It began with a feathery cloud of a prom dress.
I was buried in tulle for a month before I perfected every stitch. At 16, my venture into fashion design was amateur at best. I spent the better part of a decade drawing slim figures in myriad dresses and grew too curious not to explore the craft further. I envisioned classically detailed evening gowns, cocktail dresses and women’s tuxedos parading down a runway of their own accord. I wanted nothing more than to re-create the flamboyant elegance of eras lost to the deep recesses of history.
I imagined creating the designs akin to a swift flick of a wand, and thereafter, a silver-spun dress would appear—fit for modern-day Cinderellas. In other words, I was far too confident in the thought of replicating the expertise of my favorite designers like Reem Acra and Marchesa. When I discovered that sewing was more than carefully-stenciled patterns and a steady hand feeding fabric through the machine, I grew discouraged.
Even so, I determined to create a collection of clothing that I could only wear in my most extravagant daydreams. It was impractical and financially foolish, but I knew that the making of even one dress would be an admirable effort in the pursuit of a cherished dream. I knew that even if I never had an occasion to wear it, I would value every piece as a physical creation that was once only an image in my mind.
I received my sewing machine as a gift at age 16. I didn’t know where to begin. I traveled around town for the best fabric stores, rummaged through my grandmother’s sewing kit and finally gathered a treasure trove of items to serve as tools. Among the stack: a collection of dress patterns, various sewing needles, a thimble and spools of thread. First, I made a small coin purse. With the little knowledge I had of sewing, it was the only thing I could conceivably make.
Over the years, I attended sewing classes. I learned how to hand-stitch, embroider and feed fabric steadily through an errant machine. At college, I continued the hobby as a pastime, only wearing my designs on the rarest of occasions. I look back at those garments now and am able to reminisce on what it felt like to tell others, “Yes, I made this. I designed it myself.”
It all began with my prom dress, which now hangs proudly at the front of my closet so I can remind myself of my feathery beginnings. Alongside it are two other carefully crafted pieces—folds of green satin and faux emeralds, pleats of ivory lace and pearl accents make up the trio.
They all bear the same gold-stitched, scroll-lettered tag with the shimmered outline of a feather.
It reads, “Plume by Cameron Alexis.”
My foray into the creative world is a humble start, and in the startling light of my true career path—one apart from fashion design—bittersweet. But as a friend of mine once told me, “I wouldn’t put it past you to throw a ball for the sole purpose of wearing one of your dresses.”
I digress. Some fairy tales never go out of style.