"A dress that lights up", that was Amelia’s dream dress. This seemingly far-fetched request came when Amanda, Amelia’s elder sister, reached out. With doctors unable to fully understand Amelia’s health conditions*, her future is under a cloud of uncertainty. The only thing Amelia was sure of was what her dream dress would look like.
*Update: In 2021, Amelia was the first person in Singapore to be diagnosed with Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD). Read more about Amelia's story here. Updated cover image from her 16th birthday party in 2022.
This was one of the most unexpected requests we’ve had and we didn’t exactly know how to do it. But, the chance to make someone’s dream dress and learning that this was specially for Amelia’s 14th birthday gave us all the reasons we needed to say yes.
Designing with Amelia
Amelia hopped on as my ‘co-designer’ on this project. She had a keen eye and a clear vision of what her dream dress should be. Drawn to a vibrant palette, she chose a pink fabric and the rainbow tulle along with white lights to complement the colourful dress.
Another feature on Amelia’s wish list were tassels. Elisa doesn’t usually work with tassels but (thankfully) Caroline, who runs the jewellery brand THREEONETWOFIVE
, generously offered to sponsor her collection of tassels.
With THREEONETWOFIVE-sponsored tassels and a dress designed based on Amelia’s vision, it was time to figure out how to actually make the dress work.
From Dream to Reality
The Right Fit
Early on during the process, we quickly realised that the standard ways of measuring wouldn’t work for Amelia as her spine was in an ‘S’ shape. We couldn’t afford to make mistakes as there was no time for alteration with her birthday coming up in a month.
So, instead of the usual measurements, we draped fabric across her body and directly marked out the shape to ensure that we would create a dress that fits her just right.
Dress Up and Down
The dress was made to be modular. From the tassels to the lights, many parts are removable so that Amelia has the option to either go full fancy or dress down for casual days.
(above) The colourful tassels, which Amelia chose, are removable to customise the look whenever she likes.
The shoulder of the dress was designed with openings to make it easy for her parents to help dress and undress her. Since Amelia consumes through a feeding tube by her side, her parents have to lift up her shirt for her meals. So, we included an additional opening on the side with water-resistant fabric to help make Amelia’s meal times a more pleasant experience
(above) Snap buttons used as closures along the shoulder for easier dressing and undressing with the help of caregivers.
At 14, Amelia is in the midst of puberty. As a final touch, we integrated a training bra into the dress so it is truly an ‘all-in-one’ dream dress.
(above) Hook & Loop closures used to allow the dress to open fully along the side for an easier process during meal times and when dressing/undressing with the help of caregivers.
Delivering the Dream
After a month, the dress was finally ready. Hearing that Elisa was in the next room with the rest of her family, Amelia knew that her dress was here. Eager to join us, Amelia held her breath. It was her own creative way to get our attention. After a few seconds of Amelia holding her breath, her machine’s alarm was triggered and the next moment, we were all rushing into her room.
Amelia is often asleep for more than 20 hours due to her condition. This is why every moment awake is an important one. This time, it was made even more memorable as Amelia changed into her dream dress.
(above) Amelia wearing her dream dress that lights up during her 14th birthday party.
That day in the room, Amelia’s dress wasn’t the only thing that lit up. Her eyes too, conveyed all the love a girl could have for her dress.
To this brave girl, Amelia, and her amazing family, thank you for giving us this privilege to create a dream dress. Our hearts are full and this will be a precious moment in Will & Well's journey.
We’ve recently learned that a dream dress comes with potential side effects. Amelia’s mother informed us that Amelia wanted to wear her dress everyday and even sleep in it. In her charming stubbornness, she refused to let her mother remove the dress.