behind the scenes of The February Dress shoot
A FLOOD OF INSPIRATION
HOW IT STARTED – One year ago this week, I was walking the streets of London with Garrett. We were on a trip celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary and it was a dream come true; we were loving it! We had been planning a big trip with just the two of us for our ten year anniversary for years. Six days in London and two in Paris combined to make an incredible vacation. There were a lot of things that I wanted to do and see in London, but #1 on my list was Princess Diana’s dress exhibit at Kensington Palace. We bought the tickets to the exhibit before we even booked our flights. Seeing Diana’s dresses up close and in real life was better than I hoped it would be. I could see the fabric up close–the beading, the embroidery–and I could view sketches made by the designers as they planned out each dress. When I left the exhibit, I was inspired beyond words.
The next day on our trip, Garrett had a ticket to see Chelsea Football Club play, #1 on his list. Due to some weird challenges related to how they do tickets, he was only able to get one ticket to that match, so we decided he should go alone. It ended up being perfect for me because that meant I had an entire three hours to myself to explore Liberty of London Fabrics, one of the most amazing stores I have ever or will ever step foot in. Five floors filled with every fabric imaginable. The top floor was filled with couture gowns hung from the ceiling. I even saw the inspiration dress I used to make a pattern for my 10 year anniversary dress.
Seeing the Diana’s dresses and exploring Liberty of London sparked something inside of me. I was inspired by the beautiful fabrics and the incredible details behind great gowns. It rekindled my desire to sew, and it felt like the beginning of something big. I swear I took more pictures of dresses and fabric in that store than I took during the rest of our trip. My mind was racing with ideas for dresses I wanted to design and make. Where would I wear them? What would I do with them? Who even cares? There was a flood of inspiration and I felt a need to create.
THIS IS IT . . . RIGHT?
That night I couldn’t sleep. I scrolled through my phone looking at pictures of dresses and fabric, and more ideas raced through my mind. The next morning I woke up, opened my phone out of habit, and checked my inbox. There in my inbox was an email with the subject line “Project Runway.” It was from the show’s casting director! In the email he said that he had seen my work online and wanted to know if I was still designing. If so, he wanted me to consider applying for the show. I thought “This is it! This is why my brain has been going crazy.” It was almost like I knew that email was going to be in my inbox when I opened my phone.
The application process is lengthy! Like, 2-3 hours of questions kind of lengthy. We were on vacation! We were running from place to place and I had to figure out when I would be able to fit in time to complete the application. Each night, we would get home feeling exhausted from a day of exploring, and I would get on my computer to work on my application. And every time, the internet crapped out on me. It would take 5 minutes to load a page, or it wouldn’t connect to the wifi at all. I would sort of get it to work for a minute and then it would drop for an hour. The application deadline was before we returned home, and I searched for internet hubs, but taking all that time to apply while on vacation didn’t sit right with me.
I emailed back the producer and said I was so sorry and asked if there was any way they can accept my application after the deadline so I can do it when we are home. He responded right away and said they would extend the application date a full week! Yes! But then . . . ugh! The further I got into the application, the more I thought . . . “what if I do get on the show–what then?” I thought of spending 6-10 weeks away from my family. No phone. No work. Everything would be on pause for an indefinite amount of time. It just didn’t feel right. I started questioning whether or not being on the show was for me, whether it was really my dream for this time in my life.
GOING WITH MY GUT
In the end, applying for the show just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t leave my family for that long. I didn’t want to! I love being at home with my kids, and I love the flexibility of being able to work around my kids’ schedules. So I thanked the casting director and politely declined, letting him know I decided not to apply.
But the DRESSES! All of the dress designs that flooded my head in London were still keeping me up at night. I couldn’t get the idea of making dresses out of my mind! Why did this whole thing happen if it was just going to lead to me not applying to Project Runway? It was a weird moment, but somehow there was still clarity. I was inspired to create amazing dresses. I was not supposed to go on Project Runway. In a way, it was contradictory, but I still knew deep down that this flood of inspiration was supposed to lead to something big.
A MONTHLY DRESS
Shortly after deciding not to apply to Project Runway, I was thinking about how I could still make the gowns that were stuck in my head. Then, it hit me. What if I do my own modified version of Project Runway? On the show, contestants are challenged to make clothing inspired by something. They have a limited amount of time to come up with an idea and execute it. I thought to myself, “Maybe I can do something like that on my own.” I have wonderful Insta friends who check my feed and read my posts for various types of posts, but by mid-2017, many of my readers didn’t know I could sew. It had been too long since I pushed myself to create.
In another flood of inspiration, it all came to me. I want to make and design beautiful gowns. My blog and Instagram give me a platform. I can incorporate sewing into my blog again by challenging myself to make dresses inspired by whatever is going on around me. Hey! What if I do a dress every month?! But I didn’t want something simple. I wanted it to be hard! I wanted to challenge myself! It can be fun to just “sew something,” but for this I wanted to make gowns. Pretty, elaborate, complicated gowns.
But why? For what? How dumb am I going to feel making this couture gown and wearing it . . . well . . . I wouldn’t have anywhere to wear it! Then, I started toying with the idea of a theme for the gown. If I could push myself to make one gown a month . . . what if that particular month was my inspiration for the gown. With a theme . . . or a series. Maybe I wouldn’t look so crazy sewing a fancy dress each month if the dresses were part of a series!?
After that, the idea for The October Dress just popped into my head one day. The idea of a raven feather stand up collar, a full tule overlay creating a really unique silhouette. Once it hit me, I thought about it constantly. Oh, and it was July. There was no reason to be planning an October dress in July. But I couldn’t get it out of my head for the next few months.
Finally, it was October and I knew this was it. I knew that if I was going to start a dress series it had to be now. I also knew I wanted to show the creation of the dress somehow with video, and that’s when the idea for a timelapse video popped into my head.
I went to work designing, looking for inspiration, shopping for the perfect fabric at the LA fabric district, booking a studio, and sewing The October Dress. It was just how I pictured it. We rented a fog machine, I hired a make-up artist and photographer, and I brought that dress to life. After that, I was hooked. The more I thought about the next few months, the more ideas, designs, and colors came to my mind. I immediately knew what I wanted to do for November, December, January–it was all coming at once. It became a true passion. Maybe an obsession.
prepping for The October Dress shoot
The Monthly Dress Series is now my favorite series I have ever created on my blog (with my Dressing the Bump Series being a close second). With each dress I create and shoot, I morph and tweak and polish how we execute the presentation. “We” because it’s not just me. I have an amazing team helping me. Since The October Dress, I have hired an assistant to be there right alongside me as I hunt for the perfect fabric. The additional help has really allowed my creativity to jump to the next level.
We introduced the Behind The Dress series in January after an unbelievably hard shoot. (NOTE FROM GARRETT: Lol, that was a hard shoot.) Shooting the dress was just as intense and complicated as making the dress . . . so why not show it? Now, we reveal an episode of Behind the Dress a week following the launch of a Monthly Dress. It’s a fun peek into what it was like when I found the perfect fabric and what a hot mess I was trying to sew everything on time. It’s a great way to take you along with me on the journey. In addition to January, we have released Behind The Dress episodes for The February Dress, and The March Dress.
I have now created six dresses in The Monthly Dress Series, and will reveal the seventh, The April Dress, tomorrow. If I thought I was excited about October, November, and December . . . that was nothing compared to the excitement I have for April, May, and June. These dresses have been so much fun to design, and each dress has a story to tell. I am in love with the process of creating something from an idea and bringing it to life through photography and video.
THANK YOU FOR ENJOYING THIS WITH ME!
Thank you so much for following along with me on this series so far. If you watched my Q&A over on my insta stories a few weeks ago (I now have it saved in The Monthly Dress Highlights), you know my goal with this series isn’t to skimp or save on fabric. I am all in.
The fabric has to be perfect. The location has to be perfect. From the jewelry, to the makeup, to the hair, to the color of my nails . . . everything about this series is calculated and planned. I have been fortunate enough to team up with some dream brands to help bring these dresses to life. Each detail coincides with the month for a particular reason, and I make sure to explain it all in the write-up on each monthly dress post. I seriously can’t wait to show you what we have in store over the next few months, and for the future! Make sure you stop by tomorrow for the reveal of The April Dress!
If you are new to The Monthly Dress Series, you can view all of the completed dresses below. Click on the image to view the full post for that month.
7 thoughts on “THE MONTHLY DRESS SERIES: HOW IT STARTED”
I have a hard time focusing on…anything really, and I was GLUED to reading this whole post even with multiple interruptions and it totally gave me chills! Love the story behind the Monthly Dress Series. Love the Monthly Dress Series and everything about it! Thank you for sharing your amazing gift!
Your story is beautiful n inspiring. I love the way how Dedicated n disciplined u are….. it’s not easy to plan for a new design every month and work on it on schedule. Congratulations for keeping your self motivated and keep up the good work. Lots of love ❤️
Oh Leanne how I adore you and your passion to live your life with true intention and purpose!!! I’ve been following you for what seems like years!! I believe I stumbled upon you throughout instagram when I started sewing and selling products online. You have always been a great inspiration of mine! Honestly I had lost interest in following you because I am not as interested in shopping and fashion as I am your sewing, although I would see a shirt or dress you were wearing that looked amazing, comfortable and I had to buy one in each color. Thanks for the monthly dress series and sharing your new found love for creating, it is so inspiring and refreshing to know that focusing on your family does not have to mean that you give up on your dreams. You are teaching us all that your passion will find you and be even stronger when you embrace the things that are make important! I am slowly figuring this out! I am predicting that you look like a couture rain cloud with a rainbow streaming from your bodice. Cheesy? Maybe but impossible…. maybe not for you!!!! Love love love this POST and your positive influence on me and others!!
That are **MOST important
This is so cool! What an inspiration!
This is SUCH a cool idea! I was also going to try out for project runway but just don’t want to leave my family that long. Tucking my kiddos in at night fills me up in a way that would completely deplete me if I was gone for over a week.
But those dresses! They are absolutely INCREDIBLE! I love how each one is so completely unique.
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