When I was first approached to help with this process, I had no words. To be given an opportunity to work on something like this, especially as a student is something I could have never imagined. Even our designer, Elaina Wahl-Temple, was pretty stoked just because we had complete and free reign over each piece. She had a game plan from day one which went into effect immediately upon confirmation of the project, and is about to be explained in four significantly abbreviated steps:
First, gather the materials. This was such an exciting step and process in which Elaina had the opportunity to travel, visit her old mentor, gather already-made gowns and new materials, and send them home for all of us to drool over when we saw them.
Second, drool. We examined, touched, and tried on everything. This had to be the students’ favorite part of the process so far. Not only did we get to put on these beautiful gowns, but this was also our first lesson of what they should look like, how they were put together, and how they should be worn.
Third, get to work. Though the statement seems vague, any one of us working or volunteering with this project will let you know that our work is not a simple task. For some of the pre-made costumes, only slight alterations in shape and design may be needed. However, when it comes to what we build, we start from the bottom, up. When I say bottom, I mean big-bustled bottoms and petticoats; to cutting and sewing fabrics; to adding trim, lace, and beading; all the way up to millinery and redesigning of hats.
The details in the attire of the class that would have stayed in the Hotel Ponce de Leon during the Gilded Age is ornate and very unique in many aspects. Feathers, beading, gathering, draping, patterned fabrics and bright colors, even tassels, were all used, many times on the same piece. Even the dressing gowns and undergarments are swimming with little details. As we go on to focus on each of the pieces we build, more of the details will be shown and explained.
No worries, the fourth step was not forgotten. Fourth, our mission is to bring it closer to you all. We went to include the entire community in this project, and not just for the fashion show on September 4th or when it goes on display in the Flagler Room on the 12th. We want you to be apart of this process with us. We want you to see the pictures, read about our work, and ask questions. Follow our instagram @gildedageproject. Comment on blog posts. Share us with your friends. Join our journey back in time to an era dripping in beauty!
Featured Image by Sarah Annay Photography