Bonnie Bing: Wichita bride wins couture gown at fundraising auction

10/14/2012 7:09 AM

10/14/2012 7:09 AM

When Alana Fearey arrived at the 40th anniversary celebration for Music Theatre of Wichita last year, she didn’t know she would leave with the promise of a couture gown.

And not just any gown — her wedding gown.

One of the live auction items was a made-to-order, one-of-a-kind gown by designer George Mitchell. He designed the costumes for Music Theatre’s “Sunset Boulevard” and “Honk.” He has been designing for many years and has become well-known for his work. He takes time off from his job with the Craig Ferguson show in California to come to Wichita from time to time to design a show.

“I need it for my creative outlet,” he said.

The result of his creativity was a wedding gown that the bride and entire wedding party were thrilled with. That includes Alana’s new husband, Bryan Longwell.

“Oh yes, he loved it, and it turned out even better than I imagined,” Alana said.

After she had the winning bid of $2,500, the process started with a phone conversation between the bride and the designer. At George’s request, Alana sent him a photo of her in a swimsuit so he could determine her body type and proportions.

“She was so easy to work with, and she has a nice figure,” George said when he was in Wichita last summer. “She sent me photos of dresses she liked, then I sent her four drawings,” he said.

While he was in town, the muslin prototype was fitted so that when the dress was made in the beautiful fabric and lace chosen, it would fit perfectly.

Heather Coiner-Fernandez, who has worked for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, used safety pins on the muslin bodice while Alana stood very still.

“I’m so thankful Heather is here. She is an expert pattern-cutter. You can draw all the pretty pictures you want, but you’ve got to have a good cutter to get the perfect fit,” George said. “Once that bad boy is cut, it’s cut, so it has to be right.”

The dress Alana picked from the drawings was a mermaid style with clean lines but plenty of beautiful details.

She said the dress is so special to her because she got to be part of the design process and loved every minute of it. Even the wedding photographer, Tim Davis, could tell it was something special.

“I did tell her that I’d seen a lot of wedding dresses, but I’d never seen one like hers,” he said.

She has the dress, but it will be stored. So she’s thrilled to have the drawing that George did of her wedding gown and plans to have it framed.

Her parents, Sharon and Alan Fearey, and her husband’s parents, Susie and Jeff Longwell, encouraged the bidding at the auction and were glad they did so.

Chuckling, Alana said, “To think when I went to that fundraiser I’d be leaving with a dress.”

Want to be a model?

I’m working with the folks at Starkey Inc. on a very fun event, Style & Sole, which will be Nov. 15 at Suede Lounge in Old Town. There’s going to be musical entertainment and a big fashion show. So, of course, models are needed. You won’t get paid, but you’ll have fun and know your talent is going for a good cause.

Come to a model call from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at Suede, 141 N. Rock Island.

We’ll be choosing at least a dozen models to strut the runway Nov. 15. They’ll show off some great clothes from several local merchants. No modeling experience is necessary.

All proceeds from the event will go to Starkey, an organization that nurtures development and promotes independence of people with intellectual disabilities.

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