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Art Gowns: Queen Isabella

By Resa McConaghy:

A dear friend of mine, Isabella, is fighting cancer, and I wanted to do something special for her to show my support. As always, my answer was . . .

“I’ll make an Art Gown and dedicate it to her!”

Do you remember when the red ribbon was adopted for AIDS? It was the first “awareness” ribbon that I remember.

Now we have many ribbons for many causes. Yet, no illness has claimed more ribbons than cancer. Unfortunately, there are many diseases demanding research dollars. I fear we need to revisit supporting cancer research; you need only look beside you to see that cancer is still raging away after all these years.


As Art Gowns must reuse, up-cycle, or repurpose, I challenged Isabella to donate something she’d been hanging on to for years but didn’t use anymore.

She challenged me back and gave me a very textured dress. The color made me think of a purple peacock. Does such a creature exist?

I also thought of the pink ribbon for breast cancer and the purple for pancreatic cancer.

The dress was dismantled and draped on a different angle. The textured bodice demanded a skirt to surpass it.

I found a pic online, but it looked manipulated. Nonetheless, I was up for something peacock-like.

Bouffant mock feathers were assembled.

Random strips were cut from a vintage curtain lace, bought for $0.75/yd at a liquidation sale. Acrylic paint with fabric medium was daubed on irregularly, creating a visual texture.

Partial random ruching created volume and a feeling of ruffled feathers. I kept piling on the ruffles.

She was a joy to shoot! I shot her in various lights:

On a cloudy day

At night under a red lightbulb


Mini Isabella found a cancer ribbon chart.

She also found a few valuable links:

TA for now! See you next Art Gown!


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:

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