Art Alumna’s Vintage Dress Design to Debut on Red Carpet
Date published: Sept. 20, 2019
Dallas-area native and Door Number 9 designer Elisa Choffel Low, BA ’03, will have her latest dress design showcased on
the red carpet at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 22. The silver open-back
vintage-style gown includes a striking chainmail jewelry inset created in collaboration
with Toronto jewelry designer Kyra Matsui.
Kassie Rutherford Iwinski commissioned the custom gown, requesting an open-backed
silver dress in Hollywood Golden Age style that could incorporate and showcase a custom
piece from one of her favorite jewelry designers, Kyra Matsui of Iron Lace Design.
“I love the challenge of engineering good design to meet the needs of the wearer,”
said Low. “I also love historical fashion. I started with an authentic 1930s pattern
as my base design. The original pattern had a vertical row of snaps going up the side
of the dress, because zippers hadn’t been invented yet.”
Low went through several iterations of the dress in order to achieve Iwinski’s vision,
from vintage pattern to four different versions of the bodice, heavily reinforcing
the bodice without sacrificing its elegant drape.
Low collaborated extensively with Toronto artist Kyra Matsui, who designed and handcrafted
the dress’s striking handmade chainmail backpiece created of a 5-millimeter silver-plated
half-round chain and 4-millimeter clear Swarovski crystals.
“I custom-matched the metal rings to the clasps and the fabric’s weight and color,”
said Matsui, “and selected a small gauge that would knit into a sparkling piece that
would fluidly shift and flow to match the dress’s fabrication.”
The result: a custom dress that’s red-carpet ready, from designers who prove that
custom couture can be found outside high-priced design firms on the coasts.
Iwinski will wear the dress as she accompanies her husband, Greg Iwinski, a staff
writer for the Colbert Show, to the 71st Emmy Awards, which will air live from the
Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sept. 22 from 7-10 p.m. CST.