Inside the Making of a Gown (J. Wilkins)

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GUEST BLOG: Gown designer, Randall Smith of RKS Couture with Jazz Wilkins

The “Jazz” was a dress that was aligned with the stars.  When I first began to train Jazz for Miss Georgia USA, I sent her on a mission to find pageant dresses that she connected with.  Usually most newcomers to pageants have a different view of the way they would like to be styled or their individual pageant style.  History has proven that usually the two various styles don’t always align.


Miss Georgia USA 2011's long sleeve black gown.

After carefully reviewing various tear sheets and visiting local boutiques, Jazz and I came to realize that she was too tall for many rack dresses and once we added a six inch heel, there was no way she could wear a ready-to-wear garment.  Jazz fell in love with a long sleeve black dress that was worn by the current (at the time) Miss Georgia USA 2011 - Kaylin Reque,  when she was crowned at the state pageant.  Jazz wanted sleek and simple with very little beading.  She wanted her style to be very simple and did not want to resemble “A Pageant Girl”.


Randall Smith's sketch of Jazz Wilkin's gown.

At that time, I had to go to work and began to be creative to satisfy my first time pageant client who didn't want to resemble a pageant girl.

However, I needed to evoke pageantry in the style to make sure that we didn’t eliminate the elements of pageants.

After all, we are competing in a pageant!

Henceforth, the state gown was created.  It was a long sleeve plunging “V” simple matte jersey form fitting dress with a high right leg split.

The dress made Jazz feel like a Million Dollars!!

She loved her gown and couldn’t wait to show it off.  That was her spark at the state level.

"When I first saw the gown (before Miss Georgia USA 2012), I was nervous as to whether I could pull it off or not! It’s very daring with such a plunging neckline but I got so many compliments on it after the pageant. The long sleeved white gown I wore to Miss USA was actually a modified version of the gown I wore at my state pageant. That gown just worked so well for me the first time that I didn’t want to switch it up too much and go with something completely different, so we added an open back and embellished the V cut in the front."
zz Wilkins

Jazz Back

Back view of Jazz's Miss Georgia USA 2012 gown. Open back with top panel, no embellishment.

Once Jazz was crowned Miss Georgia USA, I asked her what she wanted to wear to USA and she replied “My State Gown”.  I responded and said absolutely not.  Jazz still being a relative newcomer to pageants needed to go out and explore other designers and styles that might enhance her fashion sense and style.


Front view of Jazz's Miss Georgia USA 2012 gown. Low cut, V shaped neckline, no embellishment.

After working with various designers and boutiques, Jazz was adamant about wearing long sleeves and having a low back to Miss USA.  She loved the idea of looking sleek and couture.

This is where the magic began.  Two weeks before Miss USA, I began to construct the Magically Jasmyn gown.  She wanted sleeves and a low back and I wanted it to be sexy, sleek and regal.

Jazz was the perfect model to design for.  She could wear a sack and look amazing.  I went to the fabric store and ordered the finest White Matte Jersey with the perfect sheen, weight and texture to secure the flow of the gown.

From the first fitting, Jazz was estatic, delighted and confused because it was so close to Miss USA and her dream gown was being crafted.  Now you must know that since we were so close to Miss USA, Jazz already had a gown to wear at Nationals.   Once the gown was initially fitted, we made some minor changes from the sketch to ramp up the sexiness and accentuate the low back.

Jazz Gown constructing

Constructing Jazz's gown for Miss USA 2012 with lower back.  Top panel on back removed

I removed the top panel on the back of the gown that went across the back.  This panel is typically used to secure the garment on the body.  I had to structurally create support that would continue to support but give us the illusion we desired.  I love to be creative with my fits.  I truly believe it’s the fit that makes the fashion.  I pride myself on having tricks of the trade that allows me to fit a woman’s body to perfection.

Jazz Gown final

Jazz's gown for Miss USA 2012 after stone embellishments.

When the “Jazz” gown was completed, it was taken to the “Stone Guy” to hand stone the gown.  The Stone Guy custom stoned the plunging V neckline and the cuffs in crystal and AB stones.  He then created hand stoned earrings and stoned shoes to complete the look.

The night before Jazz’s flight to Vegas, I designed and completed Jazz’s Dream RKS COUTURE gown. She wanted to make everyone happy pertaining to the wardrobe choices already in place for Miss USA but knew in her heart that “The Jazz Gown” was the one. Jazz arrived in style at Miss USA and wore the RKS COUTURE gown with style, grace and class the way that the dress was designed for her to wear.

"I just feel like when you find something that works for you stick with it! I felt way more confident wearing it the 2nd time around at Miss USA 2012 than I did at my state pageant…even after the fact that we made it even MORE daring. I just felt like this was kind of my lucky dress since it helped me win my first pageant ever. Granted there are plenty of ‘white long sleeved’ gowns out there by so many designers, but I just felt like I couldn’t go wrong with this one. I even named her ‘old reliable’ LOL!"
-Jazz Wilkins

Jazz Wilkins (Georgia) at Miss USA 2012
(Photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization, Randall Smith, Jazz Wilkins, and Harold's Studios)





This article was written by Guest Blogger