As I sat with my morning coffee today, I was greeted by the chimes of my phone letting me know I had message waiting for me. It was from a client of mine, now friend, Jada Foster, sharing with me a short film and article peeking into the birth and journey of a haute couture dress from Doir atelier. Her words, “Thought of you immediately.”
I was first contacted by Jada in the early summer of 2014 to recreate the infamous lion and bird-adorned wrap dress worn by Lena Headey who plays Cersei Lannister in HBO’s series, Game of Thrones. A project among my own designs that I could not resist! And so, measurements were sent, and the journey of Jada’s couture red dress began!
Patterns were first to be created, by draping the idea of the dress on a dress form, then transferring the information to paper. Once a preliminary pattern had been established, a toile, or muslin mock up, was made of the dress and checked for fit, aesthetics and executablity of construction. Adjustments, if any, were made to the pattern, and the toile process repeated until an acceptable dress pattern was drafted.
Simultaneously, I had to do research on the signature Lannister lions and birds created by Michele Carragher. I knew these pieces would take the longest to create by hand. Hours were spent pouring over photo stills, interviews and even the show itself, to develop motifs that were akin to those on the actual garment.
Fabrics were found, ordered, hand dyed and delivered as the lions and birds and vines began to take shape. Stopping my needlework only to photograph my progress and send to Jada, the embroidery grew and blossomed in my hands for several months.
Oh yes, I am quite aware that some do this kind of embroidery work on machines, as I was reminded by those who inquired with me about my latest projects at that point, and questioned WHY I would do this work by hand. So, why would I choose to do this work by hand? Because with each stitch, I recall and pay respect to the spirits of my great-grandmother, my grandmothers and mother, who all taught me the love and craft I perform, as much as, I think of the special person that will be wearing the piece. Every stitch is a unique piece of myself, my history, my story, that I give to my clients.
In mid October 2014, the dress was officially finished and ready to be finished and shipped. The outer shell and linings meticulously stitched together and trimmed in gold brocade. Lions were sealed, cut from their foundations and hand applied to the hip panels of the gown, as the vines were sewn into place to allow the feathery birds a place to hover around. And, like so many other dresses I have made, Jada’s red dress was packaged and secured like Fort Knox, and ready to start the last leg of its journey. Always a bittersweet moment for me.
A few weeks later my phone rang, and I was greeted with a sweet, yet unfamiliar sounding voice. It was Jada, who had called to thank me for her dress! Certainly a special moment that most designers don’t get to experience. To me, that is the reward. To experience the joy that your work has given to someone else, then to be followed up with such a lovely post from her on her Facebook page:
- “…This year I had the honor of working with designer Romy McCloskey of Faden Design Studios to re-create the look of Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones. It was the most delightful collaboration I’ve ever been a part of… All of the costuming decisions had to be made long distance, as Romy currently lives in Texas and I’m in Iowa.
The handmade, one-of-a-kind wrap dress was crafted specifically to my measurements. Made of hand-dyed, deep ruby-red silk and contrasting gold fabric, this gorgeous dress is fully lined in lightweight cotton and features interior and exterior tie closures for a secure fit. It boasts hand-stitched embroidery that was painstakingly performed by Romy’s magical hands with copious amounts of love… For more of Romy’s work, follow her on Etsy, Facebook, and Pinterest. I highly recommend working with her. She’s somethin’ special!”
With immense gratitude I thank all of my clients for allowing me the opportunity to create something as special as you are. With curiosity, I ask those thinking to have a custom piece made, “who is your dressmaker?”
I am currently taking commissions for 2015- please book early! I look forward to making something amazing for you!