When Kay first moved in with her now husband, there was an unintentional gift waiting in the closet for her: His ex-wife’s wedding dress, hanging there awkwardly. Kay asked her new husband, “Does she want it back?” He said, “No.” She asked, “Should I take it to Goodwill?” He said that he would sell it on eBay. Time passed and Kay had almost forgotten that it hung in her closet, becoming a part of the closet landscape.
One girl’s night out filled with whiskey and laughter, Kay decide to show her dear friend Georgia the artifact that hung in her closet. Georgia remembers that moment well, “It was the catalyst for our project. When Kay showed me the dress, I didn’t know quite what to say or how to respond. I took a long pause to digest what I just saw, the soberness quickly evaporated and we erupted in spontaneous laughter: Hard, gut-wrenching laughter. We laughed at the horror of it, the complications of it, and all the feelings it evoked. We told stories of relationships and love and definitely divorce. After sometime Kay asked me do you want to put it on? It was the best horrible idea, I had to say, yes!”
From that moment on Kay and Georgia started to put all types of people in the dress, no matter the sexual orientation, religion, age, or race. Everybody was welcomed in The Divorce Dress. They initially began by photographing people in the dress and writing haikus about divorce, which quickly evolved into documenting each individual's story and interviewing them. Kay shares “Everybody's story is unique and at the same time incredibly similar. It takes real bravery to share your vulnerable side, for many it is a cathartic experience. We take it as a great compliment that people feel safe enough to open up and share themselves in a raw real way with us.”
Georgia and Kay acknowledge that divorce is a complicated, painful, and charged subject. I asked Kay if they ever get a negative reaction. Kay explains “There are times people get very angry with us and accuse us of promoting divorce. We are not promoting divorce. We are being real. Divorce happens and effects everybody in some way or another. We encourage people to say what is on their minds and not muffle that voice with the shallow, appropriate thing to say. We all have our own path to healing, sometimes that means letting your anger out by screaming at the top of your lungs profanities and insults, other times it means laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. The Divorce Dress’s mission is to de-stigmatize divorce and the taboos surrounding divorce through radical honesty.”
When asked if the original owner of the dress knows about the project, Kay and Georgia smile. “We both knew how important it was to tell her,” Kay said. “It took a while to muster up the bravery to have the conversation with her. I didn’t want her finding out about the project without me telling her first. When I spoke with her about the project she was very gracious and gave me her blessing,” Kay said, “ I have the utmost respect for her.”
With the success of the Divorce Dress project spreading, strangers started to reach out to them to get in the dress. The project has spiraled from there and turned into something with global reach. Georgia and Kay recently became featured writers for Celebrity attorney Laura Wasser’s website Its over easy, and continue to influence the relationship space with their unique take on divorce. In the fall of 2016 they decided to go to work on an art installation and a photography book filled with the divorce stories and haiku’s. In 2017 they launched their playful website showcasing the photos, haikus and blog. “We have been incredibly blessed and overwhelmed with the positive response. We always wanted to do something artistic and creative together. Now after 20 years of friendship we can!”
Kay and Georgia will continue traveling the globe in 2018 with the dress exploring different cultures to finish The Divorce Dress for release in 2019. For those who are interested in participating you can visit their website and submit a request to be in the Divorce Dress. www.thedivorcedress.com