Danielle Wilson

clothing design

Little Birds- Peacock

Danielle Wilson4 Comments
Last year I made 4 dresses for an editorial shoot for Milk magazine. Each dress was made by hand and each involved different fabric manipulating techniques. I thought it would be fun to share some of the behind-the-scenes of the processes I used.

Today I am sharing a look at the peacock inspired dress I made. This might be my favorite look because I am a sucker for color, and this rich deep green makes my heart flutter.

sketch by  Chaunté Vaughn

sketch by Chaunté Vaughn

For this look, again I started with Chaunté's sketch which was based on their concept for the shoot. After meeting with them to finalize the concept about a week before the shoot, I immediately went home and ordered dozens of yards of fabric. The peacock needed to look rich, iridescent and luxe, and that called for silk. Many yards of it! I used a very lightweight silk Habotai, which has a lovely rich-- but not shiny, sheen.

So this process was pretty straightforward. I used Dupont Silk Dyes and painted them on to my silk. I first stretched it across a large PVC frame that I had constructed, and used clamps to keep it taught. This is to keep the dye from pooling or creating unwanted marks where it contacts the surface below.  I used several shades of blues and greens to achieve this kind of painterly peacock effect.

It's important to keep the fabric damp while you paint if you want to avoid harsh lines. But really, it's so fun to kind of experiment. There is no one way to do this. I tend to fret over doing things the "right" way, and often that keeps me from getting started at all. But that was the beauty of this project. I had no time to fret! Just jumped in and went for it.

Dharma Trading is a great resource for dyeing. I used their instructions as a jumping off point, and kind of improvised a bit too. Normally you need to steam silk for several minutes in a steam bath in order to properly set the dye. I skipped this step because my piece was so large I couldn't roll it in a way that would avoid setting wrinkles into it in the process. So, instead I put it into the dryer for a while, and then pressed it with my iron. It set the dye, but not as stably as steaming it would have.

I really really love the way this fabric turned out. In fact, I might just remake this into something for myself.  The way the colors so subtly change from green to blue looks so rich and delicious.

Since I didn't know ahead of time the size or measurements of the models, I designed the dresses to be kind of adjustable. I drafted the pattern for this dress myself and I made it two pieces so we could shorten or lengthen it at the bodice. I also made the lining of the bodice a Lycra knit so it would hug her body properly, but have give to accommodate for different sizes.

I love the drama of this dress but I have to admit that when I decided to make one shoulder bare, I was so caught up in thinking about the silhouette-- which I thought looked much cleaner, more balanced, and more dramatic without a strap. But I totally forgot about the fact that my model was 11! Hah! Still, all in all I could not be more pleased with how this look turned out. 

See the editorial in Milk magazine here

My original post here (with more behind the scenes of the shoot)

Model Sydney Burnham

Produced by The House That Lars Built

Shoot photos by Chaunté Vaughn