It is often said that when life gives you lemons, use them to make lemonade. One of the businesses that were hit so hard by the COVID-19 last year were that of designers, tailors and others in the garment manufacturing industry.
A few were lucky to be given accreditation by the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) to produce nose masks while others had to stay home during the lockdown and find something else to do.
It was during this challenging period that Sarathedressmaker, a fashion designer with over 16 years of experience, decided to use her lockdown moments to learn a new thing. Though a professional with workers, she decided to enrol at a fashion school called the Dreams College at Dansoman, a suburb of Accra.
For her, staying tuned with emerging fashion trends related to colours, fabrics and key shapes were very important to her as a fashion designer. At Dreams College, Sarathedressmaker spent seven months learning how to make couture gowns and dresses.
Couture gowns and clothes are made in bespoke fashion – entirely by hand. Each garment is made for a single, dedicated client. Sometimes this involves hundreds of hours of work for a single garment. With her professional background and new knowledge, she recently released her iconic wedding gown as part of her 2021 bridal journey collection which is making waves in fashion circles and social media.
‘The Bridal Journey’ depicts the bride’s choice of dresses for each stage of the wedding process. It shows the traditional dress, the bridal robe, the mother’s dress, and the ball gown. The designer calls the ball gown, one-piece Corset Batavia Lettuce Ball Gown.
In an interview with The Mirror, the designer, known in real life as Sarah Quarcoopome Abbey said it took 35 days of hard work, 2000 yards of horsehair, 165 bridal organdie and 48 yards of bridal Satin to finish the elegant looking gown. Of the 48 yards of the bridal satin, 24 yards was used for the foundation while the other 24 yards was used as lining. It has a Y2K zip and an eyelet for lacing the back of the gown.
Touching on her inspiration, the designer told The Mirror that her motivation came from the beauty of Mother Nature. She got the idea from the leafy plant lettuce, the sea waves and the peacock. “When you look at the gown critically, it comes in the form of the Batavia lettuce. The Batavia lettuce is another type of lettuce but this one resembles the ordinary lettuce we all know but has more crinkled leaves and a wavy leaf margin.
“The Ivory ball gown has the nature of the lettuce and ball nature of the gown is similar to a peacock when it spreads its feathers. The Bridal Journey features the 2019 Miss Malaika winner, Phylis Vesta Boison, as the bride, and Akumaa Mama Zimbi (AMZ) as the mother of the bride as its models,” she explained.
Journey of the gown
Taking this reporter through the journey of the Lettuce Ball gown, Sarathedressmaker said she used an industrial cutter with the supervision of her tutor Clement to cut all the 2,000 yards of the horsehair fabric in a day.
“Basically, Horsehair braid is a crinoline netting, made from polyester (but used to be made from horsehair). It has many different usages, but common usage is to hem dresses and skirts.
It stabilises the hem and gives it structure and fullness,” she said.
“It also took me two weeks to cascade the sewing pattern. I did all the cutting myself and did the handwork alone for 35 days. When I say it some people don’t believe the gown was even made right here in my studio. I even had to skip church and other important functions just to finish it off perfectly,” she said.
The original gown, which is currently sitting at her showroom at Haatso, a suburb of Accra, was designed to fit a size 12 figure. “However, the top can be worked upon to even fit a Plus Size figure because the down part which looks like the skirt is very huge and can fit all sizes.”
Who is Sarathedressmaker?
According to the designer, she had always loved to sew, therefore, after completing Bishop ‘2’ Junior High School at Bubiashie, in Accra, she decided to enrol at the National Vocational Training (NVTI).
“Growing up my sister and I used to play with my mother’s hand sewing machine. I try to sketch while my sister tries to sew. There were times I ended up stitching my fingers as I attempted to sew using cement paper but I never gave up on my passion,” she said.
After my training at the NVTI, I continued to the Accra Polytechnic (now Accra Technical University) and pursued Advanced Fashion and
Designing. “Immediately after school, I moved into business designing for both the corporate and social worlds,” she smiled.
Apart from the bridal wears and clothes for women, she also designs shirts and kaftan for men for all occasions. She is married to Richard Abbey Junior with whom she has three children.
The creative designer is willing to sell the Lettuce Ball gown to any soon to be bride for about GH¢30,000. “We are not in ordinary times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, choosing the perfect wedding dress, understanding the styles and what looks good on you makes you walk down the aisle with confidence, after all, it is your big day and all eyes will be on you the bride,” she said.