From A Garden Party To The Old West…

Not all gorgeous gowns are for the ballroom! Here’s one of the latest Lily Absinthe gowns I finished, all Summer 1883-ish, inspired by the summer picnics painted by Monet, Renoir, and Tissot. She’s several layers of dyed-down cotton batiste, with silk band trimming, bows, and sashes. All the ruffles and ruches are double hemmed for movement, two have double ruched headers, and the rest of the dress of course, hand finished. Owner, Odessa Red, image from Vanessa Photography.


So what was our inspiration? Well, it started here:


Claude Monet, “Women in the Garden”, 1867.


James Tissot, “Spring”, 1878


James Tissot, “Spring 1878”.


Edouard Manet, “In The Garden”, 1870

But I didn’t just stop with a few paintings, I also looked at a few specific garments:

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And Voila, the dress itself!



In our atelier…


Odessa Red in at “Shootout on Whisky Row” in Prescott, Arizona.

Now one may think that a summer dress is simple and far less complicated than a ball gown or evening dress but nothing could be further from the truth. First, all the skirts still have proper hem facings, and the bodice is boned and both skirt and bodice are all hand finished- YES, hand finished. Second, the dress fabric was not originally a beige-like color but rather it was a hard white red floral print and the red was far too intense. In order soften the colors, I dyed it in a 1/2 bath of peach/beige and the end result was that the white was muted into a shade of beige and the hard red color of the floral print was warmed up.

The inspiration for our designs is often found in France, far across the ocean, but our heart is still in the American West. It gives me great pleasure to be able to bring the two together as I was able to do with this dress. Fashion design is a constant process of borrowing from the past for inspiration and while two designers may borrow the same idea from the past, the products they create will alway be uniquely different.  I look forward to designing a dress just for you. 🙂

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