Pinning down the perfect dress for the Black & White Ball

Emily Brady stepped out of a dressing room at LaRoque, the Devine Street clothing boutique.

"Oh, Emily, yay," said AnnaBelle LaRoque, the shop's owner and designer.

The dress, a one-shoulder black stunner with a wrap of ostrich feathers, suggests a sultry mysteriousness.

In other words, it's perfect for a masquerade ball.

The Contemporaries of the Columbia Museum of Art will host the Black & White Ball Masquerade de Macabre at 8 tonight at the museum.

The masked-affair will meld the dress-up shenanigans associated with Halloween with the suaveness of an exclusive soiree.

The ball, which will feature live music, food and drinks, will support the Contemporaries Art Acquisition Fund, which includes the installation of a Dale Chihuly chandelier in the museum's atrium.

Masks, which can be purchased at the museum, are a must. So is a dress that will turn masked heads.

Brady, the event's chairwoman, was fitted for her custom dress one afternoon last week as an early-fall breeze swept through the boutique along with the thick chime of a crosswalk signal.

As LaRoque inserted pins on the torso of the dress, Brady held her arms out, not unlike a kangaroo.

"I definitely wanted feathers," said Brady of her collaboration with LaRoque.

"I wanted to make sure it was trendy and had texture," LaRoque added while working on the shoulder of the dress.

LaRoque has made pieces for Brady before, including five for events connected to Brady's wedding.

For the ball, Brady wanted to wear a one-of-a kind work of art to an art event.

"Emily was my first customer with a relationship," LaRoque said as she spun the ostrich feathers around the dresses' thigh-length fabric. The feather bands were up to Brady's waist.

"Whoa, this is so cute," LaRoque said.

At first, standing in front of the wall mirror, Brady wasn't so sure.

"Maybe we should stop it a little lower," she said.

A customer waiting to be fitted for a dress walked in.

"Are those the feathers I saw the other day when I came in?" she asked.

LaRoque said she couldn't wait to get them out of the box. And she implored Brady to keep the high layer of feathers.

Brady, as you can see in photos on the Weekend cover and these pages, agreed. The dress will be impossible to miss on the dance floor.

"You'll definitely be shaking a tail feather," LaRoque said.