A teenager from New York is going viral for her elaborate and creative dress designs.
Angela Clayton, an 18-year-old hailing from Long Island, is an amateur seamstress who makes and showcases her own clothes through her online blog Angela Clayton’s Costumery. After being promoted across popular sites like Buzzfeed and Twitter, she’s gaining traction as one of the hottest young dress designers on the web.
“I love making costumes,” Clayton explained on her website. “I love bringing ideas to life.”
Her specialty is fantasy and fairytale dresses that are inspired by movies, books and video games. For example, she once created an amazingly lifelike rendition of Elsa’s dress from the movie Frozen. It took more than 100 hand-applied rhinestones to cover 10 yards of fabric, but the results were stunning.
According to Clayton, she started experimenting with fashion as a 14-year-old intrigued by cosplay. Her first outfit was a Japanese schoolgirl uniform inspired by one of her favorite anime.
“I was into cosplay, making costumes or wearing costumes to conventions, and I couldn’t afford the costumes that were available online,” she told interviewers. So she grabbed a sewing machine and started making her own. The first costume took her two solid months of labor, but it inspired a lifelong passion.
Clayton has also attracted attention for her beautiful portfolio images. Instead of showing her dresses on a hook, hanger or anonymous model, she dons her creations herself and creates elaborate photo shoots to show them off. She often poses in majestic outdoor locations meant to replicate the look and feel of the dresses’ original worlds.
“I don’t charge myself to model and I’m always available for fittings,” she joked.
Clayton also has an interest in historical clothing and accessories. She’s created hand-sewn versions of famous outfits worn by everyone from Ana de Mendoza to Napoleon Bonaparte. She admits that her historical accuracy isn’t always the best, but she has a genuine love for the designs of centuries past.
“I would like to be a dressmaker to kings and queens in Renaissance times,” she wrote on her website. “I don’t think that will actually happen but I keep making dresses and hoping…”
As a teenager, Clayton is often asked if she’ll be attending college, but she’s unsure about the prospect. She’d prefer to break into the costuming industry and spend her four years gaining real-world experience rather than classroom knowledge.
“A lot of the jobs in the costume world require four years of experience in a workshop,” she said. “I would rather go straight into that if I can instead of spending four years at school.”
According to Clayton, anyone can do what she does as long as they practice. She’s very open about the fact that she started as a young teenager with no idea what she was doing. She even jokes that she’s still an amateur just playing around with fabrics and buttons.
“I’m self taught and learn through trial and error,” says her Tumblr header. “Every day is a new sewing adventure!”
Despite her humor, however, she encourages young dressmakers to keep the dream alive. She even writes and posts tutorials on her blog to help other dressmakers learn the ropes. Typical post titles include “Making A Cinderella-Inspired Dress” and “Making A 16th Century Bodice.”
“If you practice, you can definitely do it,” Clayton says. She warns that it might take amateurs awhile to build their skills, but she wants them to keep designing, creating and sewing no matter how long it takes.
“It comes naturally to some people,” she says, “but it is definitely something you can learn how to do.”