Vineyard fashion designer Chrysal Parrot recalled precisely the moment she saw her dress on stage at the Emmy Awards on Sunday night.
“I broke my toe, stumbling clumsily. My daughter yelled from the other room — she’s on, mom, come on she’s on,” said Ms. Parrot, who was still hobbling around her studio this week.
But the memory was fresh. There among dresses by Marchesa and Johanna Johnson was Ms. Parrot’s dress, being worn by Dahvi Waller, a writer and producer for Mad Men.
“It was very exciting for me, except for the fact that I was in excruciating pain,” she said.
Ms. Parrot’s designs will appear at a fashion show on Saturday night, one of a number of Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week events, which will include looks from designers Karen Russillo, Marlene DiStefano, Randi Sylvia and Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School graduates Rose Maidoff and Chelsea Phaneuff.
Ms. Parrot began making her own clothing at age 12, when she stood 5 feet, 9 inches and weighed 100 pounds. Nothing off the rack fit her; clothes were either too big or too short.
“Sometimes you start something when you’re a kid and it just gets you and that’s what it really did for me,” she said. “I was much more likely to be up in my room on a Saturday night sewing than out with friends, it was a passion for my whole life.”
She did not pursue clothing design as a career until much later — in college at the University of Massachusetts she had a double major in French and Italian and after college went to work as a translator. But she had visited the Vineyard during her college years, and in 1999 she moved to the Island full-time, seven months pregnant with her first child.
And when her daughter was born, she returned to sewing.
“Sewing became something I could fall back on to do at home with the baby,” she said. “It just all came from there. The necessity forced me to take a second look at this skill set and use it.”
In July Ms. Parrot opened her shop Demi Monde on State Road in Vineyard Haven. The studio feels a bit like a private show of her collection. Spools of vibrant fabrics are tucked beneath eclectic designs; the room is furnished with French velvet couches; design books are scattered about.
“It has been more surprisingly successful than I could possibly imagine,” she said of the shop her husband, P.J., designed. “We were visible for the month of August and it has been tremendously successful; I’ve ended up with tremendous opportunities.”
Ms. Parrot designed the dress Ms. Waller wore to the Emmys when she was on the Island for a writer’s retreat in August.
“She decided she was going to find her dress on-Island, and try and find a small designer on the Island because she wanted something different than anything else someone in Los Angeles would have — and she got it,” Ms. Parrot said. “I made it work for her.”
Ms. Waller wore a black fitted dress that accentuated the bustier top, and A-line skirt, a classic Parrot design.
“I have always loved historical clothing . . . I’m talking specifically about Victorian, Edwardian, Regency, the 19th century and early 20th century,” she said. “It’s a combination of that period of time but also into the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.”
“It’s very interesting, the Mad Men era that Dahvi writes for is right up my alley. I mean look at what I have on right now,” she said lifting up her halter dress and revealing pantalettes. “It’s all a fusion.”
Her father was a hand bookbinder trained in Switzerland. She said she learned the discipline of honing a lost art from him.
“He does things exactly, perfectly, traditionally, as they are supposed to be done and I look at that and I go wild with it,” she said. “I take these traditional bits and such and do a fusion with anything else I can find.”
This weekend she will be showing a little bit of everything — a long blue organza dress with full train, several 1950s-style dresses with organza overlays, outfits with sailor pant slacks, and a red and orange plaid suit. She dug the suit out of a work bin and laid out the arms, back, skirt, still to be stitched together but impeccably sewn. She said it took her 12 hours to match the plaid patterns.
Meanwhile, she watched all four seasons of Mad Men on her computer between the time she received the commission for the dress until Sunday’s award show. She’s especially fond of costume dramas like Dangerous Beauty or Bleak House, but she also enjoys My Name Is Earl.
“The difference between couture and everything else is this sort of detail, it’s a combination of how you cut and sew it,” she said, pointing to the way the patterns matched exactly at the seam. “When it’s truly done right the patterns match perfectly.”
Saturday’s show is the culmination of the fashion week festivities, all fund-raising events for Angel Flight Northeast.
On Wednesday night at the Sand Bar and Grill in Oak Bluffs fall looks were shown from the Green Room, Citrine, B*TRU, Vineyard Vines, Karen Russillo, Ashley Chase of Ulu Swimwear and Noava Knight.
Feathers in hair, plaid dresses and tall boots took center stage as models walked the boardwalk.
“There’s a lot of beauty in the house, and even more beauty backstage,” fashion week organizer Richard Skidmore announced before the show. “You’re in the beauty spot of Martha’s Vineyard.”
The Designer’s Collection is Saturday at Dreamland above the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company in Oak Bluffs. Doors open at 7 p.m. the show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $30 for premium seating and are available at ticketsmv.com.