Sarah Deiseroth, 17, of Fox Chapel was bored by the full-bottomed, strapless ball gowns common to cotillions.
"I didn't really find anything that caught my eye," she said about shopping for a formal white dress to wear to the annual charity Cinderella Ball, held Saturday night at the Omni William Penn, Downtown. "I didn't want something that I knew a lot of girls would be wearing."
The Shady Side Academy senior decided to design her own, with some help from Kenneth Chu, costume shop manager at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama.
Sarah has a natural knack for design, said Mr. Chu, who met her when she interned at the costume shop several summers ago. "It's really refreshing, especially for someone of her age. She has such a sophisticated aesthetic."
She gave him photos of silhouettes and dress styles that appealed to her. "We talked about what she liked and what she didn't like," Mr. Chu said. "She essentially designed [the dress] herself."
Next he created a mock-up from cotton materials and ordered fabric swatches from some of his sources in New York for Sarah to choose from.
"I went with something unique," she said.
The finished product: a pristine white halter-style gown with low-cut back and oversized accent bow.
"I think it's a much more sophisticated dress than I ever would have imagined for a debutante ball," Mr. Chu said.
For more from PG fashion writer Sara Bauknecht, check out the PG's Stylebook blog at www.post-gazette.com/stylebook. Follow her on Twitter @SaraB_PG.