Wave and Rock



Keowyndrial (KC)


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

I have always loved the ocean and rocky shorelines. A few years ago, I had the chance to visit Kiama in NSW, Australia, where there is a section of volcanic rock where the ocean waves naturally surge through a tunnel in the rock and up into the air, often creating a massive and dramatic plume of spray. That interaction of waves and rock in nature is what inspired the concept for this dress: a “rock” underdress (copper-brown crinkle taffeta) that is very straight and rigid, but with beading to imitate seaweed (beaded decorative straps meant to imitate kelp and beaded fringe along the neckline and torso to imitate rockweed), with a small layer of blue-brown shot crinkle taffeta as a drape to signify the wet portions of the rock, and then on the top a cape/drape in multiple shades of blue and turquoise (aqua organza, white-and-aqua ombre tulle, aqua and gold crinkle organza accents, blue organza ribbons) to signify the textures and colors of the waves themselves embellished with a beaded belt shaped into stylized “waves" as the front drape. I used organza and turquoise ribbon for the ties to secure the various portions of the dress so that the visual texture of the bows and free-flowing ends would mimic ripples and splashes of water. Each piece is designed to move together with yet separately from the others. Art Nouveau illustrations and clothing styles from ancient Greece and ancient Rome inspired the shapes of the underdress and drapes.

Outline the construction…

I draped all components of this dress so that the original rectangular lengths of fabric were maintained in the final product. I strategically folded, gathered, turned under, etc., fabric and then hand sewed that in place to create the fitted underdress (copper-brown crinkle taffeta) and two drapes (blue-brown crinkle taffeta; aqua organza combined with aqua-white ombre tulle; aqua with gold Lurex organza). The greatest challenge was to ensure that the essentially backless “rock” underdress provided all bust support itself. I solved that using a single blue organza ribbon that runs through ribbon loops sewn at intervals around the back edge and whose ends tie at the top of the shoulder through the brass buckle as the only closure. The upper cape portions of the drapes also tie together with blue organza ribbons through the same buckle. The lower “water” portions tie with turquoise and organza ribbons at the side at waist height. The multi-strand necklace bases were used as a collar and decorative strap to mimic kelp strands. The “seaweed” beading across the neckline is the disassembled tassel strands from those necklaces which are held together with brass jeweler’s wire. The two gold multi-layer “wave” bead appliques at the shoulder and on the opposite side under the bust provide visual contrast. I made the “wave” belt from strands of wire strung with aqua glass beads, woven together at the top and the draping ends formed into wave-like shapes, and held around the back by a single strand of silver wire.



1 Comment

  1. Avatar Steffi Wee on May 9, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    What an interesting concept! The construction seems immensely complicated, but you sure pulled it off!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.