Updated: Apr 21
By Resa McConaghy:
What is an Art Gown?
I made the first Art Gown, "Strawberry Kisses," 7 years ago. My mom had passed away, and I was feeling like the world was no longer beautiful. So, I decided to make some beauty. I found a long piece of fine red jacquard silk in my fabric stash and went to work. As time passed, I continued the tradition of making beauty, which evolved into making treasure from trash.
The Art Gowns are made from repurposed items (i.e., taking old clothes apart), recycled fabrics (i.e., curtains), and anything up-cycled that I can get to work (I embellished one Art Gown with 300 wine corks). If I buy fabric, it's from bargain bins on the street, from the back of the store, or from yard or liquidation sales. I stick to around $2.00–$4.00 per yard. I also buy acrylic paint and fabric medium, as I actually paint some of them.
They are 100% sewn together by hand. No machines are involved.
As of today, there are 23 Art Gowns (Art Gown 24 is currently under construction). They all have names and personalities. Art Gowns are not garments per se, but can be fit to an individual and used for promotional photography or events.
“Athena Graffiti Goddess”
Inspired by the Greek goddess, Athena, she is adorned in street art style symbols from the
Tarot and Zodiac.
All of the symbols relate one way or another to the goddess.
Across the width of her tail is the name “Athena” in graffiti writing style. At the tip of her tail is the symbol for woman/Venus, which is symbolized on “The Empress” Tarot card, as depicted in the Rider-Waite Deck. On the bow, at the top of the tail, there is Pisces on the left and Scorpio on the right. Each is presented with stars representing their position in the Zodiac; 12 for Pisces and 8 for Scorpio.
Athena Graffiti Goddess is made from $0.75/yd (120 inches wide!) synthetic curtain lining bought at a liquidation sale. The cyan blue bodice is made from a scrap of spandex I had in my box of small fabric pieces.
I won’t throw any of the small bits away! Fabrics do not go into the recycler—they go into the garbage, hence landfill!
Athena Graffiti Goddess is painted with acrylic paints mixed with a fabric medium. About five years ago, I entered a contest to design a shawl for Stevie Nicks. In an attempt to be unique, I painted on lace. (No, I didn’t win.) However, there was lots of paint leftover. That began the painting of some of the Art Gowns. Since then, I have bought some new paint, but mostly I have been gifted leftover paints, which I enjoy using up. Don’t throw it away! Give it to me, and I’ll use it on an Art Gown!
Across Athena’s top half is her chest armor. Her skirt is painted with symbols:
The Star (surrounded by 7 stars, again as depicted in the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck)
Of the 12 symbols I have painted, you know where 3 are. I have already pointed them out. Can you find the other 9? Bear in mind, the gown is not flat. As the fabric undulates, so may the symbols.
Thank you for viewing “ATHENA GRAFFITI GODDESS.” If you want to know how each symbol I’ve painted on Athena connects, I could write about that in the future, but I’m more about her being just another pretty Art Gown.
However, I’d love, love to know what Brandon Alter and Angel Lopez from the Flapper Press "Spirit Team" might have to say?
An established costume designer in film, television and digital media, Resa McConaghy has worked on productions for Showtime, ABC, Disney, CBS, CBC, Hallmark, and more.
Her mission: to enable the articulation of character through wardrobe.
Take a look at Resa's other Art Gowns: