If you’re a book lover who spends any amount of time on social media, you’ve seen “the dress”. Aged book covers making up a gorgeous, corset bodice… flowing lace skirt trimmed with delicate pages… you know… THE DRESS!! In case you’ve managed to miss it’s gloriousness… here’s what I’m referring to:
So, now that we’re all “on the same page” (ha… yeah, that was bad, I know)… how gorgeous is THAT!?! The dressmaker, French designer Sylvie Facon, has been making gowns with this kind of unique flair since the mid 90s. Her creations range from runway-ready haute couture to simple, stylish “little black dresses”. You can even request a custom design (when her schedule allows) through her website.
Recently, I was able to ask Sylvie a few questions about the dress’s inspiration, design (often seen online called “the Bibliophile Dress”, but named “Tribute To Books” by its creator), and what her favorite book is! The questions were asked and answered on social media, in her native French. Huge thanks to Sylvie for taking the time to indulge a fan, and to my friend Maya for helping with the non-Google-Translate translation I’m including here.
Your dresses are absolute works of art. Where do you find the inspiration for your creations, and in particular for the amazing book dress?
I find inspiration from many different domains: nature, paintings, and in general anything that I find beautiful, associated with unusual materials, every day objects…like old books for example.
For the book dress, I have a friend who owns a bookstore with shelves that bend from the weight of old books which are no longer for sale. I told her that certain books that old and that beautiful fascinate me, and I could make a dress from them. She told me to use them, which I was eager to do! That’s how the dress was born.
[On Sylvie’s website, you can find incredible examples of dresses inspired by things like the garden, her hometown, and a violin. On her Instagram, you can find dress images based on, among other things, classic artwork (which she paints herself!) and even hay!]
Are you a big fan of reading? If so, what are some of your favorite books?
I will surprise you, I haven’t read in a long time, as I devote my time entirely to the creation of my dresses. Everything that is time consuming takes time away from creating.
I don’t have a favorite book. It’s the beauty of books that interest me really, not the contents. I only buy illustrative books that are close to my world.
How long did it take you to make the “Tribute To Books” dress, and what materials did you use?
I spent a lot of time creating this book dress, even if the concept is very simple: on the bust, the books are stored as you find them on a shelf. On the skirt, the books are in the other direction with the pages on display. We had to create a whole support structure on the bust and under the skirt, which is made of lace.
I spent about 300 hours on this dress; most of the time it takes me between 200 and 300 hours to make one dress.
Which is your favorite dress, of all you’ve made?
I don’t have a favorite dress. My favorite is the next one I’m going to make! And the one I dream of making, as I’m always out of time. This passion requires time.
[While Sylvie may not have a true favorite dress, she has revisited the book theme through the years. Here are a few of her other gowns that feature books and/or writing.]
While I finished the research for this, I found “Tribute To Books” on Sylvie’s Instagram feed, her third post back in 2017. I’m not sure if that’s when the dress was first made, but here’s the caption she posted with the picture (in French, with the Google Translate version of English this time):
“Once upon a time… magnificent books, that had been sleeping for many years at the Grand Librairie, found a place of honor on the chest of a beautiful princess. Over 250 hours of work, 40 meters wide at the bottom of this dress, displayed in the window of our beautiful Arrageoise bookstore.”
Fanny Wargniez, model
What a beautiful tale.