When Edith Head passed away in the fall of 1981, the world of fashion lost more than a costume designer. Known for dressing the greats –Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth and Katharine Hepburn– Head was a genius when it came to fabrication, tailoring, color balance and shape. The most telling evidence of her craft was her 1967 book, “How to Dress for Success.”
The book essentially breaks down a three-fold system of how to create the best garment for a woman. Head believed that every woman has the potential to create the perfect dress armed with the right knowledge about Color Aura, silhouette and design. The only issue was, in the decades after her passing, fast fashion became the dominant way of shopping. Women were asking for quick solutions to look good enough for everyday– and the customization process seemed cumbersome and time consuming.
Until now. Or until Piol, we should say.
Created by Anne Dayton (the woman guiding me in the second photo), Piol is the first user-friendly customized web destination solely for dresses. Launched last September, the website allows visitors to design the perfect dress, with a variety of options, specifically geared to their features, skin tone and size.
On Tuesday I got the opportunity to give the site a spin for their press event. In a beautiful midtown loft, editors got hands on experience with Piol. We also got the opportunity to talk to Dayton, who spent two years developing the idea. She’s kind of a customization genius, which is why it’s such an anomaly that her family founded Target. Yes, that Target.
Read our interview with the woman who plans to change the world of fashion by letting shoppers choose their own style.
On who would the ideal customer for PIOL: “I would like to say there is not a woman we can’t dress, and in some ways this sweeping statement is true. Unlike a typical brand, the make-to-measure aspect of PIOL means we can dress an incredibly wide range of women in age, shape and taste. Our customer is able to design her own dress – in color, style and fit – that is just right for her. She may be young and of the “Project Runway” persuasion, a working woman and/or mother with less time to shop, or an older woman who no longer wants to wear something three inches above the knee. To each of them, PIOL offers a perfect, go-to dress that is made solely for her to look and feel more beautiful and confident throughout her day.”
On the dresses being worth the cost: “I actually love our price point because we are contrarians to the fast fashion, sample sale, and impulse buying so prevalent today. Our dresses are hand sewn to her specifications in New York City with beautiful fabrics from Italy, France and Japan. It is a classic, quality and a well-fit dress that one can wear all the time. While it may cost more at the start, for the amount of wear she will put into it, the dress will be well worth its price.”
On the most surprising aspect of Edith Head and her color theory: “For me, the most surprising aspect to Edith Head was how painterly her approach was to designing a dress. She had an amazing eye for color and how to use it to enhance a woman’s natural beauty. While most designers create for a certain woman or muse, as a costume designer, Edith dressed a wide array of women. It was her job to enhance the unique beauty of each actress, and she used color to achieve this goal. Realizing that certain colors could highlight an actress’s hair, eyes and skin, she applied the same color theory that portrait painters have used for centuries. Obviously, the only way she could use color in such a particular way was because all her dresses were custom-made. That is where the make-to-measure piece of PIOL comes into play.”
Read more on the next pages and see images from the event as well.