For one prominent Charlotte bridal gown designer, saying yes to a charity fashion show last month put her on a path to speed-creating one of the highest-profile gowns that will be donned in North Carolina this year.
Kristin Cooper, wife of soon-to-be-N.C. governor Roy Cooper, has picked C.J. Bostrom to design her gown for the Jan. 7 inaugural ball.
Bostrom is well-known in Charlotte’s gala scene – she owns J. Major’s Bridal Boutique, as well as Erin Grey Couture, a clothing line that offers bridal separates that allow a bride to ditch a heavy train from the ceremony for a dancing-friendly shorter skirt at the reception.
Bostrom says she’s still in awe of how the Cooper connection happened.
She’s launching a new line of non-bridal gowns, and accepted an invitation to create several looks for the Nov. 12 “Fashion Breathes Life” charity fashion show at the Ritz Carlton to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
In attendance that night was Kendra Leonard, who owns a Raleigh boutique called Art of Style and is a friend of Kristin Cooper’s.
Leonard, having seen Bostrom’s work at the fashion show and determining that her style would be appealing to Cooper, connected the two.
Bostrom says she drove to Cooper’s Raleigh home last week with sketches and swatches.
“At the time, everything was hush-hush because the recount wasn’t over,” Bostrom said. “She’s lovely. She’s very accommodating and down to earth.”
During the 1 1/2 hour meeting, the pair decided on a floor-length gown in a peacock blue stretch taffeta. (It looks blue in some light, but has a shimmer of purple in another light, Bostrom says.)
The sleeves are three-quarter length and the skirt is full. The neckline will be the big surprise, Bostrom says.
“We’re going very classic, very Jackie O,” Bostrom says. “The rest of her family will be in corresponding hues of blue. I think she’s just going to be very classic, with a slight twist to make it more modern.”
Bostrom’s normal lead time for a gown is three months, so three weeks is a major rush. (Although it’s also inevitable – a nearly month-long election recount meant many preparations for the inauguration are being done on short notice.)
But Bostrom says she’s not panicked. She planned to finish cutting out the dress shape this week and hand it over to a seamstress to begin sewing. (She says she does much of the sewing for gowns herself - this one will be a combined effort.) She declined to say what Cooper is paying for the dress, but said her formal gowns range from $2,000 to $5,000, depending on materials and complexity.
There will be one more fitting in Raleigh before Bostrom brings it back to Charlotte for final tweaks. Then she’ll take it to Raleigh on inauguration weekend. And she’ll be a guest at the ceremony.
“I’m just elated. I can’t believe it,” Bostrom said Tuesday.
After the inauguration, the gown is expected to go on display at the N.C. Museum of History, which has a display of the state’s first ladies’ inaugural gowns.
Four years ago, Gov. Pat McCrory’s wife, Ann, wore a sleeveless St. John Couture gown with a leopard print and a band of black beading around the neckline that was later donated to the N.C. Museum of History.
The black-tie ball, organized by the Junior League of Raleigh, takes place Jan. 7 at N.C. State University. (Tickets are $160 and it’s open to the public.)
Another prominent Charlotte designer, Luis Machicao, is also in creation mode for what will be a heavily eyeballed inaugural ballgown, this one for Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
Machicao, who hails from Peru but has deep roots in Charlotte’s fashion scene, says he’s created several gowns for the mayor since she was elected in November 2015. Her inaugural gown will be made from a deep navy lace that Machicao ordered from New York. The fitted lace gown will be accentuated by fabric that forms a bow on one side, travels across the back of her shoulders, and forms a train down the back.
“I told her, ‘You need to look regal,’ ” Machicao said. “That blue is going to look fantastic for that occasion.”