News / Vancouver

A novel idea: Vancouver woman's thesaurus dress turns heads

Here's one for the books: A Vancouver woman has garnered international attention for transforming the folds of a book into the folds of a dress.

Actress Jori Phillips spent months stripping pages from a second-hand thesaurus and carefully forming their yellowing edges into the layers of a skirt and bodice. After posting photos of herself wearing the strapless, paper frock and a "Miss Spelled" sash on Friday, she woke up Saturday morning to a firestorm of media requests.

Reporters from Mashable, the Daily Mail UK and Good Morning America online all wanted to speak with the designer of the novel costume, which had garnered more than 88,000 views on Imgur, a photo-sharing site, and more than 2,100 “upvotes” on the user-generated news site Reddit.

"It's kind of crazy," says Phillips.

However, not all the attention has been of critical acclaim.

Many Reddit users slammed Phillips' delicate creation as a wasteful use of book, while others attacked the aesthetic appeal of an outfit made almost entirely of paper.

But Phillips doesn't mind the haters.

"Reddit encourages negative discussion a lot," she says. "That's just made more people look at it."

Among the viewers was R L Stein, author of the Goosebumps series, who, to Phillips' delight, Tweeted a photo of the unusual smock.

"That made my life pretty much complete at that moment," she said.

Despite the media blitz, Phillips didn't design the accouterments as an attention-getting measure -- she made it for work.

Two years ago, a committee member for the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival asked Phillips, who grew up on the island, if she would develop a “bookworm” character to greet visitors during the four-day event.

“I got it in my head that it would be awesome if there was this dress made all out of paper,” said Phillips, herself a bookworm, about her idea for the character.

Thrilled at the prospect of designing a novel costume, Phillips scoured thrift stores for the perfect thesaurus for the job.

Phillips says she doesn't know exactly how many hours she spent on the pinafore, but she burned through two full seasons her favourite television show, How I Met Your Mother, as she glued sections A through O into wearable art.

The creative ensemble is currently sitting in a box, but Phillips says she has received calls from members of Vancouver's arts community looking to feature it in plays and art shows, and she is mulling over the idea of crafting more works from paper.

For now, she is hoping the media attention surrounding her unique talents will draw the attention of an agent.

“Hopefully this can show that not everybody out there is like me,” she says.

For more information about Phillips, visit her facebook fan page, facebook.com/jorimlphillips.