THE FASHION Café by Naulene

One of the first projects given to the Second Years at the Elizabeth Galloway Fashion Academy was part of the SA Fashion Week Student Competition: “My Little Black Dress Became a Skirt” transformation garments.  SPEC – using a natural black fabric with 20% embellishment, design and construct a garment that starts as a LBD (little black dress)…and transforms into a skirt (with top of course). There was a consensus that colour could come through in the transformation and special recognition goes to the employment of a crafter for printing, tie-dyeing or fabric treatment.

I asked Odette to allow me to take photos and answer questions – the project is still in process, and will be completed in time for the Elizabeth Galloway Graduate Fashion Event on June 17th at The Protea Hotel, Techno Park, Stellenbosch.

Odette has designed a chiffon skirt that has a draw-string allowing her to transform the corset and pencil skirt any way she likes, almost sarie style with a separate beaded belt with press studs. The corset patterns, prototyping and embellishment methods including embroidery, tie-dyeing, and printing are part of the syllabus. Challenges for Odette lay in fitting the outfit to a model that was 8cm smaller than the standard size; availability of suitable natural fabric; customizing zips to the corset; keeping the fabric clean and ironed after every procedure and the time consuming embellishing. Odette chose a crafter to complete the beadwork, however the person chosen had over extended and had to let her down in the week before fitting.

This is an exciting design to challenge the second year students, many of whom kept their work secret so as to maintain originality. In every assignment, planning is essential for time management and allowing for the inevitable unexpected problems to be rectified. Putting pressure on creativity with unusual specifications makes the design time so important to really plot out the construction process around an idea. A simple design executed well can lead to more dramatic work in the future buoyed with confidence and experience.


Odette’s transformation dress with beading detail.