I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
I love this dress. I've actually had it in my inspiration folder for a couple years, and I keep coming back to it. It's from Betsey Johnson's 1985 collection, and she showed it again for her fall 2008 show to celebrate her 30 years in the biz.
I've always thought this gun print was so amazing and have often contemplated imitating it with graffiti-style stencils on fabric. There's something so badass about the image of a handgun, especially when combined with a feminine silhouette like this one. It makes me think of Bonnie Parker, especially with the long, lean skirt. It balances punk and glam perfectly, and let's face it—it would look awesome with tattoos. As evidenced by this short pink version:
But in a strange moment of synchronicity, I came across this picture on my computer the day after the shootings in Tucson. I'd already been thinking that day about gun laws and the ways we seem to let the mentally ill fall through the cracks. To be clear: I don't know the solutions to these issues, and I'm not saying I know how the shooting could have been prevented. But the images of the guns on the dress struck me as more sinister than I'd seen them previously. Of course, this got me thinking about what we say with our clothes. What exactly are you saying to the world by wearing this kind of dress? That guns are cool? That violence is awesome? Or just that you have a sense of irony about the way you dress?
I know I must sound really bleeding-heart liberal right now, and that dresses with guns printed on them are the least of our problems in the U.S. And it's not really any different from, say, a dress with skulls on it. And I am still leaning toward the dress being badass and a total "yea" and worth taking the time to replicate on my own. I just think it's interesting when the semiotics of fashion breaks down a bit and becomes suddenly strange to the viewer. And fashion has always had a fascination with the play between glamorous and macabre, so perhaps that's all that's at play here.