Local fashion designer Conrad Booker’s couture creations are often inspired by the arts and crafts materials at his disposal.
In the case of this particular dress, it was yards of sturdy paper cord one would use to line upholstery, as well as hand-painted papier-mâché globes.
“Honestly,” Booker told me, “this wasn’t meant to be a wedding gown. I was inspired by this red-and-black feathered Alexander McQueen,” a dress that was part of the late designer’s fall 2009 Horn of Plenty collection. “But then I ended up working with it, and I wanted something fuller.”
So instead of a back closure, he added three-inch grommets to the side, designed to be closed with white plastic bags. He added more volume to the skirt. The result: a ready-for-runway piece that has the drama of a fishtail and the classic feel of a ball gown he named the Mosaic dress.
“I was interested in sleek lines and volume, and the papier-mâché balls added a hint of playfulness,” Booker said. “Playfulness with volume, that’s the idea.”
To see the other dresses included in the Inquirer’s 2017 bridal fashion shoot, click here.
Booker, who graduated in 2016 from the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator’s designer-in-residence program, debuted his Mosaic dress in February at Philadelphia Fashion Week as part of his 17-piece collection, “In the City of Grey Gardens,” a nod to the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens.
Booker, 56, an architect-turned-designer, hasn’t put a price tag on this creation yet. And, to tell you the truth, he’s not sure he wants to sell this exact piece. It’s his baby.
“But I would surely make someone their version of it,” he said. “And it would all be custom. That’s the beauty of couture.”