Embassy Ballgown Recreation Series – Part 1

Kendall Jenner’s dress at the Met Gala has us reminiscing on the time we recreated Audrey Hepburn’s iconic Embassy Ballgown from the 1964 film My Fair Lady. This is one of our more adventurous, exciting, mysterious, and elaborate dressmaking stories that we just have to share with you! Due to the length of the process of this recreation, we are devoting a short blog series in order to share all of the juicy details from this dressmaking tale.

A few years ago, Bride Lorri from Austin, Texas, reached out to us about recreating Audrey Hepburn’s Embassy Ballgown from My Fair Lady for her wedding on the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  It had been her dream as a girl to have this dress for her wedding gown.  Her fiance Michael searched online to find the best dressmaker for the job, and came across our website.  We were blown away that they reached out to us, all the way on Maui!  But it was the perfect match. Jennifer had spent years working in professional costume shops in theatre and Hollywood before coming to Maui, so she had the connections to find out as much as possible about the gown.  And of course, she is a master dressmaker.  Sometimes when a person wishes to recreate a piece they’ve seen in a film before, the finished product might appear “costumey”.  But with Jennifer’s extensive background, she was able to make the dress into a true couture gown worthy of a beautiful wedding in Italy.

After discussing with the bride about the vision and details of this wedding gown recreation, Jennifer immediately dived into the long process of researching and investigating this famous beaded gown. And this next part of the story is where the mystery and searching began! But this is to be continued in part two of the series. For now, check out the photos below of Kendall Jenner’s Met Gala gown, Audrey Hepburn’s Embassy Ballgown, and the Bride Lorri’s wedding gown. 

Kendall Jenner at the Met Gala

Audrey Hepburn’s Embassy Ballgown in ‘My Fair Lady’

Dressmaker Jennifer Oberg with Bride Lorri

Lorri and Michael on their wedding day

Bride Lorri in her wedding gown

Inventing the Abbotts

Inventing the Abbotts + 1950s Dresses

When I worked in Hollywood, I made costumes for various films, tv shows, and private clients (you can see the full list here). Inventing the Abbotts (1997) was a fun assignment. I worked on a vintage 1950s dress for Liv Tyler which was worn in the dance scene. The dress was covered in a beautiful small flower trim. It turned out that the dress was too small for her. Our skilled costume shop team had to get creative to find a way to make it fit just right!

We ended up adding panels on the side to make it larger around the body. Then we went on a scavenger hunt for that vintage trim in one of Los Angeles’s enormous fabric stores. Guess what?! We found the exact same flower trim to match the dress! We carefully attached the new trim to the panels and blended it seamlessly with the old trim. It was perfect! The dress fit perfectly and you couldn’t even notice the difference where the new fabric and trim were added. 

Recently, we have been working with a client who had the same issue. She came in with an adorable 1950s style dress that was too small. We took fabric from the skirt and made clever panels on the sides to help extend the dress to fit her just right. It was the exact same problem we had with Liv Tyler’s dress. Steady, careful sewing by skilled artisans make this problem not a problem anymore. It is amazing how any dress–too small or too big–can be altered to fit just right.

Also, fun fact, Liv Tyler is the daughter of Steven Tyler who happens to live on Maui. It is a small world!

A story behind the gown

We worked with the award winning graphic artist, Wailani Artates of Artistry8, on a custom wedding gown a few years ago. Wailani came to me with a clear vision of what she wanted her wedding gown to look like. It is always such a treat to create and collaborate on a dress with another artist.

Wailani recently won her 4th Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for the graphic designs of Amy Hānaiali‘i’s 15th album, Kalawai‘anui, alongside Kumu Hula and fashion designer Micah Kamohoaliʻi of Waimea. We did a Q&A with Wailani to chat more about her custom wedding gown inspirations and process, memories of her wedding, and about her recent award! Find out more below…

Q: What was your inspiration for your wedding dress?

A: Well, at the time, I despised anything sparkly and lace for some odd reason. My tastes were more structured, less traditional. I actually couldnʻt find a single silhouette that had this shape without sparkles. We even traveled to Oahu to find something that sufficed. 

Q: What was the dress design process like for you?

A: Being a designer, I literally took two silhouettes and photoshopped them together to create what was in my head. I then found Jen by googling “seamstresses on Maui” and was so lucky to have found her.

Q: How was it working together with Jennifer? 

A: She is the most amazing person, with or without a needle and thread in hand. We became fast friends andended up creating together at different capacities beyond my dress. She suggested this structured translucent fabric for the bottom half of the dress to provide some texture and it was gorgeous, something I didnʻt think of. She also created a bra in the dress because the back was low and it held up literally so well.

Q: What was your favorite memory from your wedding?

A: My favorite memory was seeing my husband cry when we said our vows. He is a reserved person and doesnʻt show his emotions publicly ever, but as he said his vows he cried. It was unexpected for me and such a beautiful memory Iʻll always hold dear.

Q: Can you share more about your recent win at the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards! 

A: Sure! The Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards is like the Hawaii Grammyʻs. Itʻs such an honor to just be nominated. Iʻve been nominated 7 times and won my 4th this year. The gravity of being a Hoku award winner is huge for me, being on a stage and holding an award that music legends my grandparents grew up with, music that we were raised appreciating, itʻs just so big for me and my family. Music plays such an important role in life, it takes you to a time in your past, an instilled memory. We create these memories for our children and music plays a big role in our day to day from morning jam out sessions to bbq live streams (these days). 

The other part of this event that I love is the fashion. Oh, the fashion!!! Jen and I should get together one year. Every year, my husband and I try to be thoughtful of the album Iʻm nominated for by being inspired by  the experience, the name of the album, or even the artist to honor them and that process in some way. We also love to honor our ancestors and Hawaii. One year we wore kapa, another lauhala. I took my daughter one year when it was too difficult for my husband to leave our baby, and we wore lā’ī (ti leaf) that was treated to look like leather. Always so fun to do it up and try to top it every year. 

We can’t wait to see what Wailani creates next! Such a wonderfully talented artist in the community. We wish you all the best with your beautiful family! Thank you for sharing your insights and reflections with us! Follow her Facebook Page to see what she is up to next: facebook.com/artistry8. And for any custom gown inquiries send us an email! Mahalo!

A story behind the gown

Often people ask if we only design wedding gowns, so we thought we would share more about the other elaborate dresses we have had the joy of creating! We collaborated with Maui artist Hermine Harman on a Queen of Hearts gown for the annual Imua Family Services Gala last year. The theme was the Carnival de Venice Mascheranda Grand Ball! We wanted to share more about this gown we created and the talented artist, Hermine. Find out more about Hermine, her artwork and the gown we collaborated on with her….

Q: Your artwork is often filled with vibrant and rich colors! Can you share with us your inspirations and influences for your art?

A: I love vivid, bright colors and gravitate to them because they light me up and make me happy! [Influences include] My garden, my home, my beach walks, flowers, animals, travel and photography. 

Q: We collaborated on a Queen of Hearts gown for a Gala you attended. The gown won Best Costume that evening! Can you share more about this event and your glamorous outfit? 

A: The fabulous Queen of Hearts gown was created for the annual Imua Family Service Fundraiser last year. They throw the most fun, exciting event on Maui and raise a lot of money for this worthy organization that supports children and families with challenges. The theme was Venice. I was thrilled to be the winner of a weekend at The Hyatt with a couples massage and a sunset dinner on the Beach cooked to our order. The challenging part was walking, climbing onto stage and learning and dancing the minuet! Working with such a talented artist [Jennifer] who was very detail-oriented was a creative, warm pleasure!  Fittings were just simple. The mask I wore, I had purchased in Venice more than a decade earlier!

Q: What art project(s) are you currently working on? What is driving your artwork today?

A: Currently I’ve completed the first three series of a collaboration with Liat Choucroun soon to be shown at the Enchantress Gallery by Bootzie in the Shops of Wailea. Other new work in my Mid-Century Modern series completed during the pandemic will also be on my new wall at the same gallery. I’m also taking another class from my mentor, Nick Wilton during this time. During Covid I competed nearly 20 pieces.

To find out more about Hermine Harman and her wonderful artwork visit her website at www.hermineharman.com. Also, if you are on Maui go check out her new series being presented at the Enchantress Gallery by Bootzie in the Shops of Wailea! If you have any elaborate, intricate gowns or costumes you are dreaming up, get in touch! We would love to help bring your vision to life. Mahalo Hermine for sharing your art and reflections with us. We can’t wait to see your new series!

Fashion History: Art Deco & Erté

Paper dress by Jennifer Oberg. Commissioned by Hui No`eau Visual Arts Center.

I have always been inspired by the artist and designer, Erté. I love his designs so much! Two years ago, I was commissioned by the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center to create a paper dress for their end of the year, annual shopping extravaganza, Hui Holidays. Erté was my primary influence for creating this dress! Find out more about him below…

Born in 1892 in Russia, Romain de Tiroff, known as Erté designed his first dress for his mother at the age of five–a natural talent. Erté left Russia to go live in Paris with the aspirations of becoming a designer in 1910. He worked for Paul Poiret for a year before entering an esteemed illustration career. In 1915, he began his twenty year work relationship with Harper’s Baazar where the magazine included a color illustration by him every month. He created over 240 covers for the magazine! He went on to create entire wardrobes for theatres, screen actresses and Operas. He even created elaborate production designs at the Paris Opera, New York’s Radio City Music Hall and Casino de Paris. 

Erté’s work captured the art deco movement, which was known for having bold geometry, bright colors, order and glamour. Art deco was a very popular design style during the 1920s and 1930s. It drew inspiration from Cubism, Constructivism, Futurism, Bauhaus principles and the de Stijl movement. A significant amount of the architecture, design and art around the world is inspired by Art Deco. Architects Edward Durell Stone and Donald Deskey drew inspiration from Art Deco when designing the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Look around and see where you notice Art Deco influences in your towns or cities! What art movements and artists are you inspired by? Comment below!

Pictured are some photos of Erté’s work! Click here for more information about the paper dress I made for the Hui! 

 

Sources

https://martinlawrence.com/pages/erte

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ert%C3%A9

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Deco

https://www.art-critique.com/en/2020/02/art-deco-art-lesson/

A story behind the gown

Designing your own wedding gown can be a very intimidating and stressful process. Sometimes it is much easier to dream up the perfect gown in your head than it is to display on paper or in words to a designer. My favorite part about dressmaking is the fact that it becomes a co-creation. It is a constant dialogue between the designer and the bride to arrive at each detail and decision. In the end, what becomes created is far more than you could have imagined or dreamed of. 

A past bride, Cory, came to me with a vision of her dress in pencil drawing. The design of her dress was as unique and wonderful as she is. I was so excited to bring this dress to life and make Cory’s vision come true! Every detail was a delight to work on, from the back treatment with the crystal buttons to the collar to the black velvet sash. The experience was wonderful, and Cory was an exquisite bride to work with, too! She was an absolute delight and I was so happy to co-create her wedding gown!

Cory Michelle Hall held her wedding at Hui No’eau on October 19, 2019. Photography featured is by Scott Drexler Photography. 

In Cory’s words: 

“I came to Jennifer with only a pencil drawing of my dress. I had come up with what I wanted on that piece of paper, and Jennifer not only met me with the hope that it was possible, she made it happen! Every step of the way, Jennifer was gracious, incredibly kind and her talent and expertise really shined through in each and every detail. It is such a special time in life but it can be stressful as well. Working with Jennifer alleviated the stress and brought focus on the joy.  Every appointment throughout my dress creation to its fruition, was exciting, comforting, professional and full with the gift of Jennifer’s talent. Not only is her work exquisite with a profound attention to detail and her talent incomparable – she is a caring, patient and beautiful human being. All of these things lent to an overall unforgettable and heart-filling experience. Thank you with all my heart for helping the dress I imagined become a reality!”  -Cory Michelle Hall

A story behind the gown

Behind every wedding gown is an eventful story. The beautiful bride, Katherine Conyers, pictured above had quite the transformation and adventure with this Matthew Christopher gown. 

It is hard to imagine, but this dress started out as a size 12 and then we took it to a size 2! After our last fitting we had every detail of the dress in perfect place, ready for the big wedding day. Katherine looked gorgeous in her dress!

I was on a vacation in France, when I got a message from Katherine panicking about having issues with her dress. A week before her wedding day, her dress had come back from the cleaner with a ripple on the butt, shrunken, and it wouldn’t zip! I called Katherine from Paris, and talked her through each issue. I scheduled someone I knew in Colorado to do new alterations for the dress right away. Before we knew it, it was as good as new and ready to go! Talk about wedding scares! This dress had quite the adventure!

Some kinds words from Katherine herself:

Jen was INCREDIBLE to say the least. She was able to flawlessly take my dress from a size 12 to a size 2. It was a very tricky puzzle for her and she embraced the massive challenge! She went above and beyond for me and I’m so grateful for her expertise, professionalism and follow-through. She is such a talented woman, I drive by her old Denver studio a lot and think of her often. I would recommend her services over and over again.” -Katherine Conyers