For Ciara Gan of the Philippines, simply walking into a store and plucking a dress from the rack was out of the question.
Ciara is an artist who loves to paint, so when it came time to find a ball gown for her high school’s graduation ball she knew she wanted to make something herself. Her mother urged her to use her creative talent to hand-paint a custom dress that she designed herself, so Ciara got to work!
“My inspiration came from my mom, who pushed me to make the dress,” Ciara explained. “Because I love to try new things, I thought why not? It was my last big event for school and I had about a month of graduation practices, so I’d be able to focus more on making my gown without worrying about schoolwork.”
Ciara started by sketching out what she wanted the dress to look like. She hired a designer to create the dress body, but when she saw it she didn’t care for how it came out. She went back to the drawing board and then purchased the 13 yards of fabric, crinoline, boning, and Swarovski crystals to bring her idea to life.
Ciara and her mother sewed each panel of the skirt separately. She says the inspiration for the dress came from her own personality with some pop culture mixed in. Since she loves “Harry Potter,” she made the dress green for House Slytherin!
“I recently reread the book Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (which touched my heart) and then decided to paint the orange florals,” Ciara said. “I strayed away from basic roses and dainty florals because although they’re pretty, they don’t reflect my personality. I love the vibrancy of loud colors like orange and green — they speak more about who I am.”
Once the dress was made Ciara got to work painting the floral design. It took about 5 days to draw and paint the 80 flowers that cover the gown. After all her hard work, Ciara was finally ready to unveil her secret creation at the graduation ball. She says her classmates were blown away when she walked in. No one could believe she’d made the whole dress herself!
“When I first showed up at the event place, my one classmate took a double take to make sure what he was seeing was right! He told me, ‘I thought it was printed!'”
After the success of seeing her friends’ reactions, Ciara decided to post pictures of her design on Twitter. Within hours the post took off! Admirers from all over the world began to follow her and ask her to design custom gowns and murals for them, too.
“What I appreciate the most about this whole thing is the requests for commissions and artworks. It really warms my heart to see people appreciating my art.,” she said.
Ciara is such a talented artist! She even had someone commission her to paint a wedding dress. It’s not easy designing clothing, much less wearable art like this gown. We’re certain this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from this talented 17 year old!
Watch the video below to learn more about Ciara’s design process, and don’t forget to share with the aspiring fashionista in your life!
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