Juliet Johnstone Layered Dress

Our closing look for the SS22 runway show titled, "Fresh Air."  This is my longwinded post for the show so just bear with me here... we're pretty proud of this one.

A true step out of the comfort zone for both Juliet & I.  Starting a couple seasons back we have worked together on a piece or idea for my shows.  We've done the hand painted chore coats for SS21 (never again, ask Juliet about dyeing them if you get a chance) & a suede bomber jacket with a painting of hers for AW21.  If you aren't familiar with Juliet please take a second and do your research.  She is an extremely talented painter and runs her own clothing business and art studio.

With her focus primarily being on florals and wildlife, it's a natural fit for our styles to mesh.  This season we wanted to do something neither of us have ever done and I'm going to do my best to explain how exactly we did it.

As always, it starts as a terrible concept sketch on a piece of paper at dinner.  The goal going into it was to do a dress out of crystal organza and tulle.  The concept is to take 3 layers of the organza, print them with Juliet's paintings on the 3 separate layers, one type of floral per layer.  Imagine when the layers move over each other it gives the effect of foreground and background & flowers blowing in the wind together.  Printing on such a sheer fabric is scary at first because you have to imagine the colour doubling and tripling in intensity as you add the layers on top of each other and then match the base colour to what the final layered colour would be.  Almost became a math problem.

After establishing the idea, Juliet did some research and found a few things she liked that are native to where we shot the show in Azusa.  She then paints the elements onto papers and canvases.   We photograph them and edit the backgrounds out.  Print it on the fabric with a base colour.  "Simple."

After a few test prints we finalised colours and got our fabric.  The colour of the season for me is this sage/mint green situation so we did our best to get close to that and find a matching tulle.  We got pretty lucky with the tulle colour and got to work.

Going into this, I had no idea how much fabric this would take but I did not expect this much.  A little different than a t-shirt or jacket... 

 Up until now we hadn't seen if the fabric concept actually worked.  Was honestly a little surprised it looked this good.  Now begins the hard part.

Establishing the shape involves a lot of testing and time.  Show is in about 7/8 days at this point.  

Once we got as far as we could without a model, we started casting for this particular look earlier than the rest.  

Show is in 4 days.

We meet the wonderful Oprah Wambui and she is locked in as our girl.  The fitting was incredible to watch.  We sized the dress to her and then began the process of trimming excess tulle to achieve what we wanted.  Hilary, who is the incredibly talented seamstress who sewed this dress sat in on the fitting with us.  Oprah would walk back and forth down the studio and we'd watch how it moved.  When she got back to Hilary, she'd snip a couple inches off a certain place and Oprah would walk again.  We did this about 30-40 times over an hour.  At this point Juliet looks pretty happy which is what counts here.

After we finish the fitting, Hilary takes the dress back to her studio and finishes it.  In the meantime we finalise casting, do the fittings with Savannah for every other look, and work the run of show knowing we're ending with this dress.

We get the dress the night before the show and pack up the collection.  Keep in mind we haven't seen the final version on Oprah yet but trust Hilary.  The ongoing theme of the week is Juliet & I would listen to Hilary, pitch our own idea, work through the ideas and about an hour later realise Hilary was right from the beginning.  Anyway! 

Show day.  Dress looks amazing, Oprah kills it, everyone's happy.  Like I said at the beginning of this this was going to be my long winded post of the collection so if you made it this far thank you!  It was truly terrifying and really fun working on a new level of piece for the brand.  

I wish I had a more conclusive end to this little story but that's how we did it!  Endless appreciation and respect for Juliet.  Truly one in a million.

- Reese

Side note: 

If you caught it, we made an anorak & button down shirt out of the excess organza a couple nights before the show.  Anorak is in look 32 and the shirt is Juliet's personal.

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