Model: Kitty Krell
Photographer: Ginny Di
Last year, I watched the competition unfold with rapt attention. I'd thought about entering at the last minute, but nothing quite clicked. When this year's theme was announced, I jumped all over it. I knew I wanted to work with iridescent materials, and after thinking about butterflies initially, I decided to go almost exactly in the other direction. Instead of light and airy, I went dark, heavy, dramatic. I wanted to create a look that spoke to chitin, a hard exoskeleton and very sculptural. The scarab beetle became my starting point. After that, I worked to design an extremely sculptural ensemble with new materials I'd never worked with before.
This ensemble features a seven panel overbust corset pattern that I've worked and reworked over the last six months. Five different corsets were made leading up to this final piece: three to refine the pattern, and two to test the material, a gorgeous holographic black vinyl. To push the cast of the ensemble more green, I added reversible sequin godets, scaled sequin appliqués, and actual beetle wings.
The skirt is a four panel mermaid skirt, with quarter circle godets between panels. Somehow, though the skirt was made from the same pattern as another skirt I've made recently, it wound up nearly 10" too small in the back! So I had to get creative. I decided to add a lacing panel to the back, and not only did it work better than my original plan, the gap wound up nearly perfectly matching the gap of the corset! The lining features about 50 yards of horsehair braid to help achieve the sculptural look I wanted, as well as having horsehair in the hem of the top layer aswell.
This was also my first time creating a posture collar! I wound up creating a point that rises in the front much like a stag beetle, which was a happy accident. The "wings" were custom varigated dyed emerald and blue, and all the brass scarabs featured were patinaed by hand!
It was magical and stressful! It's always wonderful getting the chance to really push yourself, and this was an incredible opportunity to do that. You'll never know just what you're capable of if you don't push!