East Texas residents and visitors experienced a journey through the Far East during Friday's Texas Rose Festival coronation. The story, narrated by Mark and Molly Johnson, relived explorer Marco Polo's voyage through India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia.
“The romance of the Orient,” as the narrators described, was marked by sparkling jewels, bold, rich colors and embellished headdresses and other pieces.
Each duchess and lady-in-waiting adorned a costume that was fitting for distinct images of various Asian cultures.
There were less swooping gowns this year and more pantsuits accompanied by ornamented capes and flowing pieces.
The Apache Belles provided the entertainment, with sets in between each regional storyline, which included a Bollywood-style number and a depiction of Japan's hip-hop dancing. Dragons, kung fu fighting and a fan dance were among the imagery of the show.
Jamie Moore, of Lexington, Miss., attended the coronation for the first time. Her daughter was involved with the production.
“It was phenomenal,” she said. “I have been to Mardi Gras balls, and this far exceeds anything I've ever seen.”
Baylor University students Claire Allen, Ashlee Winters and Maggie Purczinsky were impressed by the performance as well. The three women are classmates of the 2012 Duchess of the Texas Rose Festival Joy Lynn Ramey.
“It was breath-taking. It gave us chills; we didn't know what to expect but we're impressed,” Miss Winters and Miss Purczinsky said, respectively.
“We knew she'd been working so hard,” Miss Allen added.
Miss Ramey, portraying Madame Butterfly, graced a blue and turquoise kimono-style costume, which featured butterflies and roses.
A GOWN TELLS THE STORY
Rose Festival president Tim Alexander opened the doors to a Chinese pagoda, unveiling Rose Queen Haley McGrede Anderson, who stood with a richly colored gown adorned with hundreds of thousands of beads.
It took six months for designers Winn Morton, John Ahrens and his team from the Dallas-based Customworks to construct the ensemble.
The crew, plus 16 artisans used 30 yards of red silk brocade, 28 yards of fuchsia silk, 100 yards of gold braid, 15 yards of gold lamé and more than 450,000 beads, stones, jewels, sequins and embellishments in the making of Queen Haley's ensemble.
The dress details exotic mysteries and lush images of the Far East. The edges of the overskirt are appliquéd with gold scrolls embroidered with large aurora stones. The side panels display two large hand-embroidered Chinese cranes. The entire skirt is edged with gold braid and beaded fringe. The delicate sleeves of gold-embroidered French lace enhance the gown and silhouette. French lace, embroidery and sumptuous appliqué, the gown is embellished with 150,000 hand applied stones, jewels, sequins and beads.
The gown also features an off-the-shoulder bodice, long, hooped skirt and paneled overskirt; the gown began with red and fuchsia silk brocade. The overskirt of Chinese red brocade displays a trail of pink roses in tribute to the Texas Rose Festival and Tyler's heritage.
Terry Brantley constructed the 16-foot-long, seven-foot-wide train on a foundation of fuchsia silk and red silk brocade at her San Antonio workshop.
A pagoda, the iconic and historic architecture of China, frames Queen Haley's monogram. More than 300,000 stones, beads, sequins and jewels adorn the regal train of the Empress of China.
The crown and scepter, designed by Morton, is made of 14-karat gold and covered with more than 40,000 jewels by Tom Newbury and Tom Sanden of Art and Commerce in Dallas. The crown features hand-created jeweled flowers, reminiscent of those of Chinese empresses. The scepter has a 3-D jeweled dragon that winds its way to the top of the piece.