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Empress At Forbidden City - Cixi, Power Behind the Throne

Australian Wearable Art 2019 entry, Eumundi, Queensland :-

Winner: Best Haute Couture

Winner: Best Headpiece

Runner up: Advant Garde


Model: Joan De Mesa Prasser


Materials: In this piece, the main material for the dress is Woolworths and Coles $0.15 cents shopping bags. I fused 3 pieces of the plastic bag to create the required thickness (for strength). Over 50 bags were used to create this look. I have used a variety of spray paints to achieve the colour of the garment. I created 3 phoenixes using the same material as the dress details. Using plastic cups, bubble wrap, millinery wire and the fused plastic bags to create 2 full dragons for the dress and a half body dragon for the headpiece. I used a pair of shoes and pine wood to create the Empress’s shoes, which I have cut, sanded and shaped the base of the shoes to achieve the final look. I also hand painted the shoes with acrylic paint and used beads, sequins, rhinestones etc to decorate the shoes. For the Empress’s headpiece, I used Chinese fan and millinery wire as the foundation of the piece. I made a phoenix out of plastic spoons. I used some tassels, fused plastic, fabric bias, self-made plastic spoons flowers and many beads, sequins and rhinestone to finish the piece. I also created 4 nail guards using millinery wire, sinamay, materials I found in op-shop as well as beads and rhinestone to complete. Beading has been a big part of the entire outfit. I have hand sewn over 1600 beads and sequins, and glue on over 2000 beads, sequins and rhinestones individually by hand. As this is a dress for an Empress, beads represent luxury and extravagance that the Empress deserves. The night before the finale, I have created a pair of ear pieces to lift the look to the next level. The completed look was created within a 5 weeks period and close to 250 hours to complete.

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