Behind the Seams ~ Designing for the Red Dress MN Event

This was my 2nd year designing a dress for the Red Dress MN event.  I don't usually do custom designs but it's for a great cause (raising awareness and money for women's heart health) and I love the women I've been paired with as my models. Last year it was Natalie Nyhus of WCCO, and this year I had the pleasure of designing for Alison Kaplan, the fashion editor for Mpls. St Paul Magazine and co-host of the weekly radio show Shop Talk. 

It's nerve racking designing a custom anything for anyone, much less a fashion editor. The Red Dress MN event is very well organized, and while we had months to sketch, pattern, fit, tweak, and come up with our final design, I knew I wouldn't get it done until the last possible minute. Because that's just how it is.

In December I met with Ali and showed her several options and we settled on one. The weekend before the dress was due, I kept seeing a different dress for Ali in my head. But I knew I didn't have time to do it., so I tried to just put it out of my mind.
When Monday morning rolled around Emma cut the fit sample for the original dress. But I just kept seeing Ali in my head in this other dress...so, at about 1 pm (Ali was coming at 3) I said to Emma, "I think we can do this" and I sat down and started making a totally new pattern. 

The original design looked very nice on Ali, and she was polite and said she liked it. But when I showed her the then half-finished fit sample of the new dress...she was pretty excited. 

We just went ahead and made finals of both dresses and on Wednesday, 2 days later, she tried both on.

The first one looked great. 

But when Ali put on the 2nd dress, you could just see her light up. I think she wasn't just being polite. I think she felt amazing and she certainly looked it. It's really important to me that if I'm designing a dress for someone, not only do I want them to look gorgeous in it, I want them to feel like it's THEIR dress. And you can tell that the moment they put it on. 

I turned in the final dress and sketch (the Red Dress people frame the sketches as a gift for each model from their designer) 2 days past deadline, one day before the event.
Emma took my place that evening because unfortunately, my former assistant's wedding was at the same time.

Which was magical and lovely, but that's a different heart story. 

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Here's to heart health in all its forms.

Xo,

Laine




I Went Red!

Saturday I was honored to be a part of Minnesota's Red Dress Collection, a night of fashion and philanthropy raising money and awareness for women's heart health. 

Natalie in KOKOON. A twirl from Viking's Greg Jennings was icing on the cake.

Natalie in KOKOON. A twirl from Viking's Greg Jennings was icing on the cake.

This is a gala event that matches designers with local celebrities, and I was lucky enough to be paired with adorable WCCO anchor and reporter Natalie Nyhus. We hadn't met previously and we clicked immediately. If you're going to custom make a dress for someone, you just hope they appreciate your aesthetic and don't steer you towards fabrics or silhouettes that you wouldn't usually associate with your brand. Since KOKOON is all about comfortably feminine dresses, I wanted our red carpet look to reflect that, and Natalie was all for it.

Detail of the fabric and trim

Detail of the fabric and trim

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First fitting...worked beautifully!

First fitting...worked beautifully!

At the final fitting, we had to keep it under wraps until the runway show.

At the final fitting, we had to keep it under wraps until the runway show.

Since I was traveling a lot and Natalie has a busy work schedule, we were able to condense the entire process, from sketch to completed final dress in one week. Natalie brought a cameraman and did a behind the scenes feature for WCCO, which you can watch here!

Here are some highlights from this magical evening.

All models wore jewelry designed for the event by Realia by Jen.

All models wore jewelry designed for the event by Realia by Jen.

A champagne toast helped calm nervous energy.

A champagne toast helped calm nervous energy.

Fashion Stylist Hollie Mae with Minnesota Red Dress Collection founder and host, Carly Aplin.

Fashion Stylist Hollie Mae with Minnesota Red Dress Collection founder and host, Carly Aplin.

All the designer's sketches framed as gifts to the models.

All the designer's sketches framed as gifts to the models.

The Voice's Kat Perkins waiting backstage.

The Voice's Kat Perkins waiting backstage.

So happy to see Tim Navarro, who appeared on last season's Project Runway!

So happy to see Tim Navarro, who appeared on last season's Project Runway!

The WCCO team all did a great job of modeling!

The WCCO team all did a great job of modeling!

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And the runway show ended with Kat Perkin's powerhouse solo!

And the runway show ended with Kat Perkin's powerhouse solo!

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So grateful to have my handsome husband by my side!

So grateful to have my handsome husband by my side!

Surrounded by 2 beautiful ladies wearing one-of-a-kind KOKOON dresses!

Surrounded by 2 beautiful ladies wearing one-of-a-kind KOKOON dresses!

Our friends celebrating the 10th anniversary of their son's heart transplant that night! 

Our friends celebrating the 10th anniversary of their son's heart transplant that night! 

Such a fun experience and so glad to be a part of such a great cause.

See all the photos here. Photo credit to Rhea Pappas.