The Art of the Bride

IMG_8916 There’s something truly beautiful about a bride, and whether it’s a female or male bride doesn’t really matter. There’s a certain joy you can see in the hopeful light of a bride’s eyes – one they carry as a beacon toward an unknown future together. For those that choose to embellish the matrimonial celebration with loads of frippery, you’ve got more balls than most. Still, bringing about a choreographed staging of various teams and family members into one setting takes great savvy, but at the end of the day, we are all left with one single question: “What did the bride wear?

Mel Odom's Gene Marshall - Phoenix - by JAMIEshow

Mel Odom’s Gene Marshall – Phoenix – by JAMIEshow

And so it came to pass that my client requested a vintage-inspired wedding gown for Mel Odom’s Gene Marshall. How could anyone pass up the opportunity to make Gene’s wedding dress (though others have been manufactured, I can assure you none were like this)? I wanted the model to match the sublime beauty of the ensemble, and unable to secure a JAMIEshow Gene Marshall doll such as the gloriously elusive Phoenix, JAMIEshow generously loaned me a model with the perfect Scheherazade wig cap in strawberry blonde. Thank you to JAMIEshow – you have truly given Gene a new life and a lasting legacy of elegance.

Miss Marshall arrives for her fittings...

Miss Marshall arrives for her fittings…

For the vintage bride, I struggled with simplicity. You know how I love frippery in all its glory – but this needed to be an architectural piece, using simple lines. I scoured through images of 1950s wedding gown…and then came across this:

Demure, no?

Demure, no?

I liked the lines of this dress…but added a plunging neckline. The top was interpreted as a bolero, but as I found out with the lace choice I made, inset sleeves were not practical…but I get ahead of myself

IMG_8924

My interpretation…

Of course, there had to be a sweeping train – they are somewhat hit or miss with the 1950s dresses – but add the train I did, because I had to add my own touch to the en-sem

Werq it, gurl...

Werq it, gurl…

Through all the cleanness of the gown, there was still time to whore it up just a bit…with her underwear…and that’s where I could really make it sing. Yes, yes…I know it’s all covered up – but even with human wearing apparel, there’s a certain satisfaction of knowing what’s underneath – and dolls are no exception.

I'm watching Game of Thrones while drawing this...

I’m watching Game of Thrones while drawing this…

I believe this type of teddy is called a ‘merry widow‘ – and for a miniature variation, it was necessary to make sure the bulk and lines stayed cleanly under the garment. I chose a lovely French embroidered lace I picked up in Lyon, and added pale blue silk shantung – the images barely show the blue, but it’s there, trust me. Something blue, indeed… IMG_8929 To begin the corset, I needed a fit pattern – and since I had none that would work with Gene’s proportions, I started from scratch… IMG_8932 IMG_8937 IMG_8934 IMG_8938 IMG_8939 The lace was like sewing air – and I should have used tear-away backing as I would with the bolero – but it had enough traction under the presser foot, so I proceeded… IMG_8940 IMG_8942 IMG_8943 IMG_8944 And to borrow a phrase from The Women, voilà! Our new lace foundation garment – zips up the back, and no bonesIMG_8941 IMG_8947 IMG_8946 Moving on to the embellishing, lace trim was added, then garters, lace-trimmed hose…and of course, beading… IMG_8958 IMG_8960 IMG_8961 IMG_8964 I ‘cheated‘ a little with the hosiery, absconding a manufactured pair from some generous doll – and added the lace, sewing it while on a leg form… IMG_8966 IMG_8968 I was pretty amazed a the amount of scraps that were piling up…and I still had the petticoat to make… IMG_8967 And oh…what a petticoat it was… IMG_8980 IMG_8982 IMG_8984 IMG_8985 IMG_8986 IMG_8990 IMG_8991 IMG_8992 IMG_8993 IMG_8997 IMG_8998 IMG_9001 Horsehair braid gave delicious shape to the skirt, and a rich lace trim almost made this a dress in and of itself – with a rather daring display of her ta-tas, that is… IMG_9003 IMG_9004 But this is what makes it an all-encompassing vision – the undergarments. It’s rare enough that we see them so beautifully realized in manufactured form, especially with the rising costs of overseas factory work, and the ever-fading doll accessories from leading doll makers. Lingerie like this not only brings an authentic touch, but they do actually serve a purpose in bringing shape to the final look – despite it being miniature. Who cares that you can’t see and appreciate them…she knows they are there. Now it was time to drape the toile in muslin… IMG_9008 IMG_9009 IMG_9012 IMG_9013 IMG_9015 The first set of pin tucks worked, but on the side front and side back panels, the line was skewed. To correct this, I discovered that a slight curve in the tuck would straighten the appearance in the final… IMG_9019 IMG_9023 So before finalizing the pattern, I cut one more truncated version to test the new tucks… IMG_9257 IMG_9259 IMG_9261 Now we were ready to roll. The client asked for ‘true white’ – that is, a white fabric that had a bright, almost bluish purity to it. There are a million shades of white commercially available – and silk was a big problem, because you just can’t get it that white (well, that, and it will age over time, dulling the brightness). I turned to my friends at Mood Fabrics for the final solution (and a HUGE shout out to Ginny who was so patient with me via text message as she sourced silk samples from Paula’s Fine Fabrics in Jacksonville, FL – it helps to have friends in strategic places). Both Mood and Paula confirmed my fears – you just can’t get silk in a bright shade of white. You can get it pretty pure – but not that blue-tinted, bright white that I needed. Mood (and Ginny) sent me several swatches of silk and synthetic fabrics to compare:

IMG_9096

Synthetic and blends on left – pure silk on right…the lips mark the final choice…

We chose a rayon/poly blend taffeta by Vera Wang that had the desired brightness, and wouldn’t fade over time. It had a lovely rustle to it – and a sumptuous hand, considering its synthetic nature. I couldn’t help thinking of art paper when I first started working with it. But as the client pointed out, it was rather ‘period‘ to use a rayon blend for a 1950s wedding gown.

Thank you, Mood!!!

Thank you, Mood!!!

Meanwhile, while the wig was ordered from the multi-talented Ilaria Mazzoni. I have admired her work for Kingdom Doll, Numina and others…and felt she was the only choice for this project: IMG_8917 To clarify the wig shape, I sent Ilaria sketches: IMG_8951 And this is the mastery she created:

Custom wig cap for JAMIEshow Gene Marshall by Time of Doll - Ilaria Mazzoni

Custom wig cap for JAMIEshow Gene Marshall by Time of Doll – Ilaria Mazzoni

The idea was to permanently sew the veil/skull cap to the wig, so the doll could be dressed in a complete look, and it could be stored together. And as I awaited the wig’s arrival, the dress began to bloom… IMG_9267 IMG_9270 IMG_9271 IMG_9273 IMG_9275 IMG_9277 IMG_9281 IMG_9282 IMG_9283 IMG_9284 IMG_9287 In many of my gowns, I add a panel to the zipper assembly to hide the gap between the hook and eye at top, and the beginning of the zipper…it’s a nice touch… IMG_9288 With the lining in place…and final fittings over the lingerie (yeah, it’s under there)…the bride truly began to glow. IMG_9291 IMG_9290 IMG_9294 Now…about that pesky bolero…. IMG_9296 The French lace I wanted to use was too open in its structure, and it precluded elaborate seaming. I could have used a stabilizer, but that would inhibit the transparency over the skin. With this in mind, I approached a shrug-style solution… IMG_9298 IMG_9300 To assist with the machine seaming, I used paper as a stabilizer that I could tear away – there are specially made paper materials specifically for this purpose out there – but I used regular typing paper – hey, it worked. IMG_9301 IMG_9302 IMG_9303 The sleeves and bolero edge were unfinished, using the pattern of the lace as a guide, and reinforcing with fray check to make sure it wouldn’t unravel. The neckline was beautifully realized from the finished selvage. And we all know this little trick when getting tricky sleeves on a doll:

I wish I could say I invented this technique - but I did not...

I wish I could say I invented this technique – but I did not…

IMG_9307 Finishing the bolero with the closure and bow made it complete. I will say a friend pointed out that the bow is too big – and I did give the client the option of re-making the bow if a smaller version was desired…because it’s all about making my clients happy, right? IMG_9308 Topping Miss Marshall off for her final nuptials was a simple layered veiling, finished with a serger (creating an interesting, almost lace-trim effect, also used in the petticoat underlayers) – spot beading was added to the final for added sparkle… IMG_9310 IMG_9312 And just when you thought it couldn’t go any better…and after sending progress pics during all steps of the construction to my client with nothing but accolades on the results – I send images of the finals as you see above, and the invoice for the balance – and the client rejected it. In all fairness, the client did send the balance payment, but expressed disappointment over the final design, saying it was too contemporary, and it didn’t really look like he expected a late 40s/early 50s wedding gown would look..perhaps I could sell it, or he would take it and sell it? Really. I don’t know…maybe it was the bow…? IMG_6747A And so it is with a resounding ‘fuck you‘ I say to that client – I’m happy to refund your payment. What once began as a triumphant beginning to the Tommydoll Club, now has it’s Inaugural Member of the Tommydoll Blacklist. And note that my terms and conditions for commission work is now updated to say there will be a non-refundable deposit. I will honor the original terms and conditions of those that commissioned work and promptly sent a deposit – but I will caution all you once again – don’t fuck with me. leiagif And so…I am happy to announce that this outfit is now SOLD to another buyer.

Amour – to fit JAMIEshow’s Gene Marshall – ensemble includes gown, teddy, hosiery, bolero, petticoat and veil (necklace and bouquet are not included – unless you just have to have them). If you’d like to see more images of Amour – click here.

One-of-a-Kind AMOUR Bridal Ensemble by Tommydoll to fit JAMIEhow's Gene Marshall

One-of-a-Kind AMOUR Bridal Ensemble by Tommydoll to fit JAMIEhow’s Gene Marshall

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22 thoughts on “The Art of the Bride

  1. Artist vs Business Person and Artist won out. I totally understand wanting to make something so much more than what is asked for. But it’s risky. If the Artist creates and then offers , the Artist makes all the decisions. If it’s a commission, there are, and should be, boundaries, and the item has to conform to the boundaries. I think your kind of mind should just create and offer. Why put yourself through that? I know, rhetorical now, but something to think about going forward. A commission isn’t worth it if it’s going to make you crazy. You can’t please everyone, you’ve got to please yourself. (credit Ricky Nelson for that last).

  2. Hmm, gee, that wedding dress looks like 1950s to me, either that or I’ve wasted all that money on a fine arts degree. The client’s loss I would say, it’s a beautiful dress (plus undies!) and I can’t see any problem with it, nor does it look contemporary. I think the client must be thinking of Kate’s wedding dress (you remember her, that British girl, married a prince), which was specifically modeled on Grace Kelly’s wedding dress of 1956. I could bore you to death with an explanation of post-modern appropriation that confuses the historical and contemporary and stuff but best not.

  3. This is weird Tommy, the dress looks too modern? the guy doesn’t know a thing about fashions from the 50’s!
    The dress is marvellous, so marvellous I’m speechless, all the details and the underwear OMG!
    Too bad I only collect small girls……
    and thanks for sharing the pictures of the process and patterns, I’m learning a lot!

  4. Of course, I’ve caught up on my reading and I know the end result, but first and foremost, I wanted to add my praises to the already long list of accolades. The dress is absolutely breathtaking. I love the idea her wearing a merry widow corset underneath it all as well as the lace trimmed petticoat. For me, the changes you made (lowered neckline, shrug and train) were lovely modifications to the original gown. On the other hand, I would have gone with ivory silk instead of pure white and I don’t think you needed the bow at all. But then again, that’s just my personal taste. But I do love your attention to detail right down to the wig. I cannot imagine someone not loving and wanting this dress unless they were blind (and even then they could feel how nice it is) or a total jerk. Darling, the dress is drop dead gorgeous. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

  5. First of all, your taste is exquisite here. The realization is delectable. Someday your things will go at auction and people will go nuts for them, like wonderful dollhouse creations that are one of a kind, never to return in this lifetime.

    Your client must have a different concept of 1950s bridal gown. I cannot think of another era that this dress would hail from, that special mixture of sophistication, perfect proportion, and breathless innocence. The unique feeling of anticipation that the lovely bride package inspires. (I could easily see Liz Taylor in the movie Father of the Bride (1950) in it—except that plunging neckline would be too much for such a YOUNG bride. But on Grace Kelly? Without a doubt.) Perhaps if your dear client wanted Audrey Hepburn in that ballerina-like cocktail-length Roman Holiday dress, something sleek and bouncy, he should have specified! (A very modern and sleek look, with a Christian-Dior “new look” feel.)

    Also, many people are so loose in their ideas of eras, I wonder if he was thinking of the 1960s instead? (The 1940s wedding dress styles are so indistinct to me, I can’t imagine that’s what he meant, those wartime make-do frocks, employing grandmother’s old Victorian dresses with remade necklines.) So many odd ideas criss-crossing there in the 1960s, only to end up making a bride look like she was 12 (even Jackie O, or maybe especially Jackie O in that awful bridal minidress—miles away from what she wore at her first wedding). All those empire waists and stitched on daisies and flat shoes and shoe bows worn on the head. (Can you imagine a Courreges wedding dress? The woman would have looked like a Space 1999 surgeon, ready to operate.)

    I hope I made you laugh a little.

    The exquisite pain of creativity at the highest form lies in not being understood by the client. Well, this is one of the fine doll heirloom dresses of tomorrow, and we, your fans, know this instinctively.

    • Thank you so much! I just don’t know what he expected when he saw progress pics throughout…it’s a learning experience. Loved your snapshot of wedding gown designs…such eye candy to the soul!

      • Hmmm. A bit of bipolar perversity, perhaps. One never knows who is wrapped too tightly or just not tightly enough. Or had some friend look at the finished product and say, in one of those tight voices, “oh, that’s ghastly. It looks like something my grandmother wore. I wouldn’t pay for that.” That kind of focused snottery is all it takes for some people to jettison their “taste” and take on someone else’s. You mention in another post that it seemed somehow possibly deliberate…I hope not, but eventually, you will make up your mind about this and see if it meets that special pattern of nastiness that only develops in the fullness of days and months and years.

  6. You are a genius; the client is obviously an unpleaseable ass! Bet sex with him/her is a horror! Lol! Sorry, very inappropriate! I am truly in awe of your creation and talent! Keep being amazing and I will keep visiting!

My blog is satire, but your thoughts are welcome!

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