Fashion

Molly Goddard’s Knockout Dress Took 13 Meters of Tulle and 36 Hours to Create

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British designer Molly Goddard has been busy picking paint colors and putting the finishing touches to her fall 2021 collection—her East London studio has undergone a colorful refit to act as the backdrop for her London Fashion Week film. The paint hue in question? “A slightly dull yellow,” she says, laughing.

“I’m so excited for it,” Goddard says of the film, in which her Lina dress, a tonal tulle masterpiece, is set to star. Add in the fact that the designer is also 
eight-and-a-half months pregnant with her first child, and the excitement is reaching a fever pitch. In the days leading up to the collection’s premiere, Vogue asked Goddard to keep a diary of what goes into making her showstopper dress in a bid to answer the questions that have been playing in our mind ever since Rihanna first stepped out in a zinging Goddard dress in May 2016: How does she make her dresses? And how much time does each one take to create?

pThe Lina dress inthemaking at Goddards studio.p

The Lina dress in-the-making at Goddard’s studio.

Photo: Arthur Williams / Courtesy of Molly Goddard

pMembers of Goddards team try the dress on a mannequin form.p

Members of Goddard’s team try the dress on a mannequin form.

Photo: Arthur Williams / Courtesy of Molly Goddard

Two days ago, a crisp screenshot of a model wearing the finished dress landed in my inbox, alongside a neat list of secret details revealing its inner workings. Today we are catching up via an old-school phone call to unearth the final ingredients of any monumental Goddard gown: spontaneity and instant joy.

“I enjoy designing big dresses because the process is quite instantaneous compared to the more labored process of designing tailoring or shirting, where you’ll need to make a toile and have five separate fittings,” explains Goddard. “We often won’t make a toile for these dresses; we’ll just go for it.”

Each frilled Lina dress takes approximately one-and-a-half days to make, using around 13 meters of the designer’s favorite stiff Italian tulle. Goddard’s rule of thumb when it comes to scaling up? “Typically, the bigger the dress—especially in tulle—the more I enjoy the process. I really love the side of designing that’s about creating volume.”

Beneath the scene-stealing drama of her subversive fairy-tale gowns you’ll find intricate, hidden details, including a hand-smocked waistband. Her trick to creating that magical (and much imitated) Molly Goddard bounce? The hem of the smocking meets a large bubble skirt that is slightly shorter at the front and covered in frills, “giving a squishy and irregular silhouette.”

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