Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Peacock Girl, Me.

BoombandsEm, Simply Be Blog Collaboration Peacock Dress Photo Shoot
On the streets of London. Peacock Fabulous!


When Simply Be contacted me to collaborate on a dress with them - I was beyond excited. I never thought I'd have an opportunity like this, and certainly - ten years ago - when all I cared about were t-shirts, black hair colouring and jeans - this reality would've unlikely been possible. But here it is.

Over the last six months Simply Be has worked with Laura, Lauren and myself to create three dresses WE wanted to create. It's been an interesting process and certainly - a learning curve. Now, I read someone online asking if we had parameters set on what we were "allowed" to do as regards our dress... The answer is no. We've been allowed to make what we want in collaboration with the Simply Be designers, buyers and garment technologists etc.

Our dresses come out in May-June.


The first meeting with Simply Be happened in Manchester in October. This was a meeting to flesh out plans, discuss timelines and talk about what WE bloggers liked.

I couldn't make it... And so... PANIC.

I wrote to Simply Be explaining my situation and the fact I couldn't make it North to see them. It was weird - after having such a tasty carrot dangled in front of me, I was so scared I'd be booted from the project, but, in actuality - they were BEYOND great... I was asked to send pictures of my favourite clothes, any sketches I might have, any ideas I wanted implemented - indeed - anything that indicated MY style and what kind of garment I would like to create.

I went to town.

With little indication of what EXACTLY was required - I compiled a huge  document detailing the fabrics, cuts, prints and styles that I love. I sent photos and I drew sketches. LOTS and LOTS of sketches.

My style represented. I sent a few pages like this!

Without knowing exactly what Simply Be had in mind - I drew a BUNCH of things. AND, from the moment I started drawing, let me tell you my dear friends, I kept my heart, but also my READERS in mind. No kidding Ladies because I'm not just talking about my blogging friends - but I mean you non-blogging Ladies who comment on Facebook & Twitter. You lovely readers who send me emails and photos of yourselves to show me YOUR style - which (very often) differs from mine. From the get-go I knew I wanted to make something that I loved and found beautiful - but I also REALLY wanted to make something that other women would love and find beautiful. I wanted to create something feminine and pretty for you.

The sketches that I sent through to Simply Be - I sent as ideas. There were TWO designs I flagged as my favourites - but other concepts I sent through were meant to represent ME and also MY READER here on the blog...

Boombands Em, Simply Be, Asymmetrical Top Design
I loved the idea of a geometric print on this!

And then... There were the TWO ideas I loved the most. These were sketches that represent what I personally LOVE the most in MY fashion choices. I like relatively simple clothes with structure and strong fit. I love drape and right now - I'm really into pleat and ruching work.

Boombands Em, Simply Be, Dress Design
I STILL love the waistband on this!

Boombands Em, Simply Be, Dress Design
(Hmm. I saw a UK retailer come online and download this image and some others yesterday.
I see you there and took ISP snaps.)

For me, because I couldn't be at the initial meeting - I wanted to represent myself well. These sketches were all sent as concepts only; really just simple ideas for design... And you can see - I wasn't seeking to be crazily innovative - I wanted something beautiful and feminine that was also ACCESSIBLE. To be honest - for me, that point - ACCESSIBILITY became a huge factor in how I moved forward with my dress.


After the meeting we announced our collaboration plans on Facebook and Twitter. TWO things you Ladies immediately said to me played a huge part in my going forward...

1. Please have sleeves.

2. Please think about length for us taller girls.

These two requests made me think. A LOT. Let's face it - some of you have very different body shapes to mine and those two requests made me think about wanting to do something fitted - but also - REALLY wearable for plus size girls who don't share my heavy hourglass shape. RUCHING started to become a focal point for me in my dress. Simply Be, with my input, sent me a number of possible designs...

Oh my gosh - SUCH a back and forth - but an amazing process. They sent designs, I sent sketches... On and On! We narrowed it down to TWO designs I liked that we could make up a prototype from:

Boombands Em, Simply Be Dress Collaboration
Narrowing down designs. Hard work but a lot of fun!

I also thought about the back of my dress. There was a great dress I tried from Anna Scholz's AW12-13 Collection that had amazing pleat tailoring in the front (see my post here)... I wanted to take that idea and apply something similar to the BACK of my dress so that there was a little extra material for any rounder bottoms or bulgy backs. Seriously... as a Summer Dress, I want the girls who buy my garment not to worry about whether it "works" in the back. I just want it to work. And so (hopefully)...

Boombands Em Back Dress View

This actually now exists in the back of my dress. I LOVE this.


The initial prototype of my dress came through and was very much a work in progress. This prototype gave myself and Simply Be a great place to start from, as regards working through to the final dress.

Boombands Em, Simply Be Dress Collaboration, Dress Template
Working Prototype.

You can see - there were certain issues immediately. The neckline needed lowering, the ruching in the bust needed to come down, the hem needed to be tuliped and the waist needed to come up. For me though there was one main point... The stomach was wrong.

(Now Ladies even with my heavy hourglass shape I'm certainly a two-tier tummy type of girl. I have myself an under-boob tyre layer followed by a jelly-belly soft gut... A belly button divides these two layers).

Looking at the prototype, I knew I'd probably want to wear shape-wear with a stomach design like this - but it wasn't right for what I wanted as regards increased accessibility... The ruching was moved in from the hip and the triangle slowly became much smaller - indeed - without meaning to - the front skirt design has become a little bit reminiscent of the 2010 Beth Ditto Rose Dress (seen here). This was organic, rather than deliberate though! :)

After sending Simply Be my print preferences and wishes, we found the print for my dress. This print actually made my heart burst. "Peacock" is one of my family names, so the fact that this print came through is pretty amazing for me. 

This print makes my soul smile.

Boombands Em, Simply Be Dress Collaboration, Peacock Print

Yesterday, Lauren, Laura and I did a photo shoot for our dresses.

BoombandsEm, Simply Be Blog Collaboration, Lauren Ding, Pocket Rocket Fashion
Lauren and I. Babes.

BoombandsEm, Simply Be Blog Collaboration, Laura Ferry, What Laura Loves
Laura and I. Babes.

And here it is...

BoombandsEm, Simply Be Blog Collaboration Peacock Dress Photo Shoot
Backlit Peacock Girl.

Before final production starts, I've asked that the hem gets tuliped just a little more and that a seam be added to the neckline to stop it from rolling a wee bit - but to be honest, I'm pretty damn happy! In fact - I really love it and feel totally overwhelmed by it. I've kept the length JUST below the knee for some of the taller girls and the sleeves are short without being capped - HOPEFULLY some of you will buy it and try it and love it.

For me, I reckon I want TWO copies of my dress. One, I'll keep exactly as it is; wearing it lovely and long with summery bare legs and an evening Blazer for cooler nights! The other I'll hem above the knee to wear with a bright pink belt and black tights. Also? I think some cool boots and leather jacket would work well. Ya know?

BoombandsEm, Simply Be Blog Collaboration Peacock Dress Photo Shoot

In any case Ladies - this has been quite a ride. I know some of you have been anticipating what we might make and I sincerely hope that you like what I've come up with. Throughout this process, Simply Be has been amazing and I feel grateful to have gone through this with Laura and Lauren... I've also missed George - who was initially involved but had to pull out due to a clash of commitments. The three dresses us girls have come up with are all wonderful and quite different. It's kinda cool, actually. Between us, Lauren, Laura and I represent different ages, different styles and lots of different plus size women. Just wow.

You can hopefully see that with this dress, I haven't JUST made something for myself but have tried to come up with something I can love - but also - hopefully, a dress that you will love. It's been really important to me through the whole process that this dress has reach for loads of you and I HOPE to see LOTS of different women wearing it!

BoombandsEm, Simply Be Blog Collaboration Peacock Dress Photo Shoot
Peacocky Details.

I have to say a massive Thank You to Simply Be and all their different teams for helping me do this - but also letting me do this. Also, I want to say an especially big Thank You to Hannah and Natalie - who've been beyond delightful to work with. And patient! So patient! This has been such a positive experience and I am so happy. Thank you.

FINALLY - I have my fingers crossed that some of you send me pictures of yourselves wearing the dress when it comes out in May/June. I also can't wait to get my copies of the dress to style for some days and nights out. So amazing!

What a scary, wonderful, surreal process! 


(The dress I'm wearing is a SAMPLE size 22 which is one size bigger than I wear... As this is a sample size and there was no way to get a size 20, I've been pinned a little in the back to get the correct fit.
Also. Yesterday - during the shoot I actually BROKE my little toe. I stubbed it. Frankly though? Even with my broken pinky I STILL felt rocking fabulous in my dress. And was totally foxy. That's hardcore fashion, baby!). 

Since writing this post I have seen an UK retailer come online and download specific images, including my design images. I'm hoping that it won't INSPIRE them to copy anything. At least I got screengrabs tracking their movement and ISP. Oh yeah. Tech babe!


  1. Hi Em, I love your dress and it was interesting to learn about "the way the baby was born". I think it's just amazing, I don't know what else to say. Looking forward to May, when it will be online, I just hope it will be on the European site as well.


    1. Hi Nancy - I am pretty sure this will be available for Europe, I certainly hope so! This post took me ages to write, so I'm glad you appreciated it so much! Thank you. x.

  2. Hi Em,

    I want to say this is a perfect dress for YOU and me!!!!! I am totally in love with it and cannot wait to order it. I am delighted that you have also aimed "your" dress at the taller woman as well. I am sick of dresses up to my ass :(

    Well done hun, so proud of you.

    Caroline xxx

    1. Yay! Thank you Caroline! This has been SUCH a long process and I love that you'll try it when it goes on sale. The dress sits below my knee and I am 5'5 so HOPEFULLY this dress will be more accesible for some taller girls. Crazy. Thank you. x.

  3. Hi Em,
    The dress is fabulous, well done!

  4. I have the same two-tier belly - in fact, it's partly why I started following your blog! We're a very similar size and shape and I've never seen/met anyone else similar to me, so it's very handy when you do review posts ;-)

    I'm very much looking forward to this dress, because I can pretty much guarantee it'll look as hot on me as it does on you!

    1. Yay for the two-tier! I used to have belly issues, but now I kind of love it's roundy shape.

      Two things - Thank you for the compliment to me and... THANK YOU for the compliment about the dress. x.

    2. Oh, I have belly issues a-plenty... I'd love a teeny waist and flatter stomach, it would make clothes so much easier. But I know how to dress it and shapewear is my friend when I'm feeling less confident. I'm really hoping it's not necessary with this dress, though!

    3. It will totally depend on your feel in the dress, but it skims more than hugs! One of the reasons we decided to move the ruching over the tummy more was to help give women with roundy bellies - or who don't wear shape-wear more access to it. Fingers crossed it works the way you want! x.

  5. Em,

    The dress is fantastic! I LOVE the colours and print, and you rock it with your biker jacket! The write up you have done is wonderful and very indepth, it's great to hear about the whole process and your drawings are very professional!
    The way you have considered what other women with different body shapes to yours is so lovely and sweet.

    1. A lot of people were asking about the process - so I wanted it to be really evident how open Simply Be were, but also how much input we were allowed. Really, none of us are fashion designers, so it's amazing that this has all happened. i feel like a very lucky girl!
      I'm so glad you like the dress too. xxx.

  6. Hi Em - loved the post, so much work involved! I really liked your muse -the Beth Ditto dress - and tulip is good on me too. I'm your height or a shade shorter, so I would probs hem it too. I'm concerned about tum (aren't we all) as my stomach swells with IBS so I have to be careful both on comfort and cling but I'll def order one anyway, both to try it and because I think you're fab for doing this! Well done x

    1. I love that you're open to hemming it. I thought SO much about the length and all I thought was I wanted as many people as possible to buy it. I like the length to below my knee - but know I'll want a shorter version too! Just ABOVE the knee! I hope the tummy area works for you. As I mentioned - I thought about it a lot and there is good drape there, so fingers crossed. x.

  7. Love love love! Any idea how much the dress will cost?

    1. Yay thank you! As to the price - I don't know. The price will be set by Simply Be, but I can ask. x.

  8. That dress is chuffing amazing! I love peacock print. Well done! x x

    1. Thank you so much hon! Peacock Print is my favourite - I feel so lucky. x.

  9. I LOVE this - thanks for sharing the process and the final result. :D

    I am in <3 with peacock anything so the print is amazing! I would love to get this but as I am in the US it can be tough to get my hands on some of the awesome stuff available to the plus size community in the UK (I'm jealous of all your figure flattering options!).


    1. I'm pretty sure this will be available in the States via the local Simply Be site there - I will certainly post when it goes on sale - so fingers crossed. x.

  10. Oh that print! I bought the Anna Scholz Peacock dress from your blog sale so I feel its only right to get this beauty when it's released! Good work Em, love it! xx

    1. Thank you so much hon! I am so excited for release and hope it lives up to expectations. Peacock is my favourite! YAY!! Em. x.

  11. Such an interesting post - thank you. Fascinating to see how the design process works.

    We both have very similar body shapes and seeing as that print is beautiful and you look gorgeous in that dress - I know I'll be buying it as soon as it comes out.

    1. This is an amazing message, thank you. It actually felt like a REALLY long post to pop on the blog - but I thought it was really important to give people insight and let them see how much work we all put in! It was great but also stressful!

      I can't wait to see you in the dress - send me a picture, okay? x.

  12. It's gorgeous!! I'd totally love to try it. It seems in line with te Leona+ dresses I've been wearing lately, skimming, shapely and patterned. Can you ask if it will be available to AU customers (or Irish in a pinch I can post to my in laws).

  13. OMG that print is *stunning*. I would buy the dress just for the print because I'm a peacock feather fiend; but I can tell from seeing it on you that it will suit me as if it's made for me (I have a similar body shape to you, two-tier belly and all).

    I can't wait until May to get my hands on this dress - I hope they are making lots of them!

    Congratulations Em, it's an utterly beautiful design.

  14. That, m'dear, is a seriously awesome dress. Well done! I hope I can get my hands on one when it is released!


Hi there! Thank you for leaving your post. Due to some blatantly obvious spammers I have had to turned comment moderation back on with word captcha for older posts. Hopefully the spammers will bugger off and I can take some of the settings back to normal quickly! Thank you and smooches! Em. x