Wild Card Prize - Use of found materials for a truly ambitious design with layers of meaning for the maker as well as in the book




Rebecca Dee


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Photographer- Jeffrey Dee, Model- Rebecca Dee

Outline the story …

"Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on, testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade, and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn of the labyrinth..."

I love Anne Sexton's version of Icarus, in "To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Triumph. " Reveling in the brilliant attempt, "who cares that he fell?" Leonardo's flight machines, which also didn't work. My own sometimes spectacular failures, in my work and my private life.

Walking in the last old-growth forest in Manhattan with my family, whittling branches and finding some peace during the pandemic, building a way out of the labyrinth for my son and me with things we find lying around. Of course, according to the myth Icarus didn't do his own building, and he was male. But this is my character now.

My design process here was different from my old approach, which generally started with research and a proper rendering of some sort. Instead, I sketched in my planner and thought about designing over a curve of days, rather than arriving at an answer as a fixed point. I found myself finally understanding why people use pinterest- a place to collect vague notions and look at them. Illuminating my thought process for myself via collage. Found objects in photo form.

Inspiration also came from a basket of odds and ends I saved from one of my biggest and most beloved failures- colors and textures I wanted to make part of something brave and new.

Outline the construction…

Icarus's wings were made from branches I found in Inwood Hill Park, fitted together with piano wire pins, epoxy, rawhide lacing and white glue. Feathers were another found item of sorts- samples I'd made years ago and forgotten, fused and painted silk organza. The wing membrane is cotton voile and gauze. The pull cords are dyed dacron and the handles are pine and leather lace.

The stays/harness are double-face linen over muslin, boned with reed (which was a first for me), bound and seamed with leather, and couched with various mostly cotton cords and twine. The shoulder straps are quilted leather and tie with leather lace. The pockets at back that hold the removable wing contraption are fos shape covered in leather. There are self-made leather buttons with lacing that sit under the shoulder straps and help support the pull of the wings. The interior of the stays have two belts at waist and underbust to ease dressing/lacing up, and I built small crescent bust pads that sit above the latter.

The shift/gown is open-weave linen over crinkle cotton and cotton voile, distressed with sandpaper and ombre dyed with coffee. The sleeves, which were extensively pieced, are supported by an inner sleeve and ribbon, and the puffs are tied with leather ribbon. All the eyelets on the stays and shift are hand-sewn (another first!) Painted wooded beads are knotted on to the cotton twine drawstring.

Gloves are leather and lacing over a second pair of cotton bobbinette.




  1. Avatar Rebecca on March 11, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    It is such a thrill to see my work here, shared so beautifully by the Foundations Revealed staff, and in such wonderful company! An immense amount of work is represented in these pages. I’m proud to have contributed to it in my small part.

    If you are perhaps interested in seeing more images of Icarus, please feel free to visit here:

    If you’d like to see a photo blog of the construction process (no text) i’ve compiled that here:

    I’m also working on a video project of the build, which I will post a link for if I can figure out how to do it!

    Thank you, Cathy Hay and everyone at Foundations Revealed, for creating this space for us to share what we make. Good luck to everyone! I can’t wait to see what you’ve done!

  2. Avatar Heather McGreal on March 11, 2021 at 10:48 pm

    Wow!!! This is amazing.
    Not just the execution but the design idea is phenomenal

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 12:53 am

      Thank you so much! The design is very personal– it means a lot to me that you connect with it.

  3. Avatar Caroline on March 12, 2021 at 12:26 am

    This is seriously stunning! The whole outfit has so many details and how it flows is just gorgeous! 🥰💚

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 12:56 am

      Thank you! I loved having the chance to focus on details. And it was so much fun to wear out on a windy day! (though it was cold!)

  4. Avatar Mary Jo Ernst on March 12, 2021 at 1:19 am

    My fave! Every detail is perfection , I couldnt love this more Well done!

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 3:39 am

      you are so sweet! and supportive! i’m glad icarus and the moon lady got to meet. <3

  5. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 12, 2021 at 2:44 am

    Oh my Faery Godmother this is breathtaking! I love how the piece echoes Icarus, the ombre dye offering an almost muddied effect. Like you’ve fallen, but gotten back up, and stand unbowed in undeniable beauty. Tremendous!

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 3:37 am

      Thank you! I’m so happy you understood what I was trying to convey with the dyework– means so much to me to be able to share my work and find that connection!

  6. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 12, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Wonderful job! I love how you incorporated bits from “failures” into this new and marvelous creation. Transforming things can be a great way to view them in a new light– even things we thought were failures.

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 7:45 pm

      Thank you! Failure was a crucial part of my process, from character and concept to my experience building it– redeeming bits and pieces of my material past, finding the courage to jump! I’m so glad that aspect spoke to you.

    • Avatar Clara on March 17, 2021 at 9:57 pm

      Dear Rebecca,
      I love your interpretation of Icarus, especially the detail work on the stays!
      The costume makes you look very powerful and I can just imagine you taking off and flying away with those massive wings (but stay away from the sun, please :D)!

      • Avatar Rebecca on April 1, 2021 at 1:18 am

        Clara, I only just saw your comment. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  7. Avatar Charlotte C on March 12, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    Just stunning. Love the wings and the couching design on the stays. Ethereal against the snow.

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 7:52 pm

      Thank you so much! Laying out and stitching the couching was one of my last tasks on this project. It was so peaceful, while all that snow was falling outdoors… I’m glad you like it!

  8. Avatar Valarie Olafson on March 12, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    Wow! That is literally the only word I have for this.

  9. Avatar Laurie on March 12, 2021 at 11:47 pm

    I can see this taking flight! Great rustic, yet precise quality. And striking in the snow. Nice literary choice, as well. Very thoughtful. There is courage and resilience here. Very artistic!

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 13, 2021 at 6:43 pm

      thank you. i’m glad you see those things in my work. you’re very kind!

  10. Avatar Amanda on March 13, 2021 at 12:56 am

    Beautiful job on the wings!

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 15, 2021 at 2:19 am

      Thank you Amanda! I’m glad you like them!

  11. Avatar Inge Sahuleka on March 13, 2021 at 6:08 am

    It’s wonderful in every aspect. I love the whole look of it, the details on the stays and of course the wings!
    Love from Sherlock and Hound😉

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 13, 2021 at 6:45 pm

      thank very much, sherlock and hound! 😀

  12. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 13, 2021 at 9:55 am

    Gorgeous, I love the use of branches for the wings!

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 13, 2021 at 6:47 pm

      I’m so glad you like them!

  13. Avatar Retro Claude on March 13, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Such a beautiful design and beautiful sentiment!

  14. Avatar Rebecca on March 13, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    Thank you! I’m glad you connected with it.

  15. Avatar JAYE SUDAR on March 14, 2021 at 3:15 am

    Amazing. The wings… the corset… The whole look. 🙂

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 15, 2021 at 2:19 am

      Thank you Jaye! 😀

  16. Avatar Heather on March 14, 2021 at 4:18 am

    I’ve been in love with this project since first saw it while browsing the Instagram hashtag for the contest. This is true art and it elicits such strong emotions every time I look at it.

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 15, 2021 at 2:18 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Heather. I’m touched. I’m so glad it means something to you. <3

  17. Avatar Zoe Axford-Whitaker on March 15, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Wow, i love this, its absolutely stunning x

  18. Avatar Rebecca on March 15, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    Thank you Zoe!

  19. Avatar Melanie on March 16, 2021 at 12:07 am


  20. Avatar Laëtitia on March 18, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    This costume tells a story and its character at first sight. What you explain next is a really impressive bonus! Well done!

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 19, 2021 at 2:32 pm

      that’s very kind of you to say! thank you.

  21. Avatar Alora Fox on March 19, 2021 at 10:05 pm

    I have absolutely no words for those wings they are beautiful! The details on the stays are also phenomenal!

  22. Avatar Linda Call on March 20, 2021 at 5:29 pm


  23. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 21, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    Those wings are so cool! Love that you used branches, it gives it a lovely faerie look <3

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 24, 2021 at 1:17 am

      thank you! i love faerie-looking things!

  24. Avatar Peta Pendlebury on March 22, 2021 at 10:48 am

    I love the fact that you have reused fabrics from a previously loved fail. The phoenix really can rise from the ashes. Beautiful and dreamy.

    • Avatar Rebecca on March 24, 2021 at 1:19 am

      thank you! i’m so glad you connected with the phoenix aspect of my project– it was definitely a guiding light for me during the process. <3

  25. Avatar Sarah on March 24, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    This is so cool!

  26. Avatar Giorgio Ronchi on March 27, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    Wow, that’s an epic dress. Well done!

  27. Avatar Kat Cuseo on March 30, 2021 at 3:51 am

    Beautiful! I love the details in the bodice and the wings!

  28. Avatar Rebecca on April 1, 2021 at 1:21 am

    Thank you, Kat!

  29. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    I love this whole outfit! The entire design obviously had a lot of thought put into it, and it turned out phenomenal

  30. Avatar Rebecca on April 3, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you, Lizzie!

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