Inside the Making of a Gown (A. Klinzing)

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GUEST BLOG: Gown designer, Kate Walz and Aly Klinzing

I’m Kate Walz, a 17 year old women’s wear designer from Omaha, Nebraska. I have been designing since I could hold a crayon, sewing since I was 8, and started selling my clothing in a boutique when I was 12 years old.

Original Kate Walz gown on the runway at New York Fashion Week.

Original Kate Walz gown on the runway at NY Fashion Week.

I have participated in over 30 fashion shows, including Omaha Fashion Week, Kansas City Fashion Week, and an offsite show of New York Fashion Week. I am currently the spokes designer of Fashion Camp NYC.

I had the pleasure to design Miss Kansas Teen USA 2013 - Aly Klinzing's gown for  Miss Teen USA 2013.

Aly’s gown was a slightly altered version of the finale gown of my Fall 2013 collection.

The original had a leather bodice and a less full skirt which was inspired by the history and architecture of New York in the 60′s.

I took inspiration from the architecture of the buildings and the fall fauna of Central Park.

Aly first saw the original gown when she walked for my show at New York Fashion Week.

"The first time I saw this gown was at New York Fashion Week last February.  The gown was Kate Walz’s finale piece of her Fall 2013 collection. It was a show stopper and I just fell in love with the gown the minute I saw it! I was thrilled to be able to spend time in New York on location doing a shoot for the collection after walking in fashion week for Kate, keeping my fingers crossed I would get to wear the gown for the shoot."
-Aly Klinzing, Miss Kansas Teen USA 2013


Original Kate Walz gown (with leather bodice and slimmer skirt) worn by Aly Klinzing during photo shoot in New York.

On our trip to New York, we were also able to have a few photo shoots around the city with photographer Greg Higgins. We tended to do them at strange hours (like 3am) because of lack of time during the day.

We were able to get some really cool pictures this way however, because we were able to capture New York almost empty, which was an interesting perspective and helped focus the eye on the clothing and Aly.

A few months after our trip Aly contacted me saying that she would be interested in wearing the gown to the Miss Teen USA 2013 pageant.

"Aly and I in the city, it was so great growing so close to her and becoming such great friends!"

"Aly and I in NYC, it was so great growing so close to her and becoming such great friends!"

Being that we are so close in age, (at the time she was 15 and I was 16) I think that she really connected to the gown because we have a similar taste in style.

I think the deciding factor that caused her to ultimately choose my gown was that we had both already achieved so much through this dress and created so many great memories in it.

I was so excited she chose my gown! Not only was it great publicity to have it seen by so many people that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to my work, but it was also great having her represent my brand. After having it approved by her pageant director I got right to work.

"Once I put on the gown during that time, it just stayed with me…I really, really loved it. A few months after the trip to NYC, it was close to have to finalize my gown choice for Miss Teen USA (13 weeks and counting), so I decided to show a picture of the dress to my directors to see what they thought. They loved it too and really wanted me to have the gown of my dreams, so I decided…this is the one!"
-Aly Klinzing, Miss Kansas Teen USA 2013

Aly’s first time trying on the dress after the Omaha Fashion Show.

Aly’s first time trying on the dress after the Omaha fashion show.

It’s a pretty simple gown to construct, just a bodice with a sweetheart neckline and a circle skirt with a layer of taffeta and a layer of organza over the top. I made Aly's gown from scratch and it probably took close to 8 hours to construct.

I changed the bodice from leather to dupioni, and made the skirt a bit fuller to make it more pageant appropriate.

The flower was the tricky part. I wanted it to have some dimension so I put tiny pleats in each petal and attached them all to a big circle of taffeta separate from the skirt.

I did this so it would still have some movement to it. I also added vertical top stitching to cover the bodice for extra detail. I finished it with a feathered pin in the center of the flower.

I actually ran out of fabric for the flower and didn't have time to order more. I made one with what I had, but it wasn't big enough so I had to take the flower off of the original dress and switch the two!

Since she has modeled for me multiple times and lives 3 hours away, I just made it to her size without having a fitting. When she came to Omaha to model in a show for me she tried it on, and it fit perfect the first time!

"I remember at my first fitting that it fit perfectly (literally like a glove) and I felt like I was at my personal best in the gown…confident, elegant, and beautiful. I remember how much I was looking forward to wearing it at Miss Teen USA! It was perfect for me.”
-Aly Klinzing, Miss Kansas Teen USA 2013

I first saw Aly's gown on stage when I was watching the preliminaries online. Seeing her float across the stage gave me such a rush of pride in both my work and in what Aly has achieved. It was so incredible to see Aly's gown standing by Sherri Hill gowns and other big name designers.

Aly is truly one of my best friends and favorite people, so seeing her in my gown really meant a lot. She was so radiant and happy on stage, and I may have been smiling just as hard she was!

It was truly an honor to have her wear it! Aly placed Top 15 at Miss Teen USA 2013 and I couldn’t have been more excited! She is the perfect representation of my brand, and I was proud to have her wear it.

Aly Klinzing. Photo by Miss Universe Organization.

(Photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization, Kate Walz, and Greg Higgins)

This article was written by Guest Blogger