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A Dress Is Born

How to create a one-of-a-kind gown.


I wanted a dress that felt entirely my own, so I decided to have one made. After considering what I liked (fitted, V-necks) and what I loathed (strapless, pouffy), I scanned my brain for red-carpet inspiration. The yellow Vera Wang gown Michelle Williams wore to the Oscars in 2006 was a resounding yes. I e-mailed friends for seamstress recommendations and settled on Esin Kirmizidag at Sew Elegant, who had once worked at Vera Wang. Armed with only a printout of Williams, I walked into Sew Elegant’s garment-district studio. Kirmizidag and I talked it out and decided to nix the tulle train. She told me how many yards of material she’d need, and I enlisted designer pal Prabal Gurung to help me conquer B&J Fabrics (525 Seventh Ave., nr. 38th St.; 212-354-8150), where I spent $283.84 (the dress itself cost $3,000 to make). Over the next seven months, I attended five fittings. At the first, Kirmizidag presented me with the muslin, a trial garment used as the pattern. By the next appointment, she had added the chiffon overlay. That’s when it started to feel real—it was becoming the dress. At my final fitting, I was amazed at how comfortable I felt. The gown was perfect: It fit like a second skin.

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