The dress that you see on the front cover of this issue is one made of recycled Vamp Magazine paper, intricately designed, and then created by folding and weaving paper by Designer James Dimech in collaboration with his sister, Make-up Artist Jennifer Dimech
Dress design: James Dimech Model: Biljana from Supernova Make-up: Jennifer Dimech Hair: Nicole Gera Photography: Matthew B Spiteri
James Dimech is not a fashion designer as such, but rather an interior designer, spending his days creating spaces for his clients’ specific requirements.
“The creation of this dress was a breath of fresh air for me in terms of creativity. While there is an element of expresiveness in interior design, it’s nearly impossible to have total creative licence.”
It all began with the brother and sister team wanting to work on a project together next year. Their idea was to create a set of paper dresses combined with certain make-up and photography.
In the meantime, the opportunity arose to make a dress for the front cover of Vamp. It was James’ idea to create this first dress using only recycled Vamp paper. This would be the teaser, and then eventually the designer would like to try it with architectural paper.
“This was in no way designed to be replaced with fabric in the future. This is an art piece – a way of expression for me. It’s for those who appreciate the craftsmanship of it.”
There was a lot of preparation for this dress. Very often, a fashion designer will create a dress using a model, but with this particular one, James had to draft a dress with darts on every aspect and create it first. Paper is by no means as easy or malleable to work with as fabric, and as a result, he had to work with the material by trial and error to get it right.
There were no machines involved; James hand-cut all the thin paper strips, and in some cases glued one to the other to get length. He then wove one under the other. Since the accessories were made out of the same material, their folds and creases proved even more challenging.
“When I began doing research, it was one thing – but then when I embarked on the reality of it, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. The material is so different and difficult to use. There are certain rules when designing with fabric that just couldn’t apply with paper. I couldn’t just pick up a pattern that I found in a book; I had to find it all out by actually doing it. The folding was particularly tricky. To get the back and neck right, I had to use the same kind of folds that are used in origami. I used the ancient Chinese technique as a source of inspiration to create a simple way of folding the paper. It turned out to be effective in particular areas. The whole thing was just a series of completely different procedures. It took a lot of care and patience.”
Since James has a hectic day-long work schedule, he had to work on the dress on and off – and worked mostly nights. He would finish work at 11pm, and then work on the dress throughout the night.
Working in this manner, it took him approximately a month from start to finish.
Once the dress was created, and all the other elements fell into place, James and Jennifer were pleased with the end result.
“Jennifer knew what kind of makeup I wanted, so my mind was at rest on this. We experimented with and tweaked our initial vision along the way, but it was in joint agreement. At the very end, when it came close to shoot time, I was afraid of the end result because by then, there were different elements that were beyond my control. I was extremely finicky with choosing the model, but she turned out to be really great.
“By working on this, it triggered a lot of ideas that I’ll hopefully have the time to work on in the future. I learned something really interesting from the whole project. I am a self-confessed workaholic and often work very late into the night finishing off things. In these cases, I usually wake up feeling tired, but when I worked late into the night on this project, I felt much better when I woke up. It was like therapy for me to break from the usual routine. It was just me and my creativity, and I felt free. I was able to create exactly what I imagined; it was like working on a piece of art.
“I also remembered that we should never give up on dreams. It’s never too late. A huge credit to my sis for giving me the push.”