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Up next we have a special interview with three of Rachel Mace’s models. Constance Wessman, Ria Bertone and Gabrielle Deede

What was the most interesting aspectof being Rachel’s model?

Constance: Being Rachel’s model had many interesting aspects to it. Probably the most unique thing about wearing Rachel’s design was the materials used in the process of making the dress. No fabric was used in any of her designs

Ria: The most interesting aspect, definitely the eccentricities of Rachel. She really is an artist. Some of her pieces came together with hardly any planning in a few days, while others took weeks with a grand plan for the final look. Some days she is surrounded by what seems like thousands of mis matched beads, other nail polish, others stacks of magazine. She never does the same thing twice.

Gabrielle: Rachel is an exceptionally easy person to work with. She puts a lot of life and energy into her pieces, but also her models. I’ve known Rachel for about six years and the more I work with her, the more I realize how much her models are like family to her. She maintains respectful distance, but over time, we all kind of fuse together. I have the delight of being a personal friend of hers as well, but I love watching her breathe life into others. She’s also great in a pinch, perfect for runway modeling. She rarely skips a beat and is able to pull everyone together when things are falling apart. I swear, her purse has everything from boob tape to sandwiches.

Explain, in your words, the process that went into the piece you wore?

C: To create my SheDreamsInBlue dress, Rachel first used masking tape as a base around my entire torso. I had to stand very still in her kitchen while she placed paper machee all over the tape which created the corset of the dress. Rachel literally had to cut me out of the corset when it was dried! After placing it on her manequin, Rachel continued the paper machee feeling of the dress by layering multiple colors of tissue paper over the base. To form the bottom of the dress, she took materials like carpet lining, tissue paper, and bubble wrap and cut them into strips to give the skirt movement and mobility. As a backup in case my skirt was a little too mobile, she made my own decorated underwear which we fondly referred to as “Vajazzling”.

R: For my dress she knew she wanted something to show off my curves. It started with a chicken wire corset, but when she decided she didn’t like the look of that she asked that I give her an old bra and started working on the skirt. The next time I came to visit her she had my bra covered in the word “Fashion” and, as I mentioned above, a stack of magazines torn apart and being sorted based on their content of fashion and color schemes. At this time we were still brainstorming on how to corset the middle of the dress. By some crazy chance we found a banged up corset at value village and bent the wires to fit my body. Turns out I was too curvy for it. Pretty soon she had changed a stack of fashion magazines, an old bra, and second hand shoes into an amazing statement. “Fashion is Sexy”.

G: As far as my piece went, I was only fitted twice. She made me the corset out of paper mache and an old fitted tank top, and then when I saw the piece again, it was completed and only need a few embellishments to make it fit properly. I was impressed that she finished it so easily without me there.

Fittings, travel, photoshoots… What element was the part you loved over everything else?

C: My favorite part about working with Rachel was the ease at which I was able to become friends with her. We didn’t know each other at all before she started making my dress. I’m a shy person, so having Rachel taping my entire upper body was more than enough to tie my tongue, but her witty humor and easy going personality quickly brought me out of my shell. Her personality is what made the fittings, traveling, and photoshoots good experiences.

R: The fittings were endless entertainment. One day she was fitting me and asked me if I trusted her…a statement I have heard a good number of times from her. I cautiously said yes. She then took her hot glue gun to my back (using her hand to protect my skin) and glued the bra to the corset. She would throw herself in front of a bus to protect her models, and burned off her finger prints to protect me. The photoshoots were amazing. She pushed me to new heights I never thought I could reach, partially thanks to a pair or two of platform heels. She used sound effects to help me with my posing. For example she used a slurping sound to tell me to flex my stomach and inhale for a picture. I wouldn’t be the model I am today if it weren’t for her. She believed in me, and helped me push myself farther than I thought I could. She may be the only designer to tell her models to NOT loose weight, or brag about her short curvy model. The traveling was great, and even through all the stress we were all put under, Rach kept her head on her shoulders and just kept working to make everything turn out perfect on the runway. She even took charge and taught half the models in the show how to walk a runway. Even when my car broke down and the two of us were stranded in Portland for a few extra days after the show she didn’t freak out or worry, we just enjoyed our time and explored the city together. I think the fittings may be my favorite part. Rachel and I have become very close friends over the past year, and staying up late with her to help distract her cats from chewing up her dresses, or making runs to the hardware store for odds and ends are all memories I’ll never forget.

G:  I love traveling. I love going somewhere for a weekend, being with people I love, and rocking the runway with sass. There’s something about being anonymous for an afternoon and suddenly getting everyone buzzing about your dress that is exhilarating.

What one element of Rachel’s designs do you love the most?

C: I love that Rachel creates a one of a kind dress by using each models own body. These aren’t your every day, run-of-the-milll dresses you can buy off the rack. Each one is unique. The time she put into each one is reflected in each detail and the multiple fittings each model went through to ensure the dress was perfect.

R: I love that Rachel never does the same thing twice. She pushes herself with every dress to become better than ever before. It’s truly amazing to watch her work. It’s the little details that no one will ever notice on a runway that make the dresses so amazing to me. The 3 different shades of nail polish on the doll dress that Gabby wore to accent the little paper flowers. Her own jewelry that she took apart to accent a few of the dresses. She takes so much pride in her work. She really appreciates her models too. She makes it clear that these dresses are custom and can’t be just switched from girl to girl. They were each made with their model in mind, and none of us can or will be replaced.

G: I love how spontaneous her designs are. Yet, they have so much purpose. Every bead, every curve, it all has a purpose. She draws so much from literature and art and personal experience, it’s impossible not to see that in her gowns. When I put on one of her pieces, it feels a little trans formative. Like I’m wearing a piece of her life story.

Would you do another line with Rachel?

C: I would love to do another line with Rachel!! Unfortunately, I’ll be leaving for college soon and wouldnt be able to give her the time necessary for the dress!

R: I would do another line with Rach. I would go to the end of the world and back for that girl if she asked me too… and bribed me with chocolate. I would love to be in every line she ever does, as long as she thinks I am what she is looking for, for that line.

G: I would absolutely LOVE to do another line with Rachel. We have a similar taste in vintage inspired pieces and whimsy. I hope to work with her throughout the rest of my life. I know she will do great things. Not only is she a great designer, but she knows her way around the entire field. She is a great runway coach as well as fellow model, and photography assistant. She gets business done.

What advice would you give to other models looking to work with Rachel?

C: If you want to work with Rachel, be prepared with personality. No one wants to work with a dull, or even worse, snotty model. If her next line is anything like the one I was a part of, there will be plenty of photoshoots and traveling opportunities which means you’ll be spending a lot of time representing Rachel. Besides being a genuinely nice person, and hopefully this goes without saying, be professional.

R: For any future models that work with Rachel, the best thing you can be is hard working, and the worst thing you can be is full of complaints. She expects her models to work hard and push them selves, but she also understands that everyone has limits and she doesn’t want to push past those. She expects a lot at times, but she also gives a lot back. She really does care about every girl she pics to model her dresses and there is a reason she picked them. Have fun, be confidant, but not cocky. Also, she is an eccentric artist. Sometimes that means she is a little strange, but that’s ok and it makes her who she is.

G:  Be yourself. Don’t be afraid of your body, embrace it. Rachel isn’t looking for girls with weak skin, she wants strong, powerful, beautiful women who love themselves and want to give that gift to the world. And if you want extra points, bring the sass.

Any final words?

C: Final words?….Vajazzle

R: Rachel is going to go far one day, but I don’t think she’ll ever forget where she came from or all the help she has had a long the way.

G: Rachel is one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. She has changed me. Through her art, her friendship, her compassion, and her drive. If she wants it, she will go get it. And with style. She is my inspiration to keep going through my life and continue my own artistic endeavors.

Constance Wessman

Ria Bertone

Gabrielle Deede

Be sure to check out more about Constance, Ria and Gabrielle at Totally Trashed Fashion