When Gemma Winter from Coronation Street enters the wedding aisle the following week, orange will unquestionably replace black.
Drag queen and fashion designer Liquorice Black, who is renowned for his beautiful, one-of-a-kind designs, worked with her to co-design and create her enormous, jaw-dropping orange wedding dress.
The garment of Gemma’s dreams was made by Manchester-based designer Liquorice Black in collaboration with actress Dolly Rose Campbell and Coronation Street costume designer Alex Hatzar.
On-screen Gemma purchased a charity shop dress that her friend, seamstress Izzy Armstrong, who is portrayed by Cherylee Houston, colored and customized.
In actuality, Liquorice Black’s Manchester studio created the amazing two-meter wide dress with the stunning seven-meter long train and fairy lights.
Because Dolly’s co-stars couldn’t get close enough to film close-up moments because the dress is so enormous, a shorter version had to be created.
Dolly stated: “Alex in costume and I had numerous conversations about what Gemma would choose as her fantasy garment and had come up with some suggestions. We chose orange as a reference to both Gemma and Chesney’s gingerness and Gemma’s appreciation of vibrant colors.
“I knew Liquorice Black would be the best person to make the dress because I’ve met him before and have seen his work on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. I was overjoyed when he said yes.”
Alex Hatzar, the head of costume for Coronation Street, stated: “Dolly and I had discussed Gemma’s wedding gown for years, even before she was dating Chesney! I’ve always knew I wanted it to light up, but I didn’t want it to just light up the skirt like we’ve all seen before. I was aware that it had to have a wow factor and that Gemma would never choose a white dress. Because Gemma is so colorful, orange just seemed to fit the persona, and it also fit Chesney and the family she’s marrying into!
“Since the character doesn’t have any money, we had to script quite a bit of it to make it work. It was extremely beneficial that Dolly and I had very early discussions, about 6 months before to filming, so we could communicate with editorial, and they helped make it happen. As I knew there wouldn’t be enough time or money for multiple dresses for repeats or for a stunt double to wear, I also asked that there be no spills or stunts on the dress.
“Liquorice’s inclusion was Dolly’s idea; she was familiar with him from Drag Race UK and adored the costumes he had created for that. I was immediately sold after viewing his Instagram profile, liquorice_originals; he was just that we were searching for! When we first saw him in December, we discussed various concepts. I had created a mood board with the ideas I had for the dress, but I also needed to let him know that it had to be functional because Dolly would be wearing it all day long and people would be able to see it from all sides.
Figures and facts
The outfit includes 125 meters of wire with tiny fairy lights, and a remote control turns on the lights on the train.
There are roughly 10,000 stones that are all manually glued on one at a time.
Making the outfit took more than 200 hours.
Dolly wanted the train to be longer, but we had to restrain her because it is only 7 meters long.
In order for Dolly’s other actors to be able to approach her in the sequences, we had 2 skirts made—the one you’ve all seen and a much shorter, smaller one she wore in the close-up shots.
You can view Liquorice Black’s work at liquourice_black.
Complete interview with Liquorice Black is below.
How did you come to be a part of creating this amazing dress?
Someone from Corrie contacted me, claiming that I would be able to make a wedding dress, according to a common friend of mine and Dolly’s. I initially declined it since I wasn’t sure it would be my style. I had no idea what kind of bridal gown they were seeking or that I would even be able to pull it off. Dolly then got in touch with me directly to let me know what it was and how much she would love for me to accomplish it.
Dolly then got in touch with me directly to let me know what it was and how much she would love for me to accomplish it. Dolly and the head of costume met with me, and the two of them absolutely persuaded me that it would be a really enjoyable project to work on and that I could bring their vision to life. So I consented.
Before you became involved, were you familiar with Gemma’s personality?
No, I wasn’t familiar with the character, so I started watching videos on YouTube and reading about her. After realizing how much fun she is and what an outrageous sense of style she has, I thought it would be entertaining to work on this wedding dress.
How did the partnership with Alex and Dolly function?
I questioned them to find out what they want and what their original ideas were for the dress’s design. Alex and Dolly made it obvious they didn’t want it to be the conventional white dress by showing me pictures of other more outrageous wedding gowns as starting points. We kind of tossed several concepts around before deciding that orange was the best choice. It is a striking color that will stick out greatly and, clearly, perfect for the character with Chesney.
Dolly wanted lights, flowers, and a very long train. There were numerous suggestions for working together. ‘Could you make something?’ was not the question. and after that I simply went off and completed it; it truly was a team effort?
Did you also have to think of how Dolly would wear the dress while filming?
She must wear that dress for a very long time, without a doubt. Actually, there are two dresses. To enable close-up filming, there are two of them: one shorter and one longer. On the day of the filming, my sister Louise and I were present.
Since the dress has many intricate moving pieces, including zips, buckles, and underskirts, my first plan was to simply be on hand to assist if they needed assistance moving the dress or putting her in it. A needle and thread were available in case somebody unintentionally stepped on the dress, and I was also on hand to remedy any mistakes on the spot. We had a great time getting a behind-the-scenes look at how things are produced and how the costumes fit in the locations and are used during production.
Was it fun for you to work with Dolly?
I truly did a lot of work; Dolly is just a glorified drag queen. She is, in my opinion, a better drag queen than I am. Since she had a vivid imagination on par with any other drag queen I’ve worked with, the procedure was actually quite comparable. She demanded excesses of everything, so occasionally I had to break the bad news that she couldn’t have a fifteen-meter train or additional fairy lights. Working with her was wonderful. She is just fantastic, in my opinion.
What makes this outfit different from the costumes you’ve created for RuPaul’s Drag Race?Was there anything in particular that was challenging?
Definitely the size of the dress, as it is perhaps the largest garment I have ever created. As the dress was essentially eating the material, I had to keep returning to the fabric stores to buy more and more of it. I would sew a few more underskirts before realizing it needed to be bigger. The underskirt alone has hundreds of meters of tulle. There are other specifics, such as all the lights that needed to be installed. It took my sister seven days to sew 125 meters of fairy lights in while she was helping me.
So, did you work on it alone back then, or did you have a team?
Usually it’s just me, but when I need help, my sister comes in and helps. Many of the rhinestones were manually attached, and my sister hand-stitched all of the lights into the outfit. They are fussy, therefore it takes time to do those things.
When your invention appears on Coronation Street, how will you feel?
It has been such an honor for me—I’m from Manchester—to work on this garment and to be allowed to take part in a wedding that will be shown on the show. I feel really fortunate to have contributed in some tiny way to the history of Coronation Street, a UK institution. I am forward to see it on television.
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