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The Gratitude of Dragons: Garments of the Graces

© Copyright Alessandra Kelley

These garments are part of "Second Sights: The Art of Presence", an ongoing project.

"Second Sights" takes inspiration from the classical Greek gods to spur thought and expand our culture's ideas of human beauty and clothing.

These garments offer thoughts about the movement of the human form.

The project blends panel painting, clothing design and construction, and textile painting. Each god addressed in the "Second Sights" project has a painting and an outfit, sometimes more than one.

The Charites, or Graces, are three gods of grace, joy, beauty, adornment, and festivity.

The garments, a long sleeveless dress and a bodice with kimono sleeves, are meant for dancing.

They are painted with motifs of phoenixes and dragons, feathers, fire, butterflies and chrysanthemums.

A woman wearing the Graces top

The clothing is made from a mix of archaic and modern fabrics, a rough red linen, modern knit cotton jersey, and delicate silk charmeuse.

The art incorporates themes of time, recurrence, infinity, sharing and generosity.

Front view of a bodice

The bodice is handpainted hand- and machine-sewn cotton jersey, silk charmeuse, and linen. There is light boning and quilted linen stiffening under the central linen panels, front and back. The sleeves are attached only at the top, like classic kimono sleeves. The general cut of the bodice is inspired by eighteenth century European women's fashions.

Back view of a bodice
The back of the skirt on the dress, showing panels and painting of chrysantehemum-firework forms and butterflies and a looped illusionistic belt The dress worn, seen from behind, blurred with motion

The dress (to be worn alone or underneath the top) is black cotton jersey handsewn with silk thread and painted with metallic butterfly and chrysanthemum motifs.

The front of the skirt on the dress, showing panels and painting of chrysantehemum-firework forms and butterflies dissolving down from an illusionistic belt A tempera painting of three dancing women wearing variations of the dress and top, as a snakelike dragon biting its own tail spins in the air above them

Click here to see the accompanying painting.

Click here for the project gallery.