1/19/11

A visual feast of stunning beauty!

One weekend back in the Autumn, we had fellow blogger Pam OKC and her Brit hubby to stay and we all went sightseeing to Canadian, Texas.

We walk into this smalltown museum and art gallery and were gobsmacked to be met by the sight below!

(I am about to break my own 'not too many photo's rule', but I think you'll understand)

Please 'Double Click' pictures to see more stunning detail


The art gallery of the museum had an exhibition of Linda Leyendecker Gutierrez ballgowns, which quite literally took our breath away.


Linda says she has a God-given gift for designing the elaborate hand-beaded gowns for the annual Society of Martha Washington colonial ball held in Laredo Texas, and I have to agree with her!


The beadwork detail on these amazing dresses is just staggering and unbelievably gorgeous.


Each dress weighs approximately 80lbs, the girls who get to wear them are all teenagers and are the only women with the right tiny proportions to fit into one.


In 1939, on a suggestion of the local Monsignor in Laredo, a ladies’ Society of Martha Washington came into being, and the first 13 debutantes - known as “Marthas” - were presented at the Colonial Pageant and Ball.


The Ball has happened annually ever since and every year most of the local debutantes can trace their lineage back 5 or 6 generations.


The name of each “Martha” is called out as the double French doors on the stage of the Laredo Civic Center are opened and the girl appears with her escort. Local families will save for these dresses from birth and are fully involved in the design of the "Martha" dress for their daughter.


Everyone waits to see the grandiose costumes of the young ladies, supported by a lattice of hoops, the hand stitched elaborate silk, satin and velvet gowns are coated with beading, sequins, lace and ribbons from all over the world.


Linda refuses to dignify requests for the prices of the gowns with an answer, but estimates have ranged from $12-30,000 and having looked at them close-up I would say she earns every penny.


This was my personal favourite, I just adore the colour and style of this stunning gown. I only own one dress, just not into them, but I'm not sure any woman could resist donning one of these beauties just once!


I wish my waist was tiny enough to wear it, this could be just the motivation I need to diet!


I think Pam and I could have floated around this display for another hour happily dreaming and admiring, even our Hubsters were impressed for awhile.


My pictures don't even come close to doing these gowns justice, so if you ever get the chance to see them anywhere, do not miss it.

So which one would you want to wear?

38 comments:

Sherri said...

Sarah, the first word to come to mind is stunning!! I love the claret colored gown in the last picture! That would be my favorite, but they are all so exquisite! Thanks for sharing these beauties with us!!

Florence and Mary said...

WOW WOW WOW!!!

Which one would I wear - I want to wear them all!!!

Victoria xx

Expat mum said...

I like the ruby one in the center of the last photo, but I'm not sure I want to wear an 80lb dress. It was bad enough being pregnant!

Meri said...

I would just love to fit into ANY of them. They're positively amazing.

Sandy said...

Oh my! Those gowns are simply stunning. I love the black one from the first photo then again the red one has my eye too. :)

Daryl said...

Exquisite .. I wonder if the La Quinceanera celebrations are a some what less formal expression of the same 'coming out' party ... red is my color so ..

Pat - Arkansas said...

I would have been gobsmacked, too! Those are the most beautiful gowns I have ever seen. Their creator is a gifted artist.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Incredible, Canadian, TX you say to go see them. Wow

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Yogi, just a temporary exhibit that is now over.

Gaelyn said...

I like the B&W one in the second to last shot. It would be fun to dress up in, if one had the figure and could tolerate the corset. But 80 lbs. seems a bit much for everyday wear. Incredible exhibit.

Kay said...

Oh my gosh! That's incredible. The second to the last one is my favorite. I wonder if the girls have to wear a corsette...or is it corset? Sheesh! I forgot how to spell that. Well, how about a tight girdle?

George said...

Even I must admit that these are beautiful gowns.

Star said...

Loved them all Sarah. I love dresses and wish I could wear them all the time. Certainly wouldn't be able to do any housework in them, would we? It would just be a case of swanning around (literally) looking gorgeous. Actually these dresses are very flattering because most of the faults in one's figure, would be hidden beneath the beautiful gown.
Thank you for showing them to us.

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Which is even more reason to love them Star ;-)

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Beautiful Photos! Even though the dresses look great I'll bet they were a little uncomfortable to wear :-)

Winifred said...

They are gorgeous and the photos are brilliant. The detail is stunning.

What a great display. Hope they were well insured!

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Absolutely stunning craftsmanship !
What beauty.
To have the patience of sewing on all that 'pomp and ceremony' is to be commended, although the wearers had to be wore out bearing all that weight at day's end.
Such an enjoyable post,
Hugs,
Jo
x

richies said...

WOW! My granddaughters would love to see those gowns. Amazing

An Arkies Musings

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Beautiful gowns, Sarah... All of them are beautiful --but the one which caught my attention was the aqua colored one (turquoise???)... That color is gorgeous... Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

Midwest to Midlands said...

Which one would I want to wear? Well I would be very happy if I could fit into any one of those dresses. I am laughing to myself because last night I watched My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and they were all about the big skirts for their weddings, but in a totally different way.

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

Thank you so much for showing these off to us. I've never seen anything like them before. They are amazing!!!

Flea said...

OH. MY. WORD. Oh. WOW.

I like the second to last one, the black and white. It's incredible. WOW.

Pam said...

OMG, those dresses were the most fabulous surprise. I'm not sure I could pick a fave either. Every time you turned around and looked at the next one, it was a fave too. As stunning as they are in the pics, the real-life versions were ah-may-zing. Please don't make me pick a fave!!!! And what great hosts we had that weekend! :)

Pam said...

Okay, maybe that sage green and black one.... now that I go back and look again.

gigihawaii said...

These gowns put my long Hawaiian muumuus to shame. They are so elegant. I guess you'd need manicured hands, a nice bosom, and a tiny waist to look good in them. I think the turquoise gown would look terrific on you, Sarah! Excellent choice. As for me, I prefer either black or red.

Linda Reeder said...

These gowns are amazing. Such craftsmanship!
Are you saying that 13 of these are made every year?

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Linda I don't know how many they make, but there are usually about 17 debutantes and they all have a dress. Now whether some are reused I don't know, but many are new I believe!

Snippety Gibbet said...

Holy smokes! I was anxious to see these when you gave the little preview the other day. Can you imagine beading these things??? Wow. What an amazing collection. I thought whatever that preview photo was, it was something you saw back home in some palace museum. Who'd ever think that you found them in some museum in Texas...or the US. Amazing. Thank you for sharing them.

WinnibriggsHouse said...

Wow Sarah, I can see what you mean. Absolutely breathtaking. I once saw a Frenchman at one of our Knitting and Stitching shows hand embroidering gowns like this. I am so in awe of their talent!
Mine is a more practical one, but I would have loved to have had the chance to work in costume design or rather making. Something I didn't even consider when I was young! Thank you for sharing all those photos.
Jenny xx

WinnibriggsHouse said...

PS Sarah, just let me know what you would have chosen to remind you of 'home', send me your address and I would love to send something to you as a gift. My email is letterbox@winnibriggshouse.co.uk
Jenny xx

Jill of All Trades said...

Beautiful but frankly I want the waist!

Maureen said...

Oh my. I'm not a dress-wearing type either (I live in blue jeans nearly all the time) but I was very impressed with your post about this tradition and enjoyed looking at the photos of those gorgeous dresses.

A very interesting post.

Elaine Warner said...

Great job and your photography is so impressive. Thanks for sharing.

Daffodilly said...

The white one. I just love these type of dresses. 80lbs that is not going to happen very soon......

57d2b05e-a85b-11e4-bbe9-4b10e58457bb said...

I realize this is a bit late but the woman who designs these dresses is a really nasty piece of work. Unscrupulous, unkind and unhappy.

57d2b05e-a85b-11e4-bbe9-4b10e58457bb said...

I realize it is a bit late but the woman that designs these dresses is an extremely nasty piece of work. Unscrupulous, unkind and unhappy.

KurlieGurl9 said...

Breath taking. Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

I want 40 years back and the occasions to wear them and I would wear everyone of them.