Read me, read me! This dress made of paper takes two worlds and twists them until they are one: Chanel and The Unconventional. I wanted to represent the physical qualities of the first Chanel tailleur, and represent the social stance she was taking to empower the working woman. To do this I used Chanel fabrics and embellishments for the first, and unconventional materials like newspaper for the latter.
This dress is avant-garde and dramatic. It’s feminine, sexy and powerful. Keep reading the news on this dress, pretty please;)
Putting Pencil to Paper
Ideas run wild in my head all the time. I have one idea that I want to put to paper, so I do, but then all these other ideas come rolling out. I can’t stop it. My idea was to create a dress inspired by the original Chanel tailleur fabrics, while also adding unconventional fabrics to represent her social stance, and make it avant-garde. Chanel took quite a social stance in creating the first female suit. It was powerful, confident and proved that women can be just as productive and worthy of respect as men. Why newspaper? The idea to use newspaper stemmed from a few things: it’s dramatic and creates volume, it’s black & white to match the color scheme, and it’s relevant since newspapers were prominent in the 19050’s due to the labor unrest, and the unstable French government at the time.
The Dress Made of Paper
- Newspaper treatment with vinyl glue and cornstarch
- Black and white tweed
- Dusty rose taffeta
- Gold chain intertwined with black leather
- Black lining
- Vinyl Glue
- Hot Glue
- Sewing Machine
- General sewing tools (thread, needles etc)
Treating the Newspaper
- Treat the paper with cornstarch to make it stiff: Mix one teaspoon of cornstarch with a little cold water. Add one cup of boiling water to the mix and let dry. Lay the paper out flat and coat the entire sheets using the cornstarch mix and a wide paint brush. Once it dries, turn the paper over and repeat the process. Keep repeating until paper is at desired stiffness.
- Treat the paper with vinyl glue to make it glossy: Lay paper flat and paint paper with vinyl glue using a wide paint brush. Let dry and repeat 3 times.
Constructing the Dress
- Making the tweed mini dress: You can buy a pattern for a mini dress, or you can make your own, which is what I did using a draping technique. The dress is strapless with underwire cups, it’s mini and is made with black & white tweed with black lining.
- Attaching the chain on the straps and hem: When the dress was finished I hand sewed the chain straps to the dress and on the hem.
- Applying the paper: I scrunched up the newspaper, some of them more than others, to create 3D shapes. I wanted drama and volume. The base pieces were flatter, while the ones applied on top were more scrunched. For the neckpiece I had to form it appropriately according to the model’s measurements. I applied the paper to the dress using hot glue, SPARINGLY. I didn’t want this to become too arts & craftsy.
- Making the pink taffeta flowers: It took a lot of trial and error to create the perfect flower shape. I used a video on creating fabric roses to learn how. When the flowers were made, I hand-sewed them onto the dress.
This dress went down the runway in 2019 in Paris. It got selected for a Chanel contest awards, and has been requested by anonymous celebrity for a gala outfit, oh wait I meant by hairdresser wanted it.