Vinilla Burnham is a London based designer and also a free-lance contributor to several Creature Shop projects. In 2010, she was asked by Peter Brooke of Creature Shop to create a dress in collaboration with the Haus of Gaga, together they made "The Living Dress".
Collaboration with Haus of GagaEdit
Originally, Peter Brooke of Creature Shop hired Vin Burnham in January of 2010 to design a dress to be worn during the "Battling a Paparazzo" with The Fame Monster, a giant angler fish. The original concept of a "firefly dress" that moved was pitched on the phone to Burnham by Haus of Gaga's art director, Matt "Dada" Williams. Gaga's inspiration came from an animatronic dress after seeing one at the Spring/Summer 20007 ready-to-wear "One Hundred and Eleven" collection by Hussein Chalayan. She wanted a moving dress but only on a bigger scale than the one by Hussein Chalayan.Burnham started sketching mid-January, “My early sketches were fairly literal with antennae, but Lady Gaga wanted something more like couture fashion.”, says Burnham. Gaga explained that she wanted a fashion - couture piece and not a costume so it had to be glamorous. The design had no relating period, although the shape have a kind of Victorian feel to it with a corset, bustle and train. The main reason they used such elements was mainly to have a strong base on which to build the animatronics and find places to house the motors and cables.
When the 4th sketch was approved, Burnham and her team comprised of Sten Vollmuller and assistant Susan Smith started working on a prototype. They worked in London at Elstree Studios under the supervision of producers for Creature Shop, Martin Baker and Pete Coogan at Baker Coogan Productions Ltd. As Gaga was in Los Angeles, Burnham asked costume designer Dorothy Bylac Eriksen to fit a toile and take accurate measurements of Gaga for her. For the animatronic part, Burnham hired Adam Wright who also did the Hussein Chalayan dress. For the job, he hired Ed Dimbleby, Richard Blakey, Helly McGrother, Jonathan Saville, Adam Keenan, John Nolan and Oliver Jones.
The dress was made using a combination of materials including woven stainless steel, various forms of nylon fabric, sheet and rods, different weights of pleated plastic sheeting and coutil for the corset. The dress was finished two hours before its debut, taking six total weeks of creation. On the first three nights Gaga wore the dress, Adam Wright was backstage with Grace Defried and Josh Lee as technician and operator.
Prior to it's debut, Lady Gaga posted a statement about it on her Twitter.
2nite Haus of Gaga debuts "the living dress" inspired by Hussein Chalayan, as a fashion moment to be performed in "pop show" at Monsterball.
- In the beginning of a performance where the Living Dress is used, two pieces from Gaga's breasts cover her face, and, in the Monster Ball, the pieces move out of her face, and she begins to sing "So Happy I Could Die" in 2010 to 2011. The headdress opens and closes, and body of the dress opens and closes, revealing her legs, and the train of the dress moves up and down, "just like a dragonfly coming out of its shell." The headdress, dress movements and face fans are all connected to motors and remote-controlled from offstage. Wright used an elaborate system of motors and pulleys to pull the skirts up and back, and to enable the wings to spring up from behind Gaga’s back (which she operates herself with bungee chords).