The challenge this week for Project Project Runway is called “Million Dollar Runway.” We were to choose diamond jewelry from anywhere on the internet and design a look to go with those jewels. Goodness, was that ever tough! There are so many gorgeous jewels online, I didn’t really know where to start! Recommended sites included Tiffany & Co., Blue Nile, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Let’s just say there was much admiration going on. Still, I wasn’t finding what I was looking for, so I started looking elsewhere. My searches took me to Sotheby’s and Christie’s as I love vintage jewelry, and they get the best of the best. Let’s just say, oh, half a day was dedicated to drooling over amazing jewels. I eventually landed at Fred Leighton and just knew I had found just “the thing.”
It’s a circa 1920’s Art Deco diamond necklace. So beautiful.
Once I found “the necklace” I almost immediately had my inspiration – the Zigzag Modern sub-type of Art Deco aesthetics. (Could I be more pretentious?)
I knew I wanted to design a gown, although gowns definitely are not my strong point; I see myself as more of a sportswear designer. But with what else would one wear such an extravagant necklace? With the gown being a given, I wanted it to feel statuesque, like Art Deco skyscrapers that would show off the jewels rather than overpower them. My inclination was towards a black dress, but that seemed too simple. So I settled on a black and white scheme. I also wanted it to have strong visual, graphic interest. As the Rose Iron Works website describes it, Zigzag Modern, “features repetitive, geometric designs, both figurative and abstract, with zigzags and angular patterns.” So I definitely wanted to include some aspects of that. I’m crazy, but I had a vision of equilateral triangles.
Zhanna walks the runway in a black column dress featuring a black and white triangle treatment at the waist.
Yes, triangles it was. And what a challenge (but in a good way.) The fabric I chose was a thin but crisp taffeta (“party taffeta”?) The triangles are .5″ from apex to base. I used a template for the triangles, drawing them on the fabric with marking pencils. I then Fray-Checked around the triangles and then cut around them with an eyeballed seam allowance. Next, I sat in front of DVRed episodes of Inspector Lewis for a few hours and sewed the triangles together by hand (and I am not a hand sewist!) I then made the upper bodice piece and skirt, and then hand stitched those on as well to ensure decent triangle points. The skirt and upper bodice are very simple to allow the waist treatment and the jewels to do the heavy lifting.
In styling, I wanted to keep things super simple. With an eye-catching diamond necklace and a graphic dress, I didn’t think it needed much else.
So from the Belk Accessory Wall I added the black Vince Camuto Zella Pumps and the ABS by Allen Schwartz Large Stone Set Pave Ring. I’m not sure about the ring, but I thought it might be a fun “high-low” juxtaposition with the real diamond necklace.
In terms of hair and makeup, I think vintage style would be great for the makeup. I’m thinking a touch of smoky gray eyeshadow, black lashes and dark plum red lipstick in a “Cupid’s Bow” style would hearken to the era of Art Deco without being super literal. For hair, I think a slicked back ponytail would be lovely.
Overall, I am ridiculously proud of this look as it is almost exactly what I had imagined. I was really, really unsure if I could pull off the triangles. I seriously spent two or three days thinking about how I could do it before I even bought my fabric. That’s one luxury the real Project Runway contestants don’t have, that’s for sure. I think this is one of the coolest looks I’ve ever made for Project Project Runway. It’s just so satisfying to see the seed of an idea come to fruition. It’s certainly not perfect (my hand stitching skills need some serious work and the seams ended up bulkier than I had hoped) but it is certainly one of the most ambitious looks I’ve attempted. This week I’d like to think I’d be near the top. Maybe not the challenge winner, but perhaps beginning to be noticed by the judges.
Don’t forget to check out the other designers’ looks at the Project Project Runway Flickr page. See you on the Runway!