If Elizabeth Hawes designed a 21st century wedding dress for an Elf

Guess what?

Shell’s getting married!

Remember Shell?  She was on the South Island Road Trip, and the tramp of evilness and has modeled the Japonisme dress, and the nougat corset.

And now she’s going to wear one of my dresses for her wedding!

First we had to decide what her wedding dress would look like.  Some clients come to me with a clear idea, but sometimes we work through a design process.  This was the latter.

The first thing that played into the dress design was the ceremony location: Shell is getting married at Rivendell.  OK,  Kaitoke Regional Park, but it’s exactly where they filmed Rivendell for Lord of the Rings.  It’s a stunning location, and Shell and her fiance are both total geeks, so I wanted to create a modern day Elf-Queen dress for Shell.  Something that looked like it would be worn by an elf, but without being costume-y

Shell wasn’t sure what she wanted her dress to be like, but she knew she didn’t want a white dress.  We looked a bunch of pictures and she liked some aspects of a few commercial gowns.

We loved the skirt of this Elie Saab dress. The bodice - not so much

We liked the ruching on this Jim Hjelm frock. And kinda nothing else...

This Liancarlo dress also has great bodice ruching

These are very modern dresses, and the whole point of having me as a dress designer is that I am a historical seamstress, so of course I had to take some inspiration from vintage designers and design techniques.

For Shell’s dress I was particularly inspired by Elizabeth Hawes, and the way she drapes on the mannequin, includes witty design concepts, and often has fuller skirt backs than fronts.  Also; colour!

"It Is My Own Invention", Elizabeth Hawes, 1937, Metropolitan Museum of Art

With these things in mind, we did a simple sketch: strapless (with possible attachable straps), sweetheart neckline, ruched wrap-bodice, dropped waist, skirt with fullness transitioning from front to back, moderate train:

Our design sketch

The  design is quite simple, but will really come alive with the right fabrics, and with a few very special additions that the sketch can’t quite capture, but which I can’t wait to show you.

Oh, and there is one more thing to include in the dress design.  It needs to look like a native New Zealand bird.  Specifically a kereru, our native wood-pigeon:

New Zealand kereru. It doesn't look like much until you realise it is the size of a chicken.

It will not, however, look like a kereru in the sense that this wedding dress looks like a swan:

Giles Deacon wedding dress, Spring 2012

So that’s what I’ve been working on!  Elizabeth Hawes does a 2011 wedding dress for an elf queen, inspired by an endangered pigeon.  I can’t wait to show you how it will all come together!


  1. jackiead says

    Can’t wait to see the finished design of this modern day Elf-Queen dress inspired by the New Zealand kereru bird.

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