Manila-based student Ciara Gan faced a problem that many of us have had before. She couldn’t find the perfect dress to wear to a special occasion—in this case, her graduation. But instead of settling on something she didn’t love, Gan decided to take matters into her own hands—literally—and teamed up with her mom to create a custom DIY dress. The result is a gorgeous emerald green garment that features voluminous pleats and a sweetheart neckline. The most striking element of the dress, however, is Gan’s surface decoration of hand-painted flowers that trail down the skirt’s large folds.
Every part of the dress was inspired by things that make Gan happy, including the act of painting itself. “As nerdy as it may sound,” she tells My Modern Met, “I chose emerald green because I’m an avid Potterhead and a proud Slytherin.” The orange florals came to mind after re-reading the book Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Gan felt that the blooms spoke the best to who she is. “I strayed away from basic roses and dainty florals because although they’re pretty, they don’t reflect my personality. I love the vibrancy of loud colors like orange and green.”
Creating a gown is no small feat, even if you know how to sew. Gan, however, had little knowledge of garment construction prior to making this dress. “I learned it all from Youtube tutorials!” To start, Gan and her mom bought 13 yards of fabric, crinoline, boning, and Swarovski crystals. They sewed one skirt panel at a time, and when the dress was complete, Gan spent five days painting the flowers. From start to finish, the project took about a month, during which time she kept it a secret from her fellow classmates. She made the ultimate grand entrance at her graduation event and wowed them all—including people from around the world, thanks to social media and the power of the internet.
Gan clearly has a knack for fashion design, so it’d make sense if she were to follow that path. But, she has other plans. “I recently graduated from the STEM strand, so I plan to pursue a degree in a science related course,” she shares. Gan doesn’t see them as separate, though. “I am in love with both the arts and sciences and I want to incorporate two different things with each other. I want to bring art into science, or vice versa.”