About a Dress

This story picks up in January when I knew I had to secure a dress for the fab Zac Posen event in Toronto, held at the end of April 2014. Back in January I spied a beauty of a gown on Moda Operandi’s VINTAGE VANGUARD collection (www.modaoperandi.com).

Zac Posen and model Karen Elson for Moda Operandi’s Vintage Vanguard. Photo courtesy of VOGUE.

Karen Elson is a personal friend of Zac Posen and is passionately involved in an incredible charity called Dress for Success, (www.dressforsuccess.org) along with L.A. filmmaker and vintage clothing aficionado, Liz Goldwyn.The proceeds from the sale of the pieces went to the charity. The VINTAGE VANGUARD auction was curated by Moda Operandi’s Lauren Santo Domingo. Karen Elson and Liz Goldwyn donated several pieces from their personal vintage collections and had various top tier designers “re-imagine” them.
Liz Goldwyn, in a “re-imagined” Gregory Parkinson tie dye V-neck column dress,  Karen Elson in my Zac Posen sequinned and beaded ball dress and Zac Posen for Vintage Vanguard.
So here we started out with a beaded vintage top that Karen wore back in the day when she and Zac would boogie it up in NYC. Zac added miles of crinoline and tulle to transform it into a dark Cinderella kind of gown. I knew I had to have it.
At the NYC Zac Posen atelier.
After the big buy, off I flew to Zac’s atelier to get a fitting (admittedly I’m not the same measurements as Karen Elson…lol). It was tricky to do because of the vintage beading which we had to work around as we shortened the bodice and hem.
Strategically placed safety pins indicate areas that needed shortening.

Sonia Traika and Simon de Beaupre are two of the genius talents at the atelier and they made sure the fit was exact. I sensed I was in the hands of perfectionists…guess that’s why they are Zac peeps.

Sonia Traika (second from left) and Simon de Beaupre (far right).
Meanwhile back in Canada…I had to determine how I would style the dress. I knew Zac’s S/S2014 collection was heavily influenced by historical French stage and film actress, Sarah Bernhardt. She really hit her stride during the Belle Epoque period. One of her most infamous roles was as the lead in Theodora, Empress of the Byzantium, wherein she dons this massive headpiece. I asked the super talented Gail Osaduke at www.hatsmade.com to fashion a headpiece that incorporated that Belle Epoque aesthetic, along with the “Modern American Glamour” theme of the evening.
Sarah Bernhardt was a French stage and early film actress in the late 1800s.

Now for the big reveal…






I was so pleased with the vibe. It was exactly what I was after. The dress, complete with requisite Posen corseting (deep breath), was divine.


In a serendipitous case of irony, Zac invited Lauren Santo Domingo to jet to Toronto to act as the evening’s Honorary Chair. The same Lauren Santo Domingo who curated the Vintage Vanguard collection on her Moda Operandi e-store.
Lauren Santo Domingo, me, and Zac Posen.

Lauren was so tickled to see me in the gown. We took a bundle of pictures to send to Karen and Liz. American Vogue’s Hamish Bowles was also at the event and crossed the room to let me know he knew the origins of the gown, and loved my styling choices. Swoon. That was indeed a “this just got real” life moment.



I like to refer to this dress as a “PAY IT FORWARD” garment. I bought the dress because I wanted an original Zac Posen piece to wear at his Toronto event. Zac only came to Toronto because I brought the event organizer with me to meet him in May 2013, when I visited his atelier as part of a Charity Buzz auction item. The atelier visit was representative of Zac’s personal donation to benefit the rebuild after hurricane Sandy. Schematic diagram illustrating same coming soon…


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