Photo by Mykl Randle, courtesy Gail Be
There’s one aspect of wedding planning we can all agree makes our hearts flutter like it did during that first kiss with “The One.” It’s usually the first thing we see when we imagine that big day—the dress. It’s part of our wedding fantasy. Local designer Gail Be had a fantasy of her own, and by the end of this year, her "Fantasy" will become a reality.
Be and 23 other women are putting the finishing touches on the world’s largest beaded wedding dress. At 400-plus pounds, 20.5 feet long, and 18 feet across, Fantasy isn’t a dress Be expects to be worn at an actual wedding. “My calling was to make her,” Be says. She’s not concerned with how someone will move in the fully beaded, fabric-free dress; to her, it’s art. “I’ve always planned that this is what it was going to be."
Fantasy has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks, bringing Be’s story of triumph out of heartbreak along for the ride. After a degenerative eye disease left her legally blind for five years, followed by a hand surgery, Be was unable to bead and instead spent her time building her extensive bead collection. Having taken no lessons in beading or sewing, Be believes her designs are spiritually gifted to her—she works from an image in her mind and makes no sketches. “I can see the dress in my mind for a very short amount of time, and then I have to explain to my design team where we’re going with it,” she says.
While Fantasy isn’t a gown anyone should fantasize walking down the aisle in with ease, Be is also making pieces that are equally beautiful but easier to wear. Lady Gaga recently wore a headpiece and beaded top Be calls "Erotic Ice" for her "Cheek to Cheek” album artwork, and she is currently working on a red carpet dress called "Temptress." While Temptress, like her previous gowns, came from her own inspiration with no one person in mind, she thinks the dress belongs on “someone tall who can really pull off what this dress is going to be,” like Taylor Swift, Nicole Kidman, or Charlize Theron.
Be hopes Fantasy catapults her career into the world of Hollywood dress and costume design. “The white wedding dress is the most international symbol of clothing,” she says. Fantasy is a fitting name for the dress because, “for me personally, the fantasy was to get this dress completed,” but also because wedding dresses are fantasized about by so many women.