Chrysler Building Gown
Photographer: Patrick Cashin
Model: Genevieve V Beller
Assistant: Lisa Jordan
I was producing a show at New York’s 54 Below last February, and of course bought a new dress for the occasion. All silver and black sequins, arranged very architecturally, I immediately dubbed it the “Chrysler Building” gown.
To my dismay, it was an epic social media fail because, even though the designer label didn’t read “Ivanka,” it could indeed be recognized as an Ivanka gown—rebranded. Stuck now with a dress I could no longer return—let alone ever dare to wear in public again!—I decided to transform it into a true Chrysler Building gown.
My colleagues (and good friends) Genevieve Beller (NYC) and Maria Thilo Mancini (Lecce, Italy) were incredibly encouraging throughout the entire process of repurposing this gown into a one-of-a-kind stunner featuring the New York City skyline. We started with our shared love of electric blue, which brought to life the idea of creating an entire skyline.
The original gown had to be taken apart very carefully. Any tears in the netting would make every step of putting it back together again extremely challenging. Each sequin had to come off one by one also—it took an all-nighter of binge-watching 2 seasons of “Ozark” on Netflix!
For the first fitting, I used the old lining of the gown and added a midriff piece, which would ultimately become the hand-beaded skyline all the way around. Three more fittings, and I was ready to repiece the netting overlay. Several yards of white, blue, and silver fabric were used to create the new gown beneath the original netting.
I researched illustrations of the Chrysler Building and New York City skylines and combined them to create the skyline for the midriff. I then spent many hours at a copy machine to figure out the correct building sizes. The different-sized paper patterns were pinned to the gown during the next two fittings. Next, I flat lined all the pattern pieces and left them uncut so they could be hooped for beading in different hoop sizes.
After that, the bead hunt was on to properly match the Chrysler Building. I did all the hand-beading myself—and several hundred dollars, seven fittings, and several hours of sewing later, the gown was done!
Every stage of the process was photographed as well, so I’m extremely proud to submit my transformed Chrysler Building gown for your consideration.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
Why not! Show off your work to new people who have not seen it :)