When was the last time you wore a gown?
Probably prom, maybe a commencement ball; a Quinceanera, or a military ball. Luckily, I somehow managed to choose relatively classy gowns for the few proms that I attended, but I suddenly get a bad taste in my mouth when I think about the um.. heinous dresses with every neon color in the rainbow vomited all over it, with over sized sequins sticking to said color barf. There were the cutouts in weird places, exposed navels, ass-crack windows. Various regurgitations of zebra and leopard print–giraffe if you were feeling wild. And then, of course, there was the hair. Severe. Too tight, sky high, crunchy curls. Whatever, it’s awful. But who cares, right? You just want some attention. It doesn’t get much better in adulthood. How many insane outfits do you see on celebrities on the red carpet that are just bat shit crazy? The need for attention is so great that they pile on the crazy in the hopes of getting some buzz. The issue is that the buzz-just like the crunchy hair- is cheap. High school is all about fitting in, I guess, so the curls and neon and all the thing that you will undoubtedly regret immediately are acceptable. But I feel like I am always in search of the right amount of crazy in my adult wardrobe. One of the most difficult things to do successfully in fashion (and otherwise) is to strike the right balance between showing off something fresh and original and going way off the rails into costume territory, which we know is disastrous. As a stylist, you are constantly aware of who your client is in terms of style, and what event you are dressing them for. For instance, I’d probably strap the boobs in pretty tight in a high neckline for a charity gala, but for a beach wedding, backless!
So here’s the thing, if I were given the opportunity to attend an event that called for such a gown, or (more likely) if I were to style someone for such an event, I would choose the dress pictured above. Is it a risk? sure. But nobody cares about safe. It’s boring and it certainly will not get your client (or you) any attention. Because let’s face it, we all revel in a least a tiny bit of “you look fantastic” attention. My focus lies on how to make such a bold dress work in a normal (as in non-photoshoot) setting.
This dress is insane in the best way possible. The color, the cut, the material. The amount of care that went into making this….from the sketches to the craftsmanship…is incredible. it literally glows. The gown is by Jean Paul Gaultier from his autumn/winter 2014 Haute Couture collection. The metallic paillettes mimic fish scales and give the garment the appearance of liquid flowing down the body, reflecting light in all the right places. The cut is so careful. A strong shoulder follows down the arm as the sleeves fall just a bit longer than normal. The spectacular color flows so freely from silver to gold to red to purple/navy. With a dress like this, you need to respect it. So what kinds of accessories do you pile on such a dress? none.
What is so successful about the art direction in this shot is that there is absolutely nothing here to district from the focal point–the dress. No necklace, no crazy hair, no bold makeup. That’s your answer. Naturally, not all of us (myself included) look like Karolina Kurkova. You also probably can’t go barefoot to whatever black tie event calls for this look. So go with slicked back, straight hair and no jewelry. Nude sandals are cool here. Natural makeup.
This photo is from an edition of Vogue Espana titled “La Gran Belleza” by Nico Busto
Respect the dress and it will do the work for you.