Grand Prize Winner: Elsa Schiaparelli by Kathleen Soltow
Who was your design inspiration?
Elsa Schiaparelli, the late 1930’s.
Describe your entry in detail: fabrics, techniques, etc.
My Schiaparelli inspired “Flowering Tree” evening ensemble has a forest green taffeta gown with a sweetheart neckline and a fitted long skirt, flared at the hem. At the back, the gown has a brown taffeta inset tree trunk whose “roots” form a small train. The cape is forest green velvet, has the exaggerated shoulder line typical of the era, and a brown taffeta appliqued tree trunk and limbs. It is lined in Schiaparelli’s signature color, “Shocking Pink.” The blossoms are individual fake flower petals, dipped in metallic pink paint, then glittered, and attached with crystal beads.
What was your goal when entering the challenge?
To push myself creatively.
Explain your creative process in this challenge and tell us what you learned by participating?
When I googled “Fashion Icons” and saw Schiaparelli on the list, I thought, “Well, of course. I love her!” The idea of a flowering tree with tree trunk and roots came to me almost immediately. Getting from Point A to Point Z, however, was another matter. The notion swirled around in my head for months, with all the usual self-doubts: is this a stupid idea? Are fake flowers tacky? How on earth am I going to do those roots? When the deadline was close, I just buckled down and got to work. I do my best under pressure… (The “model” was a joy to work with. She never moved a muscle, and didn’t have an ounce of flab on her. She could stand still for hours, and never complained about pin pricks.)
How would you advise someone entering the challenge for the first time?
Jump in…the water’s fine! Also, anyone intimidated by the draping process (as I was,) know this: a half-scale mannequin is exactly that. Reducing a paper pattern by 50% will fit surprisingly well. That is how I finalized my gown’s draped bustline.
Is there anything else you would like to share about the challenge?
This was all about challenging myself. I was satisfied when my design was finished, and very pleased that others liked it, too. Winning was just gravy! Oh, and that brand new Babylock Sashiko sewing machine is kind of cool, too.