Way before the actual event our Miss Happ team had started work on every aspect of our clothing range as well as a very special dress for our local Pinup gal, Gabbi Katz aka the Blue Haired Betty.
The Blue Haired Betty was set to be on stage at Viva as one of 12 finalists in what is known in the pinup world as the most prestigious Pinup pagent - The Viva Las Vegas Pin Up Contest, and Miss Happ was there with her every step of the way!
Now as you can all imagine, the final gown is always something that is kept very much a secret right up until the last minute, and this was no different. But the Miss Happ team managed to keep it under wraps while work continued on it right until the last few days before we left.
When Gabbi first discussed her idea with Mandy the one thing they chatted about was something that she had seen on a vintage gown while gathering her inspiration and doing research. The idea was to have a shoulder wrap out of self fabric (as it turned out we decided to go with the classic tulle) but have it attached to the bodice in a way that she could wear it in multiple ways.
For the rest of the dress we all agreed without a doubt that we were going to go with a traditional fifties silhouette of a fitted bodice and major poofy skirts with multiple layers of tulle in different colours.
At this stage we were in a little debate over what colour to go for and settled on going with The Blue Haired Betty's signature blue with a contrast of gold. We loved the beach/seaside feel of the colours that the fabrics gave as well as the sheer look due to the nature of the Tulle. For the bodice and the skirt lining we went with a beautiful Duchess Satin in a pale gold.
Fabric shopping wasn't as easy as we had hoped, and it took the most part of a day to decide on the final fabric in the right colours - as it turned out we landed up going back to the first shop we had looked at right in the beginning of the day!!
The trim that we intended to use for the waistband was also decided on, and we went with a more vintage white gold embroidered trim that was lovely and wide. Up until this point we weren't 100% sure exactly what we were going to do around the waist and even spoke about looking for a diamante belt to emphasize Gabbi's tiny waist, but in the end we were happy with the choice of the gold trim.
We had all of Gabby's measurements from when she was Mandy's bridesmade, so that really helped, so the first time she came in for her fitting we already had the bodice and underkskirt already sewn up and just pinned on Tulle to the bodice and skirt to give her an idea of the overall look. We used an existing Miss Happ pattern for the underskirt and tweeked the bodice a little - for the Tulle Mandy draped directly onto the Mannequin and cut from there.
At this stage we also decided on what order to put the Tulle - we had three colours in total; Turquoise, Teal and a pale Gold. You wouldn't believe how different the actual dress colour looked when you changed the order of the colours!
In the beginning stage we all quite liked the look of the Gold bodice and the idea of a full Tulle skirt - almost as if they were two separate pieces in one ensemble, but decided to stick to our original design, and carried on with the bodice draping in the teal tulle. For the back panel we just placed the tulle over our gold satin panel with no tucks so that all the focus was on the front.
As a last minute addition we decided to add a thin spaghetti strap to the left shoulder as a small precaution - any gal that has worn a strapless dress will know how much of your time is spent pulling it up and the last thing we wanted was The Blue Haired Betty to be on stage tugging at her dress! This we hid under the tulle shawl that was attached to the same place on the bodice, so you didn't really see it anyway.
All in all the skirt of the dress had close on 18m of tulle so was lovely and full. Add a beautiful underksirt in cream underneath and we had enough Va-va-voom to get that lovey fifties shape!
At this stage we were also having to think about what sort of Jewelery would work best with the dress. Mandy had the perfect vintage necklace and bracelet that had belonged to her Gran and were both pieces that she had had tucked away in her draw for years and that she herself had never actually worn. The colours were so perfect and they also had that more white gold colour with little jewels in a green which fitted perfectly with the more sea theme. Gabbi decided to wear a lovely pair of nude beaded gloves that had belonged to her Granny for the final look, so we landed up doing away with the bracelet.
Gabbi already had the perfect shoes - a great pair of Steve Madden gold glitter peep toe t-Bar heels - in the pale gold that matched to perfection...
Once the dress was completed we were missing just one last thing - where the shawl attached to the bodice wasn't looking a 100% and yet another vintage piece of jewelery came to the rescue - this time a pretty antique pearl bow brooch that belonged to Mandy's other Granny! And what do you know? It was the exact width and was perfect! We both loved the fact that there was a little bit of our past reflected in this dress!
Then lastly it was time to pack up the dress in it's bright blue garment bag and get it safely on the plane with us. I have to admit, it wasn't without a little bit of pain and sweating and only once nearly loosing it on our way home when it quietly slipped off Gabbi's luggage trolley and we nearly didn't notice...only once!
On the day of the Pinup Contest Gabbi looked amazing, and we were all so proud of her. During the morning everybody was so super busy working at the Miss Happ booth, including The Blue Haired Betty, but as the afternoon approached the nerves set in and of the girls went to get ready.
As we all waited in the crowd (all standing alone as we had had to take turns at the Miss Happ booth) the announcement came that Gabbi had won the title of 2nd runner up in literally the world most prestigious pinup contest! At first Mandy didn't believe what she was hearing, but once the shock had worn off it rapidly turned to excitement and pure happiness for The Blue Haired Betty! As a true South African Rockabilly girl this Betty showed America what our small culture really is all about and we couldn't be prouder at being along with her on her journey! Well done!