By Dawn M Chiossi
Clothes: For women, they are so much more than just covering for their bodies. For generations, many women have a lifelong love affair with them, and it begins early. From the time a baby girl is born, mothers everywhere delight in buying cute (often frilly) clothes for them. They will dress up their baby girls for company, for events, and even for every day. The girls then will often receive praise, smiles, compliments and all sorts of positive reinforcements regarding how they look.
It is a seed that often takes root. One of the most popular games for little girls is playing dress up. They eye what is pretty and fashionable, relishing fabrics and textures, and trying on clothes.
As she grows, a girl’s fascination with clothing often expands to shopping trips with friends and experimenting with styles. They see what appeals, what others are wearing, enjoy their favorite colors, and see what looks good on them.
The delight for clothes, caring about how they look, continues well into adulthood. No matter what age a woman may be, regardless of her birthday, searching for that special outfit that makes them glow and exude inner confidence is a timeless pursuit.
Clothes are an integral part of a woman’s life.
The feeling is often universal: No matter her style, from the classic to the beautiful, or the stunningly chic, or fun and trendy, just being in the perfect outfit for the occasion (or just an ordinary day) makes women feel confident, strong, powerful and utterly attractive.
It’s more than just an image they want to project: looking good gives a psychological boost to women everywhere. The right outfit can cause a sensation. Marilyn Monroe is synonymous with the sexy white cocktail dress she wore in The Seven Year Itch designed by William Travilla. Just thinking about how elegantly Audrey Hepburn carried off any look she wore, French designer Hubert de Givenchy was her man. Lady Gaga expresses her unique and often changing style (from the meat dress to the bustier black silk dress) with a variety of designers.
First Ladies’ Jacqueline Kennedy and Michelle Obama were much admired for their fashion and the way they carried themselves as much as for their contributions to the country.
While all of these women are different, they all have one thing in common: They rocked their clothes.
Fashion design is a thriving business. Onlookers and viewers of TV often hear the question, “Who are you wearing?” to female celebrities at red carpet events. A particular person’s dress can be talked about more than the reason they are there in the first place.
In fashion, there’s one steadfast rule: When a person feels good, they look good.
Clothes for a woman are often referred to as her armor or dressing for battle, and it is true. When women want to exude confidence, competence, and strength, they will often turn to fashion first.
From the essential go-to little black dress to the power suit for that critical meeting, when women are first confident in what they wear, they can conquer the world.
This feeling was never more important than on a woman’s wedding day, choosing the perfect dress.
Aspiring Clothing Designers, Mount Olive teen cousins, Genevieve and Hannah Lake don’t just believe in this attitude, they are working hard to make it happen with their own bridal designs.
Growing up in Montville Township, Genevieve Lake has always been interested in clothes, specifically wedding gowns. Deciding to expand her love of them to design them for others, this inspiring designer aspires to create clothes that make a woman feel as good as she can on the inside as well as the outside. Knowing that the most beautiful thing a woman can wear is a confident attitude, and celebrating women’s unique and different personalities, Lake’s designs are as much about exuding power and strength as well as beauty.
It is an essential common theme that carries throughout her designs. Knowing that when searching for a wedding dress, for what is perhaps the most special day of their
lives, every future bride seeks to find one that makes them dazzle from within. Whether that is a traditional dress or a more innovative one, Lake can do it all.
She has attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California, nabbing a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Studies.
Lake’s ultimate ambition is to run her own bridal business — from design to salon.
In an impressive feat, she has already had her designs featured in several venues including New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, and El Paseo Fashion Week in Palm Desert California.
As every woman who has ever tried on clothing knows, they come in all different shapes and sizes. Many women may be different sizes on the top or bottom, short, tall, curvy, or more. It is likely that most women are a combination of all of these.
What is essential is that they find clothing that embraces these elements, and makes them feel not just empowered, but invincible.
She is elated to be interning with famous designer Vera Wang.
Lake is inspired by designers Monique Lhuillier, Elie Saab, and Jeremy Scott; her tastes are both broad and eclectic.
According to Lake, she fell in love with design when watching Project Runway, sketching her own designs along with the show, and when her mother–a seamstress and designer herself, taught her to sew.
Lake was so enthusiastic regarding design, she realized she was hooked when she designed her own First Communion Dress.
“The woman who wears my designs knows who she is,” Lake asserts proudly, “She’s just a very independent woman.”
Her cousin, Hannah Lake is one of those women. Smart and successful, she began modeling her cousin’s designs when she asked her at Christmastime to design a prom dress for her. “It started out as kind of a joke,” Lake tells, knowing that Genevieve designed her cousin’s wedding dress. “But then it just took off,” she shares.
It was Hannah Lake who modeled her cousin’s designs, posting mainly on her sites, but also in the important interview process.
She discloses that her cousin can literally whip up a sketch of a design just from having a simple conversation of what the person likes and wants. “I can’t do that, but it’s amazing.”
Describing her prom dress as something that was definitely bridal inspired with a full skirt, train and underdress, Lake is thrilled. “It definitely made a statement. It was definitely empowering to wear the dress,” she says.
Lake also mentions how her cousin’s designs are uniquely personal to the person wearing them. In talking about her prom dress, she mentions how she and Genevieve wanted to make the dress light blue as it was their grandmother’s favorite color and include pearls on the dress to honor their grandmother’s favorite gem. “It was definitely sentimental,” Lake shares. “When I tried on the dress, I was speechless and felt like it was made for me. I felt like I was one with the dress. That it was made for that moment. I would definitely model for her again.” Lake enthuses.
Lake also sews and has an interest in design. She considers herself lucky to be a part of the design process with her cousin. “It’s something I’ll always remember and be empowered for years… That we saw (the design journey) happen. That we made it happen.”
“I would help Genevieve in any way I could so she can achieve her dream,” Lake prides. “Even though she is only 22, she’s a name in design already. It is definitely empowering to be a woman now,” she remarks. “Where we can rise up in the ranks and go all the way.”
After graduating from Mount Olive High School, Lake is planning to attend Honors College at Rutgers University. In addition to modeling her cousin’s works, she plans to study a myriad of subjects to become involved on a pre-med track.
Loving beautiful clothes may be in the genes for women, but the perfect dress is more than just a Cinderella fantasy. Making them look as powerful, confident, and beautiful on the outside as they feel on the inside; women are in good hands with Mt. Olive’s dress designers Genevieve and Hannah Lake.