Secret Garden Paper Dress Costume — Fine Art Photography

Tis the season for costume donning. Last year this time in a casual conversation about costume ideas with Rebekah Ritchie Adams I saw her eyes widen with the mention of two words "paper dress". It was decided. We would start constructing her a paper dress (inspired by my own Paper Princess Bride costume from thee years ago. You can check that out here). To start things off Rebekah chose the novel "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett for her inspiration and materials and the next thing we knew we were in a cloud of carefully folded and fanned paper, clear wire, metal fasteners, exacto blades and lots and lots of tape. But the thing that we quickly realized is that each of our "perfectionism" tendencies in crafting meant… an unfinished product come dress-up time. Fast forward one year later, sit us back down in that cloud of paper and voila the dress is finished, and just in time for dressing-up (plus a photo shoot) this year… just barely. 

The dress is an artful construction and representation of the story of "The Secret Garden" and gives new life to the printed pages of an enchanting story. Using pages from that novel and other vintage gardening and botanical books the dress came together piece by folded paper piece to create a wearable work of art, complete with a hidden door tucked between the pages and a skeleton key draped around the neck.

The story of The Secret Garden while enchanting certainly has a bit of a dark feel to it so we decided to style a photographic session around this dark, magical whimsey allowing the story to unfold along the way. We ventured to an abandoned home with a wildly overgrown garden entryway and crept our way through branches and barren thorny rose bushes. Then just past sunset we explored a small forest green and overrun by gorgeous vines. Here is where the story blooms. The results were breathtaking, I'd say.


“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.” ― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden



Photography: Caroline Maxcy Photography
Hair and Make-up: Michelle Trinder Cathey
Model: Rebekah Ritchie Adams
Paper Dress Design and Construction: Caroline Maxcy and Rebekah Ritchie Adams
Jewelry Design: Rebekah Ritchie Adams (Bekah's Heart)
Flowers: Publix Super Market


“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one's head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one's heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun--which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone's eyes.” ― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden