We’ve all experienced it before: You fall in love with a designer dress that doesn’t come in your size. Or, maybe it fits your waist but won’t zip over your chest, or vice versa. And, while we don't mind a trip to the tailor, we'd rather not hand over another wad of cash for tailoring after dropping serious dough on a brand-new frock.
Enter the PIOL Dress. Thanks to a combination of old-school inspiration (here’s looking at you, Edith Head!) and newfangled innovation, you can now purchase a custom-made dress that promises to be your “perfect go-to dress.”
That's quite the bold claim, but PIOL takes practically everything into account before constructing your ideal match. When you go to its site, you choose your hair, eye, and skin color (this is in order to pick the perfect hue and pattern that's unique to you), and then you can customize the style you prefer, including adjusting the neckline, sleeve length, skirt type, and more. And, the best part is they offer a size range unheard of from typical designer brands: size 0 through 22.
And, to learn even more about this revolutionary system, we spoke with PIOL’s CEO, Anne Dayton.
What was your inspiration behind creating the PIOL dress?
"For most of my life, I was able to buy clothes easily off the rack. As I became older and no longer the same figure, it was frustrating not to find clothes that were becoming to me. I then came across the reprint of Edith Head’s book How To Dress For Success, which I bought on a lark and immediately recognized that she had an amazing approach to dressing. I was a painter at the, time and realized that she used color and style in the same way as an artist or film director. Determine where you want the eye to focus, and simplify the rest — it is the basis of most great paintings. However, once I got her system, the ability to find that perfect dress was virtually impossible. Hence, PIOL Dress."
What is the meaning behind the name PIOL?
"PIOL is such a revolutionary system. There is literally nothing else like it in the fashion industry. I wanted the name to be completely new, too. In the Internet, there is also the trend of using a word that isn’t a word that will become a word — like Google when it first began. So, I decided to create a word that was also visually strong as a dress label. It is actually a metaphor for our business: the idea of creating something totally new and introducing it to the world."
How can you be certain that the colors and prints you’ve chosen will actually be complementary to the person’s hair/eyes/skin tone?
"My background is in art, and color is my first love. Color theory recognizes that color depends on the colors around it for its poignancy and power. A color is either more vibrant or more muted depending on the colors that surround it. When you study Edith Head’s color charts, you realize she is using color theory for her palettes. She took what artists know about color relationships and used it to enhance the beauty of her Hollywood actresses. She created 34 different color palettes, all of which are amazingly accurate. It is very exciting to offer our customer the magic that color inherently has when it is put next to other complementary colors."
While many high-end designers stop their sizing at a 10 or 12, you offer up to a 22. What was your reasoning behind offering a larger size range?
"We love the idea that we can offer beautiful, quality dresses to a wide variety of women. As a costume designer, Edith Head dressed all kinds of women and felt that all women could feel confident and attractive in the right clothes. She was very inspirational in this way. Rather than dressing for your body type — and no woman likes her body type — look in the mirror and decide what you like most about your figure. Highlight this area, and simply camouflage the rest. It is a very creative and positive way to think about your figure and one that gives you an immediate sense of confidence. Obviously, our make-to-measure ability allows us to offer this approach to women of all sizes. It is very, very exciting."
I fear that many women may balk at the higher price points; how did you come up with it?
"We realize our dresses are expensive, but the price represents the incredible quality of each dress. Each dress is hand-cut and sewn to [the woman's] specifications in New York City. Our fabrics are beautiful — all from top mills in Italy, France, and Japan. Unlike an inexpensive dress that she will wear once or twice and throw away next season, our dress will last her for years. It really will be her perfect go-to dress. So, while our dress is initially more expensive, we think we are the antidote to the flash sales, impulse shopping, and cheap quality that in the end cost her twice as much."
Do you have any plans to create separates using this method?
"We truly believe that the reason women wear so many separates is because it is so difficult for them to find a dress that fits both top and bottom. Most women are a different size on top than they are on the bottom. PIOL is the only system by which she can have a dress that will fit her in all places. In addition, she can choose a neckline and skirt that will address these different proportions. So, rather than add separates, our goal is to make dresses a more prominent part of her wardrobe, because there is no better feeling than wearing the perfect dress!"