Each spring the International Interior Design Associations PA-NJ-DE chapter hosts an imaginative competition known as Fashion Meets Finish, where design teams are randomly paired with materials manufacturers to create a one of a kind runway gown from that company’s products.
2017’s theme was “Battle of the Decades.” Previous years’ themes have included “Raw,” “Sinister,” and “Seven Deadly Sins.” This year makes the fourth time Lia Nielsen has participated as a Design team leader, under Designs for Life, her colleague and husband, Jason Kliwinski’s, architecture practice. Some of our previous year’s entries have included a dramatic gown made from upholstery fabric/leather and wood veneer from Gunlocke and an avant garde dress created entirely from carpet provided by J+J Flooring.
This year we were paired with major manufacturer Certainteed’s Commercial Ceilings group. We selected the 1920’s as our decade of choice, because what’s better than the Art Deco glitz of the Jazz Age. Reps Brooke Altidor, Michelle Schutt-Eng and Ashley Bowie from Certainteed held a charrette with Lia in February to begin brainstorming and selecting which materials would best suit our design.
Seeing as a dress made entirely from ceiling tiles wouldn’t exactly…move enough for a model to wear, Lia ended up peeling fiberglass fabric off of 8 foot acoustical panels to create the base of our gown. We selected a color palette from Certainteed’s Ecophon line, which included black, gray, and rose pink. Lots of trim components and hanging cables would become our “bling.” Inspired by the flashiness of the underground flapper clubs, we wanted our gown to be as glamorous as possible, showing that you can take something as mundane as ceiling tiles and create a wearable piece of art that both moves beautifully and evokes the decade in question.
Draped in the loose flapper style, the entire base of the dress was hand sewn, with the bodice in a fan shape to echo our inspiration. We even lined the entire dress so our poor model wouldn’t get itchy! Pieces of grid connector made up the “fringe” along the hem of the dress, with a fabulous addition of clinking musically as the model walked. The “petals” on the skirt were created in a multistep process of templating, cutting and trimming ceiling tiles, printing a custom gold pattern on them, gluing two pieces back-to-back to keep it looking neat, and adding another metal connector component to ensure the material wouldn’t rip when sewn to the dress. The bodice was decorated in a geometric pattern with yet more metal pieces, bringing in the bling.
Accessories included a dramatic hand-painted headpiece, a shawl woven from hanger cable, and a belt created with pieces of Gyptone gypsum acoustical panels. Our gorgeous model Jasmine Morales young strutted her stuff down the runway to “Rock it for Me” by Caravan Palace. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome!
But that’s not the end! Our dress will be on display for the month of May at the New Hope Arts Center as the centerpiece of their Fiber, Fabric, Fashion II show. From there it will head to Certainteed’s headquarters in Malvern, PA for display.
Congrats and thank you to our entire team!