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Gemma Winter Wedding Dress Reveal!

Orange is definitely the new Black for Coronation Street’s Gemma Winter when she walks down the aisle next week.

Her huge jaw dropping orange wedding gown has been co-designed and made by drag queen and fashion designer Liquorice Black - famous for his stunning unique creations.

Manchester based designer Liquorice Black worked in conjunction with Coronation Street costume designer Alex Hatzar and actress Dolly Rose Campbell to create the dress of Gemma’s dreams.

On screen Gemma has bought a charity shop dress which has been dyed and customised by her pal, seamstress Izzy Armstrong, played by Cherylee Houston.

In reality the impressive two metre wide dress, with stunning seven metre long train, complete with fairy lights, was crafted at Liquorice Black’s studio in Manchester.

The dress is so large that a short version had to be made as Dolly’s co-stars couldn’t get near enough to film close up scenes.

Dolly said: “Myself and Alex in costume had lots of discussions about what Gemma would want as her dream dress and had put some ideas together. We decided on orange as a nod to Gemma and Chesney being ginger and also Gemma loves bright colours.

“I have met Liquorice Black previously and had seen his work on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK so I knew that he would be the best person to make the dress, I was absolutely delighted when he said yes.”

Coronation Street Head of Costume Alex Hatzar said: “Dolly & I have talked about Gemma's wedding dress for years even before she was with Chesney! I've always known I wanted it to light up but wanted something different from just the skirt lighting up as we've all seen that before. I knew it had to be something with the wow factor & Gemma was never going to go for a white dress. Orange just seemed to work for the character as Gemma is so vibrant & it also worked for Chesney & the family she's marrying into! 

“We had to storyline quite a lot of it to make it work as the character doesn't have any money so it was really helpful that Dolly & I had very early discussions, about 6 months prior to filming so we could liaise with editorial & they helped make it happen. I also requested that there were no stunts or spillages on the dress as I knew there wouldn't be the time or the budget for more than one dress for repeats or for a stunt double to wear.

“It was Dolly's idea to get Liquorice on board, she knew him from Drag Race UK & loved the costumes he'd made for that. I took one look at his Instagram page liquorice_originals & was sold, he was just what we were looking for! We met him originally in December & talked through ideas. I'd put together a mood board of what I was thinking & what I wanted to incorporate into the dress but I also needed to make him aware that it still needed to be practical as Dolly would be wearing it for 12 hours a day & it would be seen from all angles.”

Facts and figures:

  • The dress has 125 metres of tiny fairy lights on wire & the lights on the train are activated by a remote control!

  • There are approximately 10,000 stones all individually glued on by hand 

  • The dress took over 200 hours to make

  • The train is 7 metres long, Dolly wanted it even longer but we had to rein her in!

  • We had 2 skirts made, the one that you've all seen & another much shorter, smaller one that Dolly wore in the close up shots so her fellow cast members could actually get near her in the scenes 

  • Liquorice Black’s work can be seen here: liquourice_black

Full interview below with Liquorice Black.

How did you come to get involved in making this fabulous dress?

A mutual friend of mine and Dolly’s got in touch with me and said that someone from Corrie was wanting to talk to me about possibly making a wedding dress. Initially I turned it down as I wasn’t sure it was my sort of thing. I didn’t realise what sort of wedding dress they were looking for or that I would even be able to do it. Then Dolly got in touch directly and explained what it was and that she would love me to do it. I had a meeting with Dolly and the head of costume and the two of them completely convinced me that it would be a really fun project to do and they had faith that I could make their vision come to reality. So I accepted.

Did you know anything about the character of Gemma before you got involved?

No, I didn't know anything about the character so I set about watching clips on Youtube and reading up about her and I realised how much fun she is and what an outlandish dress sense she has and I knew it was going to be fun to help create this wedding dress.

How did the collaboration with Alex and Dolly work?

I asked them what they wanted and what their initial thoughts were on how they wanted the dress to look. Alex and Dolly showed me some images of more outlandish wedding dresses as jumping off points and made it clear they didn’t want it to be the traditional white dress. We kind of threw around some ideas and we all agreed that orange was the way to go. It is a bold colour and it will really stand out and it'll work for the character with Chesney obviously. 

Dolly wanted a really long train, and lights and flowers. Lots of collaborative ideas were thrown together. It wasn't a case of ‘could you make something?’ and then I just went away and did it, it was very much a team effort?

Did you also have to consider the practicalities of Dolly filming in the dress?

Absolutely, it is a dress she has to wear for a long time. There are actually two dresses. So there's a shorter and longer one to allow for close up filming. Myself and my sister Louise were there on the filming day. My initial intention was just to be on hand just to help out if they needed any help with moving the dress around and getting her into the dress because there are lots of complicated moving parts to it with the zips and buckles and underskirts. I was also on hand if there was any mishap so I could do any fixing in the spot, there was a needle and thread on hand if anyone accidentally stood on the dress. We had a really nice experience seeing stuff from behind the camera and how it's all made and how the costumes work in the spaces and for filming. 

Did you enjoy working with Dolly?

I did very much, Dolly really is a glorified drag queen. I think she's probably more of a drag queen than I am. She had as great an imagination as any other drag queens that I've worked with so it was a very similar process to be honest. She wanted everything in excess and sometimes I had to be the bearer of bad news and tell her she couldn’t have a fifteen metre long train or more fairy lights. I loved working with her. I think she is absolutely fabulous. 

How does the dress compare to costumes you have made for RuPaul’sDrag Race?Was there anything that was particularly tricky?

Definitely the scale of the dress because it's probably the biggest dress I've ever made. I had to keep on going back to the fabric stores to get more and more material as the dress was basically eating the material, I would sew some more underskirts then realise it needed to be bigger. There are hundreds of metres of tulle in the underskirt alone. There are also the details like all the lights that had to be fitted into it. My sister was assisting me and it took her seven days to sew in 125 metres of fairy lights. 

So was it just the two of you working on it then or did you have a whole team?

It's generally just me, but my sister comes in and she assists when I need some help. She sewed a lot of the rhinestones by hand and all the lights that are in the dress were all hand sewn in by my sister. Those things take time as they are so fiddly.

How will you feel seeing your creation on Coronation Street?

I am from Manchester so it has been such an honour to work on this dress and to be asked to be involved in the filming of a wedding on the show. Coronation Street is a UK institution and I am so grateful to be a small part of Corrie history. I can’t wait to see it on screen. 

Make sure you watch Gemma and Chesney's big day here ITVX

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