Ciara Gen was only 17 years old when she handpainted her own unique gown for her graduation ball. After she posted photos of her dress online, her art career has taken off.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 17, 2020. It has since been updated.
Prom night is one of the biggest events of any high schooler's life. For any student, it's all about getting to spend one last evening with all your closest friends and having a chance to get all dolled up for the occasion. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a lot of students think about every last detail of their outfits. Some may even spend thousands of dollars on their dress or suit. However, one student from the Philippines wanted to take things into her own hands - quite literally. Ciara Gen, a 17-year-old high school senior, wanted a unique gown to wear to her graduation ball. Grabbing a paintbrush and some paint, she decided to get creative.
Ciara is incredibly passionate about art. She can paint and makes invites, stickers, vector art, and a lot more. She chose to turn her greatest passion into a gown for one of the most memorable events of her life. First, she hit the drawing board. The (now former) student designed her dress, sketching out a pattern and making a plan. Next, she chose materials and fabric. Ciara constructed the bodice of the dress and sewed its skirt into pleats with the help of her mom. She sewed each pleat one by one in order to achieve the ballgown construction that she had designed, she explained in a video uploaded to YouTube. Each individual pleat had boning on it so it would maintain its structure.
The next stage involved the fun part - painting the beautiful flowers. As Ciara did not have a mannequin, she improvised by propping her gown onto an easel. The student made several drafts of what she wanted her dress to look like using an app on her iPad. After choosing her color palette, she went at the dress, starting off with a white base. While painting the flowers onto the dress only took five days, it took a whole month to design, sew, and construct the dress. Ciara even bedazzled her gown by hand. In the end, it turned out to be a complete masterpiece! On the big evening of her graduation ball, she looked absolutely breathtaking.
i made and painted my own gown for my graduation ball! 💚✨— ciara gan (@ciaragan) April 8, 2019
i painted over 80 flowers, sewed + stoned my dress with my mama and designed the whole thing myself! 🧡🌼 pic.twitter.com/fsDwQK1NfD
In an interview, the student revealed she was inspired to craft the dress by her mom, who motivated her to make the dress. She said, "Because I love to try new things, I thought, 'Why not?' It was my last big event for school and I had about a month of graduation practices, so I’d be able to focus more on making my gown without worrying about schoolwork." Ciara also explained why she chose to paint tiger lilies rather than roses or other popular flowers. "I recently reread the book Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (which touched my heart) and then decided to paint the orange florals," she explained. "I strayed away from basic roses and dainty florals because although they’re pretty, they don’t reflect my personality. I love the vibrancy of loud colors like orange and green - they speak more about who I am."
Ever since she posted photos of her dress online, she's gained immense traction. Her art career, as a result, is taking off. She has received numerous requests for commissions. "It really warms my heart to see people appreciating my art," she said. Ciara posts her artwork on her Instagram profile. At present, her profile is full of illustrations, paintings, and more. She has over 55.3k followers - and she's only growing. If you'd like to commission your own unique artwork, you can email her at email@example.com. Alternatively, you can also send her a private message on Twitter.