Katniss, Behind the Scenes

It all began with a forgotten red dress. We had ordered a sample dress last year, but when the time to came to shoot the collection it would be a part of we had lost the light and the photos were unusable.

So a lone, red dress lay forgotten in our closet for almost a year, until we began to put together our photo spread for Shine Magazine. I took the dress out, having forgotten how beautiful it was. We had just finished shooing our dress Ella, and those pictures were our new golden standard: they showed the dress beautifully and told a story at the same time.


By comparison, organizing and story boarding the shoot for Ella was easy. We were paying tribute to a Disney classic and recreating those iconic moments.

But what about this red dress? I found myself completely stumped. I stared at it long and hard and then finally decided just to hang it up in the house where I could walk by and see it daily. A few days later the thought crossed my mind, Didn’t the skirt remind me of Katniss Everdeen’s red dress from The Hunger Games? Immediately I jumped on YouTube and watched the clip with the red dress. Sure enough, they looked similar.

And so, the kernel of the idea for our Katniss shoot was born. I watched and rewatched that clip from the movie over and over and over some more. Once I felt I had a handle on the look of the dress (minus flames of course). I began my search for a model and a location. The location proved challenging. Should we go for the place Katniss is most herself, the woods; give a nod to the neo-classical architecture of the Capitol; or just try and show the character of Katniss as she’s thrown into a cruel game and becomes the strong heroine we adore?

We decided on the latter and once we had only one piece remained: the perfect model. We were trying to decide between a few models we’d worked with before when the perfect model dropped into our laps. She looked a little bit like Jennifer Lawrence, but more importantly, she was beautiful on the inside. At Virtuous Prom, we’re looking for girls who are beautiful inside and out. They’re not easy to come by, but they are well worth the wait.

And so preparation for the shoot commenced in earnest. We arranged a time and place for all of us to meet up and start the shoot. We analyzed Katniss’ hair and make up, her mannerism and got everything ready for the big day.

Then, less than two hours before the shoot, our photographer cancelled on us. At this moment I knew I had been in this field long enough, because my stress level didn’t shoot sky high. I simply picked up the phone and called Ted from TED Photography. Like the proverbial knight in shining armor, Ted came to our rescue. I’ll let Ted’s photos speak for themselves, but what his photos don’t show is what a kindhearted, patient, wonderful person and professional he is to work with. We simply can’t say enough nice things about Ted. Thank you Ted, for saving the day!

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll leave you with a few fun behind the scenes photos and then the finished product.

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To Customize or Not to Customize – The Pros and Cons of Having a Dress Bespoke

Back before the Industrial Revolution made it possible to manufacture things like clothing on a mass scale everything was bespoke, as in “it was bespoken” and then made exactly to the client’s wishes.

Very quickly people realized that buying something mass produced was a lot cheaper and the tradition of bespoke largely died out.

Well, we’re bringing bespoken back! Yah!

You ladies don’t know where fab is at! Yah!

(Sorry, Justin Timberlake… I just couldn’t resist!).

But in all seriousness, having a dress customized can be a truly wonderful and amazing experience!

Here’s why:

1) You get to control the design. Whether it’s showing us a picture or giving us a jump off point for inspiration, this dress is your design and NOBODY else’s. It’s exclusively yours! One of a kind couture, some might even say!

2) It will fit you without needing to be tailored extensively.

One of the reasons we got started at Virtuous Prom is a good friend had recently helped his niece “hem” her dress by using double sided sticky tape. The niece and her family had made a special journey, traveling hundreds of miles to the nearest big city to purchase a prom dress, only to be greatly disappointment. They didn’t find anything there that was modest enough or that began to fit properly. Crushed, they selected the least of all evils for her to wear to the prom, went home and “hemmed” it with an office supply.

Hearing about this debacle made me want to help out women everywhere. Very quickly I realized that tall girls have problems finding longer dresses, shorter girls need them hemmed (which can be quite costly) and 99% of girls don’t have their bust, waist and hips all sharing the same size. One of our models has a 10/12 size bust, a size 6 waist and size 8 hips. When a pre-made dress fits her bust, it hangs down the rest of her like a potato sack!

Retailers do their best, but they just can’t account for the unique and beautiful diversity we all possess. Having your dress custom made, however, makes all those issues a breeze.

3) We will help you with every step of your design!

Most of the gals I work with have a really clear idea of what they’d like, but not everybody does. One bride, Lila, that I worked with was so nervous and overwhelmed that we literally went through every aspect of the dress step by step: Do you like lace? Ivory or white? A scoop neck? No sleeves? Long sleeves? And so on. She very quickly gained confidence and her dress turned out AMAZING. When I saw the finished product in all its glory all I could say was, “Wow, wow, wow…. about twenty times in a row”

Next on “To Customize or Not to Customize,” we’ll talk more about Lila’s dress, the in depth side of collaboration, the electricity in the air when she first saw her wedding dress and of course pictures of her on her big day!

In the meantime, here’s a selection of some of the custom work we’ve done recently:

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We were commissioned to make a dress based on a a $1300 gown from Latter-day Bride in Salt Lake City. We ended up saving the bride over $1,000 and we matched the pattern, cut and even the lace to perfection!


Your Perfect Prom Dress – Part 4

Not quite sure what looks good on you? Still trying to figure out what compliments your figure and your coloring? Here’s your very own guide to finding your perfect prom dress.

The finishing touches…

We just had a few extra notes we wanted to add to finish off this series; tidbits of this and that.


Corsets (lace up backs) create BEAUTIFUL waistlines, even if you already have a rockin’ waist. They just create a gorgeous look. They require a friend to help with, but they are so lovely and have a wonderful fairy tale quality to them.


Don’t be afraid to play around with embellishments or go a little (or a lot!) outside of your comfort zone. There are so many different ways to accent a dress, the possibilities are nearly endless!

Some of our favorites are the asymmetrical skirt (see Le Fleur, Violet and Avril, below).

Le FleurVioletAvril

Another very popular option is a gathered skirt, such as Destry, Savannah and Amy, pictured below:


There are also a myriad of other skirt style options, including tulle over sequins (Paige), multi-layered, multi-colored skirts (Giovanna, one  of  our all time favorites!), or ruffled skirts like Joli. Sky’s the limit, ladies!


Bling. Could we ever say enough about bling? Probably not! You can add bling virtually anywhere, whether it’s all over (as with a sequin dress like Valerie), on the shoulders (like Twilight and Crystal), on the bodice (as with Jeanette), on the waist as with Avril and Joli (pictured above) or on the neckline (as with Amy, also pictured above).


Beading is also another lovely, very sophisticated option, whether it be on the bodice, skirt or both (our favorite examples are Starlight, Sidney and Ella)


Waist accenting can be a fun way to add in some sparkle and at the same time help create an hourglass figure, such as on Rose, Emmeline, Bella and Gabriella.

Rose EmmelineBellaGabriella

And the options don’t stop there… there’s always ruching at the waist (ruching is great at camouflaging “trouble” areas, as can be seen on Giovanna, pictured above), floral motifs (like Claire, pictured below), lace (like on Sidney, pictured above and Calista, pictured below), gathered bodices (like Hydrangea), ruffles (Camellia), pleating (as on Elisabeth, also pictured below), modest knee-high slits (Bailey)… the list could go on and on! But go on ladies, shake it up, try something new and you may just find a style that is exactly “you!”

ClaireCalista in Vivacious PinkHydrangeaCamelliaElisabethBailey