What question is guaranteed to strike terror in the heart of even the strongest man? How about: “Does this dress make my butt look big?” That’s a question that will never have to be asked again in households where the brainchildren of Jean Haas, creator of the Clone Yourself Dress Form Double, reside.
Meet Fifi Van Buren, a retired exotic dancer; Mimi, who doesn’t regret a single hot fudge sundae; Marie Antoinette, who is a bit indignant about the pincushion that replaced her head; Denise, who proudly struts her curves; and a lady who wishes to remain Anonymous. They display uncommon patience as they welcome us with open arms, yards of twill tape marking each important landmark, so that we may drape them in tissue paper and fabric, test for freedom of movement in a sleeve, nip in places where curves cry out to be emphasized and glide over areas that are best left ambiguous. And they allow us to see EXACTLY how our butts look in a particular dress.
They emerged on the first day of our hands-on dress form workshop as Jean swathed each of us in precisely-placed strips of duct tape utilizing a method she has refined over the years to capture every hill and valley that make each of us unique.
Each form is perched on a turntable that allows us to have our fitting assistants turn while we remain in one place. Those of us who have tried other duct tape methods could see immediately that Jean Haas, the originator of this process, produces a far more accurate representation of our bodies. Where others may get the protrusions right, they fail to get the hollows right, so contoured garments made from the imitation forms lack the level of definition that can be achieved when you have a Jean Haas Dress Form Double.
On the second day of the workshop, we learned where to put design lines, which is what elevates these dress forms to expert fitting assistant status. These are our anchors, our reference points, our stitching boundaries that will allow us to drape patterns and see precisely how they need to be adjusted to fit and flatter us. From there, the possibilities are endless–a no-gap neckline that doesn’t play peek-a-boo when we don’t want it to; a neckline that frames a favorite necklace; sleeves that fall just so. Tina insists we send apologies in advance to those who sell muslin: sales figures could dip dramatically.
Some of us approached the workshop with a combination of excitement about developing this essential fitting tool and dread about facing our body flaws. But working on these dress forms seems to have a therapeutic effect. We are able to step outside our bodies and see them as others do, objectively and from all angles. And we are seeing them from a designer’s point of view. Each of these dress forms is the model we are designing for. We can treat her gently rather than critically and find the lines that are most flattering to her. It truly is a transformational experience.
For more pictures and Tina’s priceless commentary, visit Tina’s photo journal.