Cycle of Life



Stanislava Pilkova


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

To me, Natural world is defined by its everchanging nature and cycles that revolve around every living thing. To capture that is a feat as easy as keeping water in one's palm. To solve my problem, I decided that one look is simply not enough. Thus began a search for my muse. My mind finally settled on an image of a willow tree to which I have deep personal connection.

I wanted to portray the transition from winter to spring, from frosty stupor to lush scene full of life. And as nature itself, the design process had been everchanging and evolved over time from twirling transformation dress to modular mix and match dress with potential of adding summer and autumn looks to complete the cycle in the future.

My main focus was on the texture of the wood. Boned and corded bodice represents strong, pronounced and sturdy bark. This echoes on the skirt by using rouleaux trim. Sparkles represent either ice crystals or dew drops and hence compliment both versions.

To solve the problem of two different looks I decided to make all embellishments detachable using brooch pins, magnets and snaps so vibrant colours of the spring version would not ruin the look of the winter version as they would be visible through the tulle overlay.

I included a lattice pattern at the back to honour the memory of my grandfather who used to weave baskets out of willow withies which concludes the design process.

Outline the construction…

Construction began with drafting my own pattern for both bodice and the skirt. This was my first time drafting a cupped boned bodice and my second corset ever. As fashion fabric is lightweight and drapey, it is interlined with cotton twill and lined with linen fabric. I have used premade foam cups and draped fabric over them. It is boned with synthetic whalebone.

I focused on matching and aligning the seams of the cups and boning. Skirt is made out of four panels with straight seams at the centre front and back and curved seams at the sides. Rouleaux trim covers the seams and also matches boning and cording on the bodice. Tulle overlay was draped over the dress using a freeform “smocking” and consists of bodice part and skirt part sewed at a waist. It is embellished with crystal snowflakes.

My biggest challenge during construction was my body. For about a month I had experienced a strong back pain which restricted me from even sitting, not alone working on a dress. That's where the whole modularity idea came to me. As I had no idea how my condition would progress, I decided to focus on the spring version of the bodice, making accessories. And if I had enough time I would work on the winter overlay and after that on the skirt… Luckily, my condition has since improved and I was able to finish the whole look although I had to let go of many ideas.




  1. Avatar Desirée Desirée Holmberg on April 27, 2023 at 7:06 am

    Such a fairytale dress! Love the little dew drops.

  2. Avatar Abigail Lamb on April 28, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    Well done Stanislava, as someone who has issues with time management myself, I totally understand when you say it’s a life long struggle! It looks like you completed this project very successfully. I love the creative leaf straps.

  3. Avatar Angela Karl on May 3, 2023 at 9:08 pm

    Beautiful dress and I love that you can literally shed the leaves and the applications to show the transition between the seasons

  4. Avatar Anna-Catherine Sendgikoski on May 7, 2023 at 6:24 pm

    I love those straps! Brilliant idea! So pretty!

  5. Avatar Holly Holly Delaney on May 10, 2023 at 7:55 pm

    Love this dress! You did a wonderful job in design and execution! And bravo on the cupped corset execution, that was the hardest part of my outfit to make!

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