In the spring of 2011, Katie Bertoli from Haworth approached MPA with a proposition: create a Haworth / Environments at Work / Margulies Perruzzi Architects team to create an entry for the 2011 International Interior Design Association of New England Fashion Show. MPA Architects Tim Bailey and Kim Smith, along with Interior Designer Jane Sullivan and I soon realized this was a fun opportunity we could absolutely not turn down!
LET’S MEET THE TEAM
Tim Bailey, AIA, LEED AP BD+C | MPA
Jane Sullivan, LEED AP | MPA
Dianne Dunnell-Bois, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C | MPA | Model
Katie Bertolli, LEED AP, IIDA | Haworth
Christina Bertolli | Model
Francine Buck | Haworth
Tiffany Hubanks | Environments at Work | Model
Kathi Bailey | Seamstress
IIDA CONCEPT: ICONOGRAPHY. OUR CONCEPT: THE CHINESE DRAGON.
By July we had locked down our concept: The Chinese Dragon. It didn’t take long to notice similarities between Haworth’s product, Kvadrat “Cloud” (an acoustic wall and ceiling treatment) and the physical characteristics of a dragon. We knew right then and there that we were on to something good.
We recently completed a “Cloud” installation at a client’s office, shown in the photo above. The scale-like shapes have some of the same abstract characteristics of the scales of a dragon. That being said, the history of the Chinese Dragon was an easy connection to the fashion show’s theme, Iconography.
Tim turned to his sketch pad and emerged with amazing sketches of three outfits we eventually constructed: representations of the dragon’s head, body and tail. Although each dress would be stylized individually, the three would come together as one, to create an overall composition.
MAKING THE OUTFITS
We had our concept, sketches and chosen materials. We enlisted the help of Tim’s mom in New York, a fantastic seamstress. We meticulously measured each model, and sent the final measurements to Tim’s mother. The dress “shells” were sown in New York and shipped to us in Boston. Once in our hands, we applied Haworth’s “Cloud” tiles to the shells.
We secured a few mannequins and a little real estate in the back of MPA’s office.
With just over a month left to the big event, the Haworth/MPA/Environments at Work team worked feverishly, stapling and hot gluing like there was no tomorrow. And somehow in the mix of it all, we found ourselves practicing walking in four inch stiletto shoes!
THE DAY OF THE FASHION SHOW
October 13, 2011. It started like any other work day, but by lunch time, we had to transform … into runway models! To kick off the transformation, we headed to Tribe where we got our hair and makeup done.
We arrived at the Westin Hotel and made our way to our suite where the dresses awaited us. We passed by our competition and their entries getting ready, there were some AMAZING outfits!
Practicing “our walk” down the hotel corridors with guests passing by, we channeled our inner model. And even more so, in our suite, we tried to master the model “I don’t give a *%#$” stare by watching other models on the TV.
Being so busy, the time flew and we were starving! We DID NOT DARE eat anything in fear of getting it on the dresses. We made it this far, no need to ruin my modeling career with a little stain!
Swallowing my hunger, I put my game face on and was ready to hit the music/runway. As we made our way behind the stage, passing our competitors, everyone seemed to be in awe. Not only was this the first time that we were revealing our masterpieces, but Haworth’s cloud material was making a huge entrance as well. Having been a newer market material and item, the cloud really came as an element of surprise, thrilling those who witnessed it, further fueling our inner model excitement.
HITTING THE RUNWAY
Backstage, projected on a large screen, all the models eagerly watched as over 300 people took their seats and waited for the event to begin.
The music was blaring, the crowd was getting louder with excitement. And that’s when the nerves kicked in, especially in Katie’s sister in-law. The adrenaline started flowing but I just told myself to focus on our routine and perfecting my model walk … in my four inch heels.
We made our way to the steps leading to the catwalk and were signaled to quickly stand behind the shadow screen and strike our pose, awaiting the signal to make our entrance. Then, one by one, we were queued to make our way around the screen and make our debut.
As I made my way around the screen I was blinded by the lights and of course, my shoe got caught in the floor seam. Thankfully, I did not trip and tried my best to keep my “model face” on as I walked down the runway. However, keeping the “model face” was harder than I could have imagined considering as I strutted my stuff, all I could hear were my friends and colleagues screaming, “Work it, Dianne!” … How could I not laugh at that!?
We made our way to the end of the runway and struck our final pose for the judges. And in that moment, even at the end of the runway, all I could hear was hooting and hollering.
After the show, , attendees approached us to get a closer look at the detailing and only then did they reassure us that everything we imagined, created, and modeled, was 100% worth it.
When the crowds died down and the music faded, I slipped out of “model mode” and back to reality because then all I could think of at that point was getting my shoes off (man, they were digging into me!), going the bathroom (which I needed to do even before we took the stage!) and getting something to eat – IN THAT EXACT ORDER!
Back in my day to day clothes, and flat shoes, it was time for the after party where we ate, drank and danced the night away! … A super ending to my day as a super model.
To watch an amazing video of the entire process, click here!