last dance at the reception. For us at JOA, the custom wedding gown process is about getting to know our clients in order to truly let their personalities shine through on their wedding day in their custom made dress. 

The general structure of our custom wedding gown process begins with an initial consultation to make sure the bride and JOA are a good match. This is an important step as the process is very much a collaborative process and we want to make sure that we are on the same page. Afterwards, we will set up a design consultation to begin the draft of your dream wedding gown. This is always a very exciting meeting as we dream up all of the possibilities and details. Jennifer will then create a visual design for you to review to make sure it fits your vision. Next, the JOA team will create a toile, or sample dress. Once the sample garment is approved by you, we will create the real garment from the chosen fabrics. We will have as many fittings as needed to make sure all fits right and you feel comfortable in your gown. 

Creating a wedding gown is a rich and full process. Your gown becomes embedded with something very intentional and meaningful as you were a part of the process the entire way. For Jennifer, it’s very personal, as the gowns are a labor of love. She is a bit sad to see them go, but happy for the bride. It is a process she would like to share with every woman getting married. If you’d like to know more about our custom wedding gown process click here or email us at love@jenniferoberg.com. At JOA we are passionate about creating and collaborating. We would love to work together with you on bringing your unique vision to life!

All About Bustles: The Reception

We have previously shared the English Pick-Up Bustle in our blog series which you can find here. For this blog post we wanted to share this type of bustle in action! 

The whole purpose of a bustle is to give Brides the freedom and flexibility to have the dress of their dreams with the possibility for comfort. Many brides like to lean towards the classic longer train on their wedding gown. When you go for this look you also need to consider adding a bustle to your gown. Wedding gowns aren’t already made with a bustle. You need to find a highly skilled dressmaker or alteration specialist to create a bustle for you. Depending on the length of your train, the fabric, the layers, and the detailing on the gown, the complexity of the bustle can vary. Hence, you want to make sure you go to a professional with experience and expertise in sewing and dressmaking. 

The beauty of a bustle is that you suddenly get two dresses in one. You can flaunt your gorgeous classic train down the aisle at your wedding ceremony, and then come night, you can secure your bustle and suddenly your gown is ready to dance the night away at the reception! Bustles are not only incredibly practical and functional, they also add beautiful details to your gown. If you view our past All About Bustles blog series you can see the plethora of bustles you can add to your gown. The possibilities are endless and very much curated to you, your gown, and your personal style. 

Below is the Bride Mickenzy at her reception dancing with her pinned up English Pick-Up Bustle. You can see her bustle is nicely pinned up and her gown is ready to handle any dance moves. 

Here is a photo of her gown with the full train..

Brides-to-be get in touch with Jennifer at love@jenniferoberg.com for all bustle inquires. We would love to work together with you!

 

Bride Mickenzy’s Wedding Vendors:

Dress: Ellys in Kihei (@ellysformalwear) (Designer: Stella York) (@missstellayork)

Wedding Gown Alterations: Jennifer Oberg (@jenniferobergatelier) 

Photographer: Sydney Breann Photography (@sydneybreannphoto)

Hair/Makeup: Sisu Beauty, Duluth MN (@sisubeautyco)

Videographer: Hunter Chear, Chear Media (@chearmedia) 

Wedding ceremony: Enger Park in Duluth (@

Reception: Greysolon Ballroom (@greysolonduluth)

Flowers: Saffron and Grey (@saffronandgrey)

David’s tie: Otaa Australia (@otaa.australia)

David’s tux: The Black Tux (@theblacktux)

Real Weddings: Mickenzy

We are highlighting the Bride Mickenzy today! She got married on September 9, 2021 in Duluth, Minnesota. We had the joy of working together with her on her wedding gown. Below is some more information on the work we did for her, photos from her special day, her wedding vendors, and her favorite memory from her wedding day.

We did many different wedding gown alterations for Bride Mickenzy. First, we let out the straps that were too tight. Then, we made small darts at the neckline to tighten the front. We added new bust cups and added boning under the bust area to keep the bodice from collapsing. We hemmed all 4 layers of the gown. For the top lace layer, we had to remove certain appliques and reposition them to make the hem look cohesive. The goal in this type of work is to make it seem like nothing was done. Everything has to flow perfectly! Lastly, we created an English Pick-Up Bustle for her gown.

Having your wedding gown altered is a very precious and tedious process. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of finding a skilled Alteration Specialist to do this work. It takes tremendous care and a meticulous eye to carefully alter your gown while maintaining the integrity and intricate detailing of your gown. At JOA, we are specialists in what we do. Each and every gown we work on is entirely different from the next. 

We have a wealth of knowledge in not only sewing, but also in how various fabrics work, how to make changes blend smoothly so you have no idea anything was done, and how to mold the process to the individuality of each client. The alteration process is curated to the uniqueness of your gown and your body. There is no cookie cutter formula for altering gowns. People are not symmetrical. One shoulder may be higher, one breast larger, one hip higher, etc. Working in this field requires gentleness and kindness for each client we work together with. Every client’s body is completely different. 

Here are some photos of Bride Mickenzy on her wedding day with her husband…

A favorite memory from the bride:

 

“A favorite memory of our wedding day was having a sweetheart table during dinner to spend quality time with my new husband! “

Wedding Vendors

Dress: Ellys in Kihei (@ellysformalwear) (Designer: Stella York) (@missstellayork)

Wedding Gown Alterations: Jennifer Oberg (@jenniferobergatelier) 

Photographer: Sydney Breann Photography (@sydneybreannphoto)

Hair/Makeup: Sisu Beauty, Duluth MN (@sisubeautyco)

Videographer: Hunter Chear, Chear Media (@chearmedia) 

Wedding ceremony: Enger Park in Duluth (@

Reception: Greysolon Ballroom (@greysolonduluth)

Flowers: Saffron and Grey (@saffronandgrey)

David’s tie: Otaa Australia (@otaa.australia)

David’s tux: The Black Tux (@theblacktux) 

For wedding gown alterations and custom wedding dresses get in touch at love@jenniferoberg.com.

In-Studio Projects

Often we are sharing all of the beautiful wedding gowns we are working on in the Atelier. Today we wanted to share with you a unique project we have been working on. We were recently commissioned to create custom pajamas and bathrobe for a special staff member at Seabury Hall in Makawao.

We were asked to incorporate the school colors of red and blue, but we also wanted to create a restful design. So we focused on the blues and whites and used accents of reds for the details.  We started with a beautiful luxury bathrobe that we restyled into something new. The fabric of the robe is very thick and cozy to the touch. We added a new collar and cuffs made of a royal blue minky fabric. At the edge of the collar and cuffs we added red piping.  The pajamas are made of soft rayon viscose, very silky and comfortable. We lined the bathrobe with the same fabric of the pajamas so the whole set was coordinated. In theory, the bathrobe could be reversible, too!  Having the right fabric makes all the difference, especially for something like pajamas and bathrobes. You want to be sure to have the coziest fabrics available.

Then, to really personalize this bathrobe and pajama set, we added custom embroidery on the pocket. Our Atelier team member, Lynne, has an amazing embroidery machine and she graciously brought it into the studio for this project. We did several samples to test out different fonts and designs until we finally came up with a design we loved.  It was an embroidered heart on white satin, with the words “Wrapped in Seabury Love” in red to match the red piping.

Here are some photos of the embroidery tests and the final designs of the robe and pajama set…

If you are interested in embroidery, please get in touch with us. We have the equipment for this and are happy to help out with any embroidery needs. Send an email to love@jenniferoberg.com for any embroidery inquiries.

Promotions at JOA

At Jennifer Oberg Atelier, we feel incredibly lucky to have such a strong team behind all that we do. In the last year we have grown our studio in immense ways. This in part is due to the wonderful team making all the nuts and bolts of having a sewing and design studio run smoothly and efficiently. We are thankful to have so many talented and highly skilled team members working at the Atelier. And with this, we are thrilled to share three new promotions at JOA: Elaine Gima as Head Seamstress, Sophia Gallegos as First Hand, and Lynne Donaldson as Alterations Specialist. 

These three team members have gone above and beyond in the work they do at the Atelier. We are so honored to have them working for us. We can’t wait to watch them continue to grow in their roles and to see all the richness they continue to add to the Atelier. 

Below our JOA team members with their certificates of promotion:

Elaine Gima holds a long and rich background in designing custom hand painted silk creations on Maui. Her designs under the name “Gima” are cherished by their owners. Her extensive expertise in sewing and design, and her ability to lead with patience and grace has earned her the new role of Head Seamstress.

Sophia Gallegos is an aspiring fashion designer with a strong natural talent. She has been working at JOA for the past year and a half. In this new role as First Hand, Gallegos will be learning more about draping, patternmaking and advanced sewing. She is a senior in high school and will be pursuing fashion design in college.

Lynne Donaldson, a dedicated and loyal team member, has the meticulous eye and attention for detail that the work of an Alteration Specialist demands. She has a wide variety of interests in sewing and design, including custom embroidery and dance costumes. In this new role, Donaldson will continue to hone her skills on wedding gowns, special occasion gowns, and other items.

Quote from Jennifer Oberg, Master Dressmaker & Founder of Jennifer Oberg Atelier: 

I’m so grateful that Elaine Gima, Lynne Donaldson and Sophia Gallegos are part of the JOA team. They are a pleasure to work with, thoughtful, creative, and reliable. They care about doing the best job possible, and enjoy helping our brides and clients look their best. They also care deeply for the community and volunteer their time for The Sewing Hui of Maui.

 

Real Weddings: Lisa

If you have been following our All About Bustle Series then you may remember the gorgeous Folded Fan Bustle we shared! Bride Lisa just shared all of her beautiful photos from her wedding day so we had to share her dress in action and some more about the alteration process.

Lisa had a beautiful wedding at Hui No’eau in upcountry Maui. She got married on May 29th, 2021. 

For her wedding gown, the JOA team assisted Lisa with wedding gown alterations. First, we shortened the straps and then we made them detachable. This was a very nice feature, as Lisa had the freedom to choose whether she wanted straps or not on the day of her wedding. Next, we hemmed three layers of this multiple layer gown. The outer layers of the gown were fine but we needed to hem the innermost layers so she could walk comfortably. After, we created a folded fan bustle for her dress. We attached all the skirt layers together so they acted as a unit. When it was bustled, it fell perfectly together. You can read more details about the folded fan bustle in our bustle series here. Lastly, we steamed and pressed the gown after all the wedding gown alterations were complete.

Check out some of these incredible photos of Lisa on her wedding day. All the photos are captured by the talented Maui-based photographer Bethany Dawn.

And here is a cute photo of Bride Lisa with her bridesmaids helping with the folded fan bustle.

Congratulations on your special day Lisa! It was a joy to work with you!

Embassy Ballgown Recreation Series – Part 2

Continuing our dressmaking tale of recreating the Embassy Ballgown, we have the elaborate process of researching and discovering many mysteries along the way. After discussing with the bride about this exciting wedding gown assignment, Jennifer immediately set off to find all the information she could gather on this iconic gown. Many hours were spent on research and development for this gown. 

Jennifer had high hopes of finding the actual gown from the 1964 film for inspiration in her recreation. However, tracking down the actual location of this gown turned out to be quite the scavenger hunt. Jennifer tried to locate the gown through her connections in Hollywood from her time working on various films and tv series as a costume shop supervisor. But much to her surprise, no one knew where this dress could possibly be. Warner Brothers did not have it in their costume vault. It was not in any museum. The head of the UCLA Costume Department said the gown had most likely been auctioned off, and was in the hands of a private collector. On the internet, the rumors said that this gown was actually borrowed from a person in the UK and was then returned back to the original owner after the making of the film. To this day we still have yet to find out where the original Embassy Ballgown is located. If you know where it could be, let us know. The mystery is yet to be solved!

Another exciting discovery Jennifer found while researching this dress came from Cecil Beaton, the Costume Designer of My Fair Lady.  He wrote a diary of his experience working on the film.  Jennifer found this entry about the Embassy Ballgown:

Wednesday, 19 June (1962)

“This afternoon, however, Eliza’s ball dress was pinned, in rough form, on a stand for the first time. This is a dress that everyone will see. Agnes has the responsibility of creating this gossamer shift. She started to cut the sequin, crystal and chenille embroidery from a genuine 1910 evening gown which will be an invaluable guide for our embroideries. Absorbed in such fascinating detail, I didn’t realize the day was long since over, yet none of the women seemed in a hurry to get back to their homes.” 

So, it appeared that the gown was modeled after a 1910 evening gown that a dressmaker named “Agnes” cut apart to use a guide.  It seems that the gown Audrey Hepburn wore must have been an original gown made in-house at the costume studio.  Jennifer longed to find out who Agnes was, but never figured that out.  If anyone knows about Agnes, we’d love to hear!

After accepting the fact that the gown could not be seen in person, Jennifer set off to find some high resolution photos of the dress in order to really see all of the intricate details. Jennifer ended up spending hours studying photos from Warner Brothers, still shots from the film, and through watching the film over and over again. After gathering as many details as she could from these resources, she came up with a design for this gown. Having the initial vision of the dress was thrilling! She knew this was going to be a very memorable experience in dressmaking and design.

Researching and creating the first design and sketch of the gown was the exciting beginning of a long dressmaking process. We will pause the dressmaking tale here for now, and continue back in part 3 on the process of creating the gown and the many adventures as a part of the creative process. See below for some photos of the research process…