Fabric Free Beaded Skirt and Vest Ensemble
Gail Be, American, United States, 2005
This sexy and contemporary design is made from over 5,000 Czech glass and Austrian Swarovski crystal beads, and took three people over five months to complete.
All accessories are made from wrapped pieces of dichroic glass and quartz crystal drusies. The main beads are vintage and modern Swarovski crystal with larger points that were actually made to be chandelier parts.
I ended up taking this fashion apart at least ten times, but even with the frustration it taught me many lessons. One important thing I learned was you can not layer different beaded patterns on top of each other. For instance, when you crochet a dress you can wear it over another colored dress it actually enhances the detailing of your crocheted work. This layered look was the initial effect I was aiming for. We completed a top and matching skirt set and then planned to layer a floor length woven vest over them. But when we put them all together the details on all the pieces became muddled and it looked like a huge mess.
I am writing the book on life-size-fully-beaded-fashions. I am well aware of the fact that when I first created my designs I was like the Wright Brothers where everyone laughed and said it couldn’t be done—until someone believed. So I am not only willing to run the first four minute mile, I am proud to be the first fully beaded fashion designer. I may be the first to write down the recipe in print, but like a true Artist, Inventor, and Adventurer--we all self teach through trial-and-error and most of all we BELIEVE so everyone else can too.
Another lesson learned was that this is the first dress that was designed with beads that did not have a reflective shine coming back at the audience, which meant they could see right through it. In my previous designs, which were made with crystal, silver-lined beads or sequins as the main components, their strong reflective quality acted as a barrier. Playing the light off the design itself. Without the usual brightness that flashed back at an audience we had to come up with new under garment strategies.
The bugle beads I was able to get on a trip to the Czech Republic in a remote spot outside of Budapest. I loved the colors right away and how they look like gasoline hitting water. I also get a thrill looking at designs when I used beads from one of my ‘Really exciting’ bead buying excursions. Every time I see them in a design it brings up special memories for me and what I went through to get the beads for that design.