Gucci Shell Gown- How is it Made? I’m Asking…

(An online search for “Yara Shahidi’s Gucci Gown” yielded some of these images.)

The photo of actress Yara Shahidi (of the TV show “black-ish”) caught my attention on a magazine page (InStyle).  She is a knockout and pulling off the attention grabbing Gucci gown beautifully.  It’s age appropriate for her tender years, and extremely tasteful.


The huge pleated shell shape is the immediate focus on this Gucci dress, and it’s what I’ll be obsessing about for a long time.

The thing is, as soon as I saw this image in InStyle magazine, something clicked; I knew I’d seen this shell-like thing before. But where?

Zandra Rhodes, circa 1981

I opened the right book, looked through it, and there it is.  It adorned Zandra Rhodes 1981 creation but in a different way. Maybe Issey Miyake archives may yield something similar.

There is a major difference between the Zandra Rhodes’ and Gucci’s detail, though. Can you spot it in the pictures?

Zandra Rhodes’ shell adorns each shoulder/armhole area of a black dress (complete dress not pictured; you’ll have to take my word for it) as an appendage.   It’s made with gold and silver pleated lame, the edges are finished with a zig-zag stitch and spiraled into a smallish “shell” at the center.  I think there may be wire under the zig-zag stitching to make it stand up.

Gucci went for a similar spiral with an Issey Miyake vibe. They’ve used a satiny fabric in pastel yellow. Here are the features I spotted in the Gucci detail:

  • The large arc of the “shell” folds over the shoulder to the back, creating the equivalent of a sleeve (?), and there may be a line of stitching at the fold to give a crisper edge.

yara-shahidi-gucci-dress-lacma-art-film-gala (3)

  • On the front, the inner shell seems to be a separate piece, and not really spiraled down into a tiny shell.
  • The small shell seems to be sewn down to the larger shell neatly, making it more  streamlined.


  • is there buckram inside the fanned out part?

I tried to find this dress on the Vogue Runway website in the Gucci collections, but couldn’t.  Maybe it was custom made for Yara Shahidi.

So …. I doodled a circular flounce shape in my notebook, and figured that once cut apart, the inner edges can be fan-pleated to create this effect.

Doodling Gucci.  

Can you figure out a formula or something for fan-pleating?  Or use the old trial-and-error method?  Let’s hear about how you would go about creating this detail.  For the prom dressmakers out there, wouldn’t you love to make this gown for a young person?

Have fun “fanning” this detail!


4 thoughts on “Gucci Shell Gown- How is it Made? I’m Asking…

  1. I think you’re onto it with the shell. There is a corset-like bodice in there, and the skirt is possibly a separate item.

    It is a beautiful dress on her. Sigh! Thanks for showing us this.


  2. You’re welcome 🙂 . I couldn’t not share this with my blog friends. I thought this would put us into our sewing engineer mode. The thing is, if I come up with something resembling this feature, how would I use it?


  3. A Beautiful Gown!
    I think the basic shape of the spiral is pretty simple- only one and 1/2 times around the circle’s pivot point.
    I think there’s the a small spiral that is seamed somewhere near the waist and then again above that- to get the growth into the large front (and back) piece. I love the marriage of the front and back to form the “sleeve” too. What gives this gown it’s WOW factor is the pleating and the gold lame fabric.
    I wonder how this would look cropped to tunic length?


    1. Ellen, thanks for your input! I immediately thought that the graduated spiral flounce information in your book would be a handy reference for trying my hand at this shell detail — page 41 — to start the process. The page was “sticker-ed” as soon as I saw it.

      Liked by 1 person

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