"The air is the expensive part," says Ori Livney, grinning from behind a pile of colorful rubber balloons. "But it's not as complicated as it sounds. I can make just about any regular dress out of balloons. The challenge is to make it a perfect custom fit."
Two years ago, after a six-month internship at Balloon Utopia in San Diego, Livney created his first balloon fashion dress for the annual Millennium Jam Balloon Convention in Belgium. Since then, his repertoire of stylish balloon dresses has greatly improved.
Last year Livney created a theme dress using the colors of the Israeli flag at a fashion event in Beijing. He was even able to twist in a row of small Stars of David that were suspended from the bottom half of the balloon skirt with un-inflated balloons, weighting the dress' bottom edge with water-filled balloons to add that extra spring.
In order to make sure the dress fits perfectly, Livney first measures the model and then builds the dress on a mannequin, inflating the balloons one at a time with a digital machine that allows him to control the size and length of each balloon with great precision.
Livney says the possibilities for balloon dresses are endless. If it's to make a big splash at an event, it could be flattering and elegant. If it's for a costume party, Livney says he can interweave fantastic creatures into the dress itself. As an example, he points to a picture of a fiery red balloon dress called 'The Dragon Within' that has a golden dragon head and tail woven into the background of the dress. The wild-looking dragon completely encircles the red dress, its ferocious head resting on the model's shoulder like a favorite pet snake.
"Wearing a balloon dress certainly makes a statement. When you walk into a room dressed entirely in balloons, people take a second look. It says a lot to wear such an unusual outfit." At a recent fashion event, Livney created a stunning white balloon dress with a delicate silver inlay fit for a bride.
"That specific dress was sexy and tight, which makes it very flattering on the body," Livney said.
But if you're thinking of a custom-fit balloon dress for your next bat mitzvah, prom or wedding, there is one more caveat. Although twisting long balloons into simple shapes can be done very quickly, Livney says it takes hours to make a dress -- especially if it involves complicated patterns -- and the air has to be fresh. Of course, there is always the danger of the balloons popping, too, although Livney says the dresses, if fitted properly, are extremely robust.
"You can sit down, but make sure it's on a soft cushion and not on a cactus." Non-smoking events are definitely safer.
"I'm available for private events anywhere in the world," Livney adds with another big smile. "My air is in great shape."
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