Elisa Choffel Low

Art Alumna’s Vintage Dress Design to Debut on Red Carpet

Date published: Sept. 20, 2019

Emmy AwardsDallas-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.

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