How It's Made - Victorias Secret Angel Wings; Magdalena Frackowiak "Snow Angels"
I am so excited to begin my new blog - How it's made!
Before we begin, make sure you see How it's Made - VS Angel Wings for my introduction on this blog topic and my role in making these wildly elaborate creations!
Back in 2013, I was in my final year at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I was working on my senior collection for my BFA in Fashion Design; with a focus on Special Occasion.
I had always wanted to be a part of the iconic Victoria's Secret Fashion Show since I was a young teenager, where my interest in fashion design began. I was determined to land this job at some point in my career. I had applied to a company internship and was turned away, but this only made me more determined. I reached out to the head designer of the show directly, sending my portfolio and a well thought out letter and was thrilled to get a call inviting me in for an interview.
Once my foot was in the door I was determined to make an impression. I dedicated all of my time and focus on succeeding at my dream job and to eventually set myself into a paid position. I worked thoughtfully, paying close attention to detail and my skills began to shine amongst my fellow colleagues, and I was given more opportunities to be inventive, resourceful and creative.
Working in fashion, there is SO much more problem solving than I ever imagined! Who knew I would LOVE this part of the job? There was a design for a feather cape that the team was having a difficult time fitting into the budget. I was terrified as an intern to come forward with what I believed to be a good solution but after my internal fight between self-doubt and feeling unqualified, and believing in myself that I had something to offer, I decided to speak up and share my idea and was surprised by the positive response I received.
The problem was that the cape needed to be double-sided so that the model could swing it around as she walked, twirl and have fun on the runway! Double-sided fabric saturated in ostrich feathers is extremely expensive and the pattern was over 30 sq ft! My idea was to purchase an open net fabric of white or silver color to construct the cape, and then hand-stitch ostrich feathers by the yard onto the net.
Ostrich feathers by the yard are much cheaper than purchasing a material saturated in feathers and netting is quite cheap as well. Not only would this be cost-effective on its own but I figured if the feathers were on a loose netting, we could then pull some or half of the feathers through to the other side which would accomplish the double-sided element without spending double the money.
After presenting my proposal (as an unpaid intern at the time), my superior looked at me thoughtfully, considering what I had said and to my shock, told me to purchase a small number of materials, and make a sample and show the designer at the next big production meeting. This made me terribly nervous but also excited as interns very rarely had the opportunity to converse with the head honchos of the VSFS, let alone present them with an idea.
Of course, I went through the necessary stages over the process of thinking "what did I get myself into?!" and "I can't pull this off, I'm just an intern." I still struggle with these thoughts some times, but I pushed through and believed in my skills, trusted myself, and let my confidence take the lead.
I did what was asked, and had to figure out more than one solution along the way, but when my sample was presented, I got the go-ahead. I felt elated and couldn't wait to get started on the final garment. It was not long before my boss sat me down to tell me that she would like me to become an official (paid) full-time member of the VS Design team!
I worked around the clock on the project and eventually acquired help from interns, showing them the technique. I was given the responsibility of overseeing the project. We made quick progress as we had all hands on deck to complete the precise sewing of fine feathers inch by inch.
The final touch was creating the fitted shoulders and fountain shaped neckline that was sculpted with a shoulder-pad base with a basic collar and finally shaped with thoughtfully placed turkey feathers.
We held fittings periodically, making small changes as it transitioned from bundles of material to an exquisite, flowing and fluffy wing-like garment. The best part was that so many of the models, as they came in to be assigned their looks for the show, wanted to wear the cape—my cape!
I was thrilled when I heard that Magdalena would be wearing my cape. It was a pleasure to work with her and see my piece come alive the first time she tried it on.
As we anxiously waited backstage for the show to begin, I went around to make the final checks on all of my garments and of course, snapped some photos in the process.
Then it was SHOWTIME!! I couldn't have asked for someone to better do my cape justice, Queen Magda worked it!!
Curtains fell, and that was a wrap!
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