1 million beads, 20,000 hours, 7 miles of wire – and one wedding dress

Publish date:
Updated on

A designer from Edina has wowed the fashion world after unveiling a masterpiece wedding dress she made using almost one million beads.

This week on her website, Gail Be gave the world its first glimpse of her three-year labor of love, Fantasy, a wedding dress weighing in at more than 380 pounds and featuring a 20.5-foot long train.

The 57-year-old, who shuns the notion of working with fabric, has seen her bead creations attract the attention of Lady Gaga, who wore a headdress and matching top created by Be on the cover of her and Tony Bennett's recent single Anything Goes, according to the Mail Online.

This embed is invalid

But Fantasy is set to have a much more lasting impact, with her use of 995,000 beads - including 500,000 glass pearls and 400,000 crystals - held together by seven miles of wire, almost certain to land her in the Guinness Book of World Records.

"I thought, I'm going to build the biggest wedding dress in the world," she told the Mail Online. "Didn't know what the stats were, didn't know how to do it, but knew that I was going to be doing the big one."

Work on the dress hasn't even finished yet, despite 22 seamstresses working on its over a 20,000-hour period in the last three years. Gail predicts the finished product should be ready next month.

The Star Tribune reports that Be, who works out of a warehouse in Edina, started beading almost 30 years ago following a class at an American Indian memorabilia store in Minneapolis, and won a blue ribbon for her beading the following year at the Minnesota State Fair.

And her story is all the more remarkable because she was declared legally blind in the early 1990s because of a degenerative eye disease, the newspaper says, and she turned her hand from bead weaving to bead collecting.

Thanks to a corneal transplant and Lasik surgery, her vision was restored and she resumed beading once more, creating more than 30 dresses so far.

Her masterpiece contains beads that Be herself has collected from all over the world and is funded entirely by Be herself - though she hasn't got an inkling how much it costs.

She hasn't sold a single one - the headdress and top was loaned to Lady Gaga. But now that she's finally unveiled Fantasy, ABC News reports she has taken on an agent to connect her with movie studios and executives in Los Angeles.

Although models have tried the dress for publicity shots, at almost 400 pounds it is too heavy to wear. But Be told the Mail Online she'd like to see it on film or in a museum.

“I want to work with people that have a limitless mind of what they want to do,” Be told ABC. “I want to be pressed to the depth of my creativity and I don’t think I can do that anywhere but movies."

With almost one million beads, the dress dwarfs the current Guinness World Record for “Most Crystals on a Wedding Dress," the Star Tribune notes. That dress has 45,024 beads, and was sewn in Turkey in five days in 2011.

Next Up