Fabric-Free Mother-of-Pearl and Swarovski Crystal Dress
Gail Be, American, United States, 2007
This unique dress and its beautifully matched headpiece are made exclusively from shell, vintage and modern Swarovski crystal beads and metal findings. It contains no fabric, weighs an astounding 31 pounds and took 8 months to complete.
The base of this dress is made with metal jump rings and then covered with thousands of dyed mother-of-pearl shaped leaves. To give this dress a polished and elegant finish, the edges and all the accessories were enhanced with perfectly matched vintage and modern Swarovski crystal beads.
Each leaf was hand drilled and then meticulously secured to the metal base, one leaf at a time. Because this dress was so heavy and kept ripping, we had to solder the base for the first time in my design history.
The headpiece alone weighed 8 pounds and gave Shannon a headache within minutes of putting it on, so one of us had to hold up the end of it between takes to relieve the stress on her neck. The heavy weight of the dress cut deep into Shannon's shoulders no matter how much padding we added, yet the leaves feel fantastically smooth and we all kept petting her.
One of the things I enjoy doing when creating my designs is to make the materials I work with look like something else. From further away this dress looks like it is made from feathers. When you hear this dress worn live it sounds like a musical instrument, each leaf tinkles like a tiny bell.