Irish dancing is very special to me and I’ve been dedicated to it since 2010 when I signed up for my first lessons. I’ve progressed further than I would have ever thought especially since I started so late in life. A background in ballet gave me a good foundation since a lot of the positions and steps are the same just named differently.
Irish dancing has always grabbed my attention mainly because of the lively and uplifting music, the flying leaps and sound of the hard shoes also can’t be beat. But there is one thing that has always wowed me and that is the glitzy solo dresses. I always thought it would be incredible to be that dancer in the sparkly dress. This was now my goal and it didn’t take long before I bought a second hand solo dress online. It didn’t fit so my mom magically altered it for me and I got a few good years of dancing from it. The only problem was it never really felt like mine. It didn’t tell my story and it never fit perfectly since it wasn’t designed for me in the first place.
Dress and photos by Craggane Designs.
This past October my Mom surprised me with the opportunity to design my very own solo dress from the designer of my choice! OMG! I really didn’t believe it at first and I knew it wouldn’t feel real until I held the dress in my hands. This was a dream I never thought would be possible but there we were putting together Pinterest boards and scoping out all of the latest Irish dance dress trends. It was really happening and I started to get sketches from the designer and several emails to determine material and colours. The process took over 4 months but well worth it! It was quite a journey and I wanted my dress to reflect my journey. When putting together my questionnaire and really thinking about the type of designs I wanted I chose a forest theme. Nature is my main inspiration and my dress includes many symbols from the forest. They may just look like acorns and leaves but they have reason to be on my dress and not just because I think they look pretty.
One other design that makes my dress unique is on the back I wanted something to symbolize wings. I made it very clear I didn’t literally want fairy wings on my back but some type of design that was in the shape of wings. I didn’t know how the designer would interpret that but she came through with the most magical idea ever! She made my “wings” out of antlers with vines and leaves intertwined around them. Incredible! Another symbol of the forest and it perfectly fit with my theme.
After researching the symbols that would represent my style and personality I compiled a list of their meanings. Here are the symbols that can be found on my dress and tell my story.
The acorn is a symbol of strength and power. They only appear on fully mature oaks and are often considered a symbol of the patience needed to attain goals over long periods of time. It represents perseverance and hard work.
The acorn is the symbol I feel the most strongly about because if it weren’t for patience and hard work I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Rulers often wore crowns of oak leaves, as a symbol of their connection to the divine. The oak leaf is still used as a symbol of leadership in the military today.
When I think of the forest I immediately have visions of grand oak trees and their golden leaves in autumn. The oak tree fills me with memories of my backyard and our forest trail that my family would enjoy behind our home.
Tree of Life
Rooted in the heart of the earth, it drinks the sacred waters of life and stretches its branches into the heavens, providing a bridge between celestial and earthly powers. Each Celt tribe had a sacred tree as its focal point, a symbol of sovereignty, sacred wisdom, and spiritual energy.
This is a Celtic symbol that I’ve always loved. It’s connection to the spiritual world defines my love for the magic of nature and life itself.
The majestic stag is an important solar animal of the Celts. Every year its antlers are shed and regenerated representing the tree of life. Spiritual regeneration, abundance, and prosperity. As a divine messenger, its antlers are seen as a receptacle for celestial energies.
I wanted some type of creature to symbolize that there is more to the forest than just trees. The antlers perfectly represent my ancestors who also share a love of nature and wildlife.
Thor found shelter from a violent storm by sitting under a mighty oak tree. Some Nordic countries still believe that acorns on their windowsill will protect their house from being hit by lightning. In Great Britain, young ladies would wear an acorn necklace as a talisman against premature aging.
Having Scandinavian heritage I wanted to include something that would honor that part of me. It might be a small part but I’ve always felt very Swedish. Looking into Nordic legends I found that the acorn was also a strong symbol. The little gold clasp on the front of the bodice is also a nod to my Swedish ancestry.
The trinity knot has a wide array of interpretations and there is no one meaning set in stone. All meanings have one thing in common that it is the culmination of three parts.
I love the simple and elegant design of the trinity knot. The three points represent the past, present and future to me. It’s also very similar to my dance school logo which I’m so very fortunate to be welcomed into.
The fern contains the deep wisdom of Mother Earth. It represents transformation, renewal and hope for the future.
The spiraling ferns on the bodice symbolize my growth and how I’ve promised to not fear change. Life is tough but all we can do is keep moving forward and grow.
Thank you to my Mom for an incredible meaningful gift that I will cherish forever.