"The Devil's Flower", both seductive and scary. That name almost says everything you need to know about my entry, really!
I have always been fascinated by insects and their strange beauty. To me, they represent a whole new universe, both magnificent and disturbing, and an infinite source of inspiration. So no need to say, this year's theme might be my favorite one yet!
The very first insect that popped into my mind as I learned about this year's theme was the one that gave its name to my entry, a creature I had spent hours upon hours looking at: the Devil's Flower mantis. What I like most about it, apart from its beauty, is the imagery it is tied to. In our mind, mantises are a perfect representation of the "femme fatale", a predatory form of feminity that I really love to explore. This is what sparkled the idea of my design. I wanted to create not only an outfit, but a whole character which would embody that vision: a deadly beauty, both alluring and scary, and definitely powerful!
I decided not to integrate the mantis into my design directly, though. I felt more like mixing a lot of elements that I like from many insects (shapes, exoskeletons, the infamous wasp waist, iridescence...), not one in particular. And without me really noticing, it ended up looking a lot like a scarab beetle (which is not that surprising when I look back at my Pinterest board)!
I got particularly inspired by Thierry Mugler's work, as he is one of my favorite designers. I just love the cohabitation between eccentricity, elegance and structure. I think he is the one who has best translated the strange elegance of insects into his work, and that is what I aspired to do. I think that the influence of his aesthetic is definitely visible in my work. I also looked at a lot of Iris van Herpen's creations, for their amazing structure and textures that remind me so much of insects' exoskeletons.
This was a very personal and stimulating project for me, which is the reason why I decided to model it myself. I got to turn into that character that I had imagined and built, and I had a lot of fun doing it! I think I will definitely try to find occasions to wear that dress and feel as powerful as I imagine my Fleur du Diable to be.
I could very well have named this entry "The corseted dress that made me want to set myself on fire"! I decided to just dive into what this contest is all about: pushing my limits and going out of my comfort zone! It was tough, but incredibly satisfying and rewarding in the end, even if it is not perfect!
First, I decided to create my own pattern from scratch, because for me this was the best way to translate my inspiration. I went for a very complicated and intricate pattern, a corseted dress with an integrated neck corset and sleeves, with lots of horizontal pieces, steep curves and points, and fins inserted in seams pretty much everywhere! I think the pattern that I drafted is the main technical element of my design, and I hope I managed to show its construction in the video attached to my entry.
This piece required three fittings, and I have to say I kind of regretted my choice to model it myself when I had to do the fittings on my own!
As for fabrics, I opted for a black holographic vinyl and a black silk velvet (I just had to use silk for an Insect themed project!). These are two fabrics that really don't behave the same way at all, and I hate working with both... I just love to make my life complicated! I reinforced the outside layer with a layer of black coutil, to which I attached the bones so they would be invisible on the outside. The corset has a total of 24 bones, 12 on each side (a mix between flat steel and synthetic whalebone).
Overall, I am really happy with the result and how closely it matched my original idea. There are some flaws that frustrate me, but I now know how to avoid them in the future and I think I made a lot of progress facing the technical difficulties while drafting and sewing this piece!
It was one of my favorite projects ever, one that felt very personal and rewarding, but also very stressful because I had very little time to complete it. But this competition is always a wonderful experience and a huge step in my learning curve, so everyone should definitely try it!