To people who write about fashion and otherwise view it from somewhat of a distance, the process of clothing design seems (at times) foreign and (always) fascinating. And the more intricate the creation, the more difficult it is to comprehend the process by which it came into being. After learning about the work of Toronto-based haute couture designer Mark Belford, I became fascinated by the art of couture—that special category of design in which the couturier custom makes every aspect of the clothing. Belford undertakes this methodical and painstaking work (all done by hand, sometimes to the tune of 300 hours per creation) in the name of bringing his stunning, fairytale-worthy gowns and dresses to life. While in Los Angeles preparing some designs for the Emmy awards, the designer reflected upon how and why he does what he does, exclusively for The Fashion Spot.
"Even in the most mundane, there is the opportunity to embrace the magic and beauty of life," he said. "I design for the most exceptional moments in a woman’s life, from a tailored suiting to a red carpet entrance. And my goal is for my piece to reflect my client's personality: to make her feel beautiful."
First privately commissioned by Giorgio Beverly Hills in 2000 to create ball gowns specifically for Hollywood's awards season, Belford subsequently had four looks show up on the red carpet that year worn by industry attendees. Since then, Belford has dressed everyone from Mulholland Drive actress Michele Hicks to So You Think You Can Dance? judge Mary Murphy, and has done costuming for CBS and FOX as well as working with jewelers Fred Leighton and Harry Winston. We asked him to create five sketches based on his top five muses—among them Angelina Jolie, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Charlize Theron—and to tell us a little bit about each design. Click through the gallery below to see the gorgeous designs and what (and who) inspired him to create them.