Once a Bride | The Power of the Dress

Malena, dramatically opening her newest Journey Fashion Festival. Gown: Richard Petit of Papillon Dezign. Photo: Dennis Madigan

I had a bit of a writer’s block for this issue’s piece and I did have an inordinate amount of work, stress, life happening, as well as producing and directing The Journey Fashion Festival, which is no small task.

It’s a dream of mine that went from just that, a dream to a huge reality that is now filling my life with such joy, love, and work, plus a good amount of stress, not unlike planning a wedding ...

Due to delicious circumstances, we had just 10 days to produce our show in the most spectacular space on 60 Tenth Avenue in Manhattan, owned by Savanna. Our house photographer, Dennis Madigan, who is such a creative, supportive person, had a dress made that was out of this world. The designer, Richard Petit from Papillon Dezign, created a hot Valentine’s red parachute dress that almost floated over the floor. It was spectacular!

I decided to open the show in this fierce dress and while I floated over the runway wearing this dream of a gown in this spectacularly huge space, with all eyes on me, the photographer flashes blinding me, but leaving enough sight so I could see the smiles of the audience, this piece came to me.

Malena, dramatically opening her newest Journey Fashion Festival. Gown: Richard Petit of Papillon Dezign. Photo: Dennis MadiganI knew what I was going to write about: the feeling of it all coming together, the anticipation, the excitement, the extreme stress that turns into butterflies, the feeling of being a princess and allowing myself for just that one moment to love every minute of it, lick it all up, float and frolic in the sun, accept the love that is being offered, and acknowledge every set of eyes and return every smile and just-be-in-the-moment. Just like a wedding.

It all does come together. It might seem like an insurmountable amount of details, ideas, and concepts that are in your head and need to be expressed. Directions, more details, and things that can only be executed on the day of, so everything before that is just a theory.

But it takes a team. Yes, I am the one coming up with the ideas, directing and producing the show, booking everyone from models and ushers to dressers and lighting. It is all on me and it is a lot. But I cannot do it without the team around me. What would we do without makeup for a show, or a wedding? What would we do if it was not “forever-ized” by great photographers? If no one helped seat people, or helped dress people? What would I do without Fiona who makes sure I eat and sit down when I am about to faint because I just go-go-go and forget to take care of myself? What would I do without Philip, who knows how I want everything organized and flowing, and takes charge when everything hits the fan?

What would I do without the love and support of my friends and loved ones? Without my kids and husband, that feeling I described earlier would not be possible, because having them allows me to rest, cherish, and savor that feeling. They make me feel whole. None of this is possible without a team that believes in you and loves you. Just like a wedding.

All of this flew through my brain while floating. It took my breath away! And it took me right back to my wedding day. The same happy, giddy feeling I had when I walked down the aisle to meet my beloved David. The accomplishments, the love, the butterflies.

This was it, there was no turning back. Same with the show, we are live and there is no TiVo button. I love the fact that I felt that moment of “Once a Bride ... Always a Bride” so intensely, the very quote that I created and made into this column. Proving that “Dreams Do Come True.” Once a Bride ... Always a Bride. — Malena Belafonte, www.malenabelafonte.com