Inside the Making of a Gown (M. McCord)

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GUEST BLOG: Mary Margaret McCord with Steven Fields - Gown Designer

Most pageant girls know that the hardest part about preparing for your next pageant is picking out the evening gown. This was my biggest struggle when planning for Miss Alabama USA 2013. After placing first runner up in 2012, I felt like I had a lot of expectations to come back even bigger and better. I had worked with Steven Fields, the owner of J.S. Fields and Company, in 2012 to pick out a dress.

Mary Margaret McCord at the Miss Alabama USA 2012 pageant

Mary Margaret McCord at the Miss Alabama USA 2012 pageant

The dress I chose to wear for the Miss Alabama USA 2012 pageant was a custom Jovani white jersey gown. It had originally been made for my good friend Keeley Patterson, Miss Mississippi USA 2011, to wear at Miss USA. Instead, she chose a different gown which gave me the opportunity to wear it to Miss Alabama USA 2012. It was a dream dress and I thought it was not possible to find one that beat it.

I had contemplated wearing the white gown again for 2012, but I decided I needed something new. I had experienced disappointment while wearing that gown and I wanted to have a clean state going into Miss AL USA 2013.

MMM Gown6

Black gown with scalloped neckline

While modeling for Atlanta market in August, Steven came to purchase gowns for his shop. After going to several stores, we went in the Claire’s Collection show room. We spotted a black gown that was very intriguing. I liked the shape and the look of the gown, but I was not in love. Then we discovered a white strapless dress with a scalloped neckline.

I fell in love with the top of the dress but I loved the silhouette of the black dress more. We discussed combining the two dresses with Daniel at Claire’s Collection and he said it would be possible. We made several changes to the black dress and added the neckline of the white dress. The whole process was nerve racking because I was saying yes to a dress that I had never seen before and would not see until 2 weeks before Miss AL USA. Although I am a very visual person, I decided to go out on a whim and purchase the dress.

"In 2011, I had the distinct honor of designing Mary Margaret McCord's dress that aided in her first runner-up placement at Miss Alabama USA. While preparing for 2012's competition, I knew I wanted a gown that would showcase Mary Margaret's amazing body. Mary Margaret, Daniel from Claire's Collection, and I sat down and sketched what we imagined to be her dream gown."
-Steven Fields

The four months before I saw my dress were the longest of my life. I was training and preparing for Miss AL USA while being a full time graduate student and fighting to find hours to study Statistics. Even though I had a million things to think about, I was very anxious and worried about my dress. I would have dreams that the dress came in and was completely different than what we had ordered! The worse dream was that it came in and was a cotton maxi dress! In my dream I even asked my alterations lady if she could put beads on it! I probably had about 5 or 6 nightmares about my dress, not to mention the countless other nightmares I had about showing up to Miss AL USA unprepared.

Close up beadwork bustline

Close up beadwork - neckline

On November 19, which was 18 days before Miss AL USA, Keeley and I made the four hour drive to Nashville to see my dress. I wasted no time and tried on the dress the moment I got to Steven’s shop.

The second I saw the dress on, I fell in love.

It was everything I wanted in a dress. It was edgy, form fitted, not overly beaded, and classic.

My worries about beading my white dress quickly went away. It was my dream dress.

I felt like a Bond girl when I had on the dress, so I secretly named it the James Bond dress.

To push the time limit even more, I had to get it hemmed so I did not receive the dress until December 2, which was 5 days before Miss AL USA!

"We went from 2011's classic, yet sexy, white gown to a show-stopping black gown. I feel the styling along with the choice of black hit all the categories we needed to perfect. The black liquid bead gown with a portrait neckline and chiffon detailing hugged Mary-Margaret's curves in all the right places, while the high slit was a perfect balance of class and sex appeal, allowing her rocking legs to be front and center in the spotlight."
-Steven Fields

Close up beadwork bustline

Close up beadwork - skirt

The moment I stepped onto the Miss AL USA stage in my gown, I felt at ease. I had zero doubts about my gown and knew this was my time to shine.

Although the swimsuit competition is usually my favorite part, this year my dress made the evening gown competition my favorite. After three years of competing in Miss AL USA, my perseverance finally paid off and I was able to win the title in my dream dress.

Most pageant people will tell you that a dress cannot win the pageant for you and I completely agree; however, I think a dress can lose it for you. You have to feel like you are already the titleholder in the dress in order for you to truly show the judges that you deserve the crown.

My dress made me feel 100% confident in my ability to win Miss AL USA and luckily the judges recognized that and made the decision to crown me as Miss Alabama USA 2013, and for that I am ever grateful.

-Mary Margaret McCord - Miss Alabama USA 2013

Miss USA 2013

Photo courtesy of the Miss Universe Organization

 

This article was written by Guest Blogger

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