Carrie Rengers

Rebecca’s divine dress welcomes The Wichita Eagle

There have been all kinds of welcomes for The Wichita Eagle at its new Old Town Square home this week. Some even came from outside Old Town (thanks to the Sedgwick County Zoo for the eagle-shaped cookies).

None of the welcomes has been so personal – or time-consuming to produce – as the one that Rebecca Simpson offered.

Her shop, Rebecca’s, is The Eagle’s across-the-patio neighbor.

When The Eagle officially opened in its new spot on Monday morning, a stunning dress made of Wichita Eagle newspapers stood on a dress form in Rebecca’s window to greet employees.

The idea for the dress – but not the window display – came to Simpson in a dream a few weeks ago.

“I dream designs,” she says. “I woke up and thought, ‘A dress out of paper, that would be really cool.’ 

Simpson makes all the clothing and custom bedding in her shop, but she didn’t consider making the dress in her dream since there’s not a market for dresses made of newspaper.

“And then I thought, ‘Well, it would be cool to make it and just welcome you guys,’ so that’s what I did.”

Even though Simpson spent between 20 and 30 hours hand-stitching and hot-gluing the dress, the toughest part was finding the newspapers. Everyone she asked had either been reading the publication online or had already thrown away their papers. Finally she found some in a recycling bin.

As she was making the belt – the last piece of the dress – Simpson found a paper that said “the heart of Wichita” on it. She thought it was a great sentiment about the publication and then realized that the story actually was about The Eagle’s move.

“I laughed … that just out of all the papers I could have gotten from all kinds of people … that was the last thing. … But God does things like that to me all the time.”

Items on the store’s Facebook page usually get about 600 views, but there are more than 4,000 views of the dress so far.

Though it might be easy to scoff about divine inspiration for a dress, Simpson believes it, even if she doesn’t understand why God might be interested.

“I don’t know. I just feel like he’s got something great for you guys. I don’t know what it is, but it’s awesome. I just think it’s awesome.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers