The Queen of Gowns

Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with a mom who was a seamstress, Ossining eveningwear designer Constance McCardle started sewing at an early age, making clothing for her dolls and a dress for herself (a 4-H Club project) when she was eight. Her work has since ventured far beyond the county fair. Her ultra-glam gowns have been worn to meet the Queen of England, at White House balls and state dinners, and on the red carpets of major awards shows.

Today, the designer—who designed antique lace blouses for Henri Bendel and worked with Italian designer Raffaella Curiel—and three seamstresses turn out exquisitely crafted cocktail-, tea-, and floor-length special-occasion dresses from her home studio in Ossining, including a special collection offered exclusively at Elephant’s Trunk in Mount Kisco. “My gowns show the body well,” she says.

Her gowns feature fine European fabrics, some vintage, and including jacquard or devoré—in which a pattern is burned out—charmeuse or silk chiffon, embroidery, metallic lamé, etc. Designs sport such embellishments as beaded appliqués, feathers, sequins, and even chain links from old gold necklaces. To match one client’s casino-themed soirée, McCardle fashioned fringe from actual playing cards.

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The designer’s Elephant’s Trunk collection is priced from $1,000 to $5,600; custom designs start at $2,800 and require a three-month lead time. Next up for the designer is a line of wedding dresses featuring high-end European laces and hand-sewn embellishments ($3,500-plus). For more information: constancemccardle.com.

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