Inside the Making of a Gown (N. Davuluri)

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GUEST BLOG: Gown designer Gaspar Cruz

I met Nina from her local director, Johnny Triquet, over the phone as he had served as one of the judges on the panel at the local she had won and then was assigned to her as her “mentor/local director”.

Johnny said he instantly knew that he was going to contact me after having watched Miss America 2013 when Mallory Hagen from New York had won. I worked with Lexie Madden from Wyoming and had designed the black gown she had competed in and placed 3rd runner up to Mallory.

So when Nina and I connected...Nina, Johnny, and myself did a lot of texting back and forth. She described and sent me text messages of dresses she liked and possibly wanted.

Taylor Swift Side by Side

Taylor Swift's white gown at the People's Choice Awards 2013

Her ideas were great but she said she wanted to make a statement and have an impact. The dresses she was showing me were very pretty and very red carpet but not much for impact.

Her favorite gown was a white crepe dress worn by Taylor Swift. I used the gown as inspiration with some modifications. I built a corset into the dress to maximize her small waist and give her great structure for her bust.

I wanted to be sure to add the cap sleeve so that it would define her shoulders and not make her look too wide with excess fabric.

Nina sketch

Gaspar Cruz's original sketch of Nina's gown

I also wanted to show off her back, so we cut a keyhole in the back so when she turned around it would have some detail.

Then of course I added the two foot train to make her look taller as she walked off.

I sent over one of my measurement charts and she said to me she had lost over 60lbs at that point and wasn’t sure if she was going to lose any more weight.

I said let’s make the dress to the size you are now and we can work on the small details after the fact.  We discussed chiffon, crepe, and a few other fabrics and decided to go with 2 layers of chiffon and charmeuse as lining.

I sent her photos of a few dresses, one of them was for a client that I had designed for competing in my pageant.

Nina Top 5 Miss America 2014

Nina Davuluri with the Top 5 at the Miss America 2014 pageant

She liked the idea but was a little nervous about the color and the plunging neckline because she is Hindu and wanted to be sure she didn’t embarrass her parents or insult her religion.

I told her that I would add some sheer netting to it so that it would be classy and tasteful at the same time. After a week or so, I emailed her and her director and see if they had decided on what she was going to do. We went back and forth on color and finalized yellow.

Up until she received the dress I think she was still a little nervous. As you know she eventually won Miss New York 2013 and was headed to Miss America.

Initially I wanted to add rhinestones to the gown should she have won Miss New York but she was firm on keeping it completely simple.

I had this gut feeling that she was going to win Miss America regardless of what gown she had on. I think the fact that she had this very “red carpet” sort of gown separated her from the other contestants more typical pageant type gowns.

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This article was written by Guest Blogger

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