At last weekend’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden reopening party, businesswoman and arts enthusiast Nina Hale came strutting through the festivities in a magnificent rooster dress. Heads turned thanks to its eye-popping colors and sexy tail feathers.
A member of the Walker Art Center’s board of trustees, Hale created the dress in honor of the garden’s highly anticipated new “Hahn/Cock” sculpture. And believe it or not, she wasn’t the only woman sporting a homemade dress inspired by the big blue rooster that day. Former Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher showed up wearing a relaxed number made from custom-printed rooster fabric. These casual acquaintances didn’t coordinate their outfits in advance, although they did pause for photos in the highly Instagrammable new garden. Hashtag? #cockfrocks.
Hale’s dress was voluminous yet structured, striking the more dramatic silhouette. She recently completed the 1950s-style ensemble (incorporating 25 pieces of fabric) for a course in bridal and formalwear at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where she is enrolled in the apparel design program.
“I never sewed any clothes before in my life,” said Hale, who stopped by the Star Tribune studios to model her creation.
She previously tried to sew a dress for the Walker’s annual Avant Garden fundraiser but that didn’t go so well. The teacher deemed it “a valiant effort.” Hale proclaimed the rooster dress her first successful garment.
The dress is made with three layers: an outer layer of silk with inner layers of silk organza and viscose. Finishing touches include bona fide rooster feathers (dyed professionally) and sleeves lined with soft blue silk. The key accessory is a blue clutch that Hale embellished with naturally shed macaw feathers.
Hale launched an eponymous digital-marketing agency in 2005, selling it to employees in 2014. Now friends and colleagues wonder whether there’s another startup — perhaps a fashion venture? — up her silky sleeves.
“People have asked me, ‘Will you start another business?’ ” Hale said. No, she assures them.
“I just want to make statement dresses for Walker openings.”