When DBI was approached by National Wallcovering to team for this year’s Cosmo Couture event, we jumped at the chance! For those not familiar with this event, local designers are sponsored by manufacturers to create a couture dress made from the manufacturers’ products. The design teams have two months to create their dress from concept to construction. Each team’s finished design is showcased at the Cosmo Couture runway event at Artisphere, as one of the team members has to model the dress on the runway. Winners are then announced in four different categories: Haute Couture, Best Performance, Most Creative, and Audience Favorite. Once the winners are announced, the dresses are displayed in a special exhibit at the Corcoran Museum of Art. This year’s design theme was the painting, “Red Star” by Raymond Saunders.
With a lot of work ahead of us, the design team started by researching the Red Star painting and the artist. We met with our sponsor from National Wallcovering at the Corcoran Gallery where the painting was on display to see it up close. Being able to see the painting in person gave us a good idea of Saunders’ use of materials and overall process, which inspired us the most.
Taking the idea of Saunders’ process to create the painting, we applied this same process in creating the dress with a plan to create it layer by layer; each layer with a different material, fold, shape, etc.
Once we established our concept, we began collecting images via Pinterest to draw inspiration. While reviewing the images as a team, we started sketching. We compared our individual sketches and decided which elements we liked as a group, eventually refining our final idea along with our written concept.
Once our design concept was finalized, we began choosing wallcovering samples that met the criteria for our design. With tons of colors to choose from, we honed in on primary colors used in the painting. Wallcovering was also chosen by how it could be manipulated, folded, shaped, or moved.
The bottom layer of the dress established the foundation and overall form of the dress. Using red acoustical wallcovering, the design team folded each panel stacked on top of the layer below to help shape and create density underneath.
The next layer incorporated vinyl wallcovering as each panel was shaped to a point to mimic the star at the forefront of the painting.
The middle layer was the focal point of the dress as it was detailed and constructed intricately to really stand out. Using variations of white wallcovering, each team member sewed many little star-like patches that were hand-sewn onto the dress one by one.
Finally, the shoulder piece made from variations of blue vinyl wallcovering was a variation to our original concept, but the outcome was not at all disappointing.
The nervousness leading up to the event was all forgotten once the models were dressed and took the stage. We were so proud of our model, Masha, who really stood out amongst the crowed and made sure the audience took notice of the dress’s movement, form and precise fit as she strutted down the runway. The design team was ecstatic to see our concept come together and presented seamlessly. Most importantly, our team was very proud to be a part of an event that raised $15,000 for My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter for women.
We would like to thank our sponsor, National Wallcovering and their representative, Kate Kenwell, for their incredible support throughout this entire process. Also, we would like to thank KARMA Beauty Lounge for providing flawless hair and makeup to our model for the event.