Yvette’s Bridal Formal (YBF) has often been heralded as the strangest website to ever be created. While there are certainly many contenders for this sought-after title, it’s not difficult to see why Yvette’s has been regarded so highly within this genre of website creation.
Upon inspecting the site, one will immediately notice that it is unlike any other. There are no professionally designed graphics, an organized array of content, or aesthetically pleasing animations. Instead, we are greeted with a chaotic mash of colours, low-resolution images, and a copious number of links.
Before telling you that this website was intended to act as a platform for a bridal store in downtown Panama City, Florida, you might have struggled to guess it… Well, at least upon your initial look.
However, once the viewer’s eyes have settled from the onslaught of blaring pinks and random images (which include a rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermin to Japanese text that has been sketched over in MS Paint), they will begin to notice that many of the links and photographs contained on Yvette’s front-page are indeed related to bridal gowns, formal attire, tuxedos, and an assortment of other apparel.
Yet, unlike the standardized and corporate websites which we have become so accustomed too, YBF provides a deep cavern of varied content for us to explore. From short stories, to extra-terrestrial encounters, and even, of all things, a recipe for apple pie – the list is almost endless! The website becomes an interactive experience in which the user jumps from link-to-link, in the style of a point-and-click game, to find new rooms and uncover hidden items.
Although, YBF is certainly sporadic in its design and uncoordinated in regard to the subject matter it explores, there remains a common theme throughout the site that manages to hold all of this wackiness together – art.
While the styles, mediums, genres, and form of its artistic content vary wildly from page-to-page, Yvette’s remains, at its heart, an artistic endeavour. From a digital gallery, a series of pages dedicated to the photography of boats, to a collection of paintings made by the creator of the site, the artwork takes the centre stage.
Music too is an important element throughout the site. The user is provided with a variety of different ambient sounds, classical scores, and songs that change depending on the page you are viewing.
Want to check out Yvette’s range of tuxedos… Well, you have the pleasure of listening to Total Ground Control, described by its creators as an: ‘electronica number with combination of ambient, drumNbass, new-age, dreamy telephony bleeps, a little bit of breakbeats, and computerized vocals to add punch to the electronic feeling.’ Now, if this doesn’t offer an appropriate tone for your shopping experience, then I don’t know what does!
However, if this isn’t to your liking, then just head over to Yvette’s collection ofplus-size dresses, upon which you can hear the delightful sounds of Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in G Minor – a classier number, much better suited to the ladies than the head-banging, ecstasy ridden tune of the previous page.
Once you’ve picked out something you like, you can head over to the map to find out where Yvette’s is located. However, if you expected an integrated google map, with clear directions, then think again… For like the rest of the site, the map is just as confusing and maze-like in its design. Like a treasure map, you will have to put in some work to figure out where you should exactly be headed; but don’t fret, as a written address has been provided for those that may struggle with cartography.
While at first many might shy away from the ‘unsightly’ and ‘poorly managed’ design of Yvette’s, one cannot help but come back for more. Masochistically, you will find yourself driven to venture deeper and deeper into this labyrinth of art, music, conspiracy theories, and of course, bridal dresses, so that you can finally uncover what its all about.
Wishing to learn more myself, I decided to get in contact with the creator of Yvette’s Bridal Formal, Sean Terrance Best, so that I could understand how the website started, the purpose behind its design and what Sean has been getting up to since creating the site.
Since creating the Yvette’s in 2007, Sean has been working as an artist and writer. Alongside his vast collection of paintings and drawings (which you can find on his website), he has created a series of novels, which include: Swamp Lore Campfire Legends, Bloodstone and Broomcorn: Curse of the W.I.T.C.H, Cloak of the Devil, and The Secret Hope.
Sean was incredibly generous with his time and provided us with nearly 20,000 words discussing his past, artistic practice, and Yvette’s Bridal Formal in great detail. For the purposes of making this interview managable for our readers, certain responses have been edited – these have been indicated for the sake of transparency.
An Interview With Sean Terrance Best
Q: I discovered your creation of Yvette’s Bridal Formal after watching Atrocity Guide’s short documentary on YouTube. While it provided a fantastic insight into your work, I was left wanting more answers as to how this unique website came to be. Could you detail how you came to design the site, its chronology, and the response you received from its owners?
A: The story about Yvette’s is that my mother started a bridal salon on Mainstreet (Harrison Avenue) in downtown Panama City, Florida all the way back in 1980. Initially the name of the business was Formal Occasions, yet my mother and the other women who was involved in the entrepreneurial endeavour decided that they wanted a name which would radiate a fashionable salon boutique aura. It happened that my younger sister was a part of the fashion enterprise at that time – her middle name is Yvette, so it was estimated that the Parisian connotation of the name Yvette would make it the perfect name for a salon. This is how Yvette’s was established way back in the venerable year of 1980.
With the advent of the internet, the idea for an online presence for Yvette’s naturally emerged. I was somewhat computer literate at the time so the suggestion was made that I should create a site for Yvette’s. I possessed a fundamental programming knowledge of HTML, Java, C++, BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, and Pascal, but what made site development easy for me was Yahoo Webhosting because this application provided a graphic user interface to easily select backgrounds, upload photos/video, position text on pages, and toss in hyperlinks in any style or location one chooses. I have never been a conformist so I didn’t care about the so-called professional appearance or what the internet status quo might assert is the “only” way to build and maintain a site. I sort of went at it willy-nilly with my own homegrown grassroots flare showcasing the art I created, along with my literary compositions, and of course fine haute couture high fashions and voila! YvettesBridalFormal was born!
The response from the owners was at first one of shock and dismay, yet when the bridal salon filled with people buying gowns and renting tuxedos saying they had come to Yvette’s because of the website, this shock and dismay swiftly morphed into thrilled appreciation! The profits were rolling in, so the owners didn’t care what I did with the site, so long as I maintained a high sales volume!
S: The site appears to achieve three key elements, in which it acts as: (1) a tool to promote Yvette’s Bridal Formal, (2) a rich tapestry for your artistic/written work, and (3) as an interactive hub whereby users are able to explore and become immersed in a strange world.
A: You are correct in every particular, kind sir. It is a pleasure to witness your keen skills of observation and perception in action! Engaging visitors to Yvette’s Bridal Formal is a key element to both immediate and long-term success!
Q: Was this [the above statement] your original intention or something which developed gradually?
A: Yvettes Bridal Formal in its current configuration was not my original intention for the very simple reason that when I began creating the site that I had no idea what I was doing. I had no definite goal in mind, only the vague notion that I wanted to help Yvette’s cash in big-time from the sale of gowns, jewellery, invitations, bridesmaids’ dresses, prom gowns, quinceañera gowns, high fashion designer footwear, renting tuxedos, as well as profiting from the sale of fine art drawings and paintings.
To achieve this aim I moved forward by endowing the site with a theatrical carnival style atmosphere of celebration and fun, sort of like a world’s fair for fine bridal fashions.
P. T. Barnum held three main tenants or precepts in high esteem, these are:
- The noblest art is that of making others happy.
- No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.
- Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the public.
These wise words of the great 19th century ruddy-faced impresario would help define my own developing socioeconomic theories and styles as I jumped off headfirst into the daunting abyss of artistic creation of websites, namely Yvette’s Bridal Formal.
Q: Do you believe that website design has become too standardized and corporatized? Is there any room left to explore the space of artistic web-design and if so, how should we be thinking about websites moving forward?
A: Yes, by far website design has become distressingly standardized and dominated by corporate overshadowing. In spite of this dismal reality, however, there’s really much more room now than ever before, in which emerging technologies, mobile apps, advances in graphic user interfaces, etc. can all be used to expand and diversify website design. There are virtually no boundaries on site creation in the twenty-first century!
The secret to creating a truly original exciting website is to be yourself. Each person has the great power and privilege to help shape and evolve a fascinating new cyber space which shall give birth to its very own language and culture and shall in turn fuel and feed an exponentially expanding virtual realm capable of vividly transporting and metaphysically enlightening browsers of all ages, genders, nationalities, and spiritualities.
The websites which compose so much of cyber space should be, at their most fundamental level, an exact and literal extension of ourselves – our hearts, bodies, minds, souls, hopes, dreams, and delightfully profound ambitions. These can all be made manifest by each of us being our honest selves, while at the same utilizing all modern technological capabilities combined with our exciting passion-driven imaginations.
All we need do is remember that the internet belongs to all of us, not merely to so-called experts who as spin doctors would brainwash us into a deplorable state of severe limitation cleverly disguised as “acceptable standard” or “professional protocol”.
So, go ye forth into infinite cyber space with your heart’s burning desire. Be brave, be experimental, be YOURSELF!
Q: Extra-Terrestrials, UFO’s, and Abduction are a consistent theme throughout Yvette’s Bridal Formal. Is this simply a matter of interest for you or have you had a personal encounter?
A: I was horrified by monsters when I was a child. I suffered a torturous recurring nightmare about a jade green dragon with ruby red lips and humongous dagger-like razor sharp fangs and teeth. The wicked dragon used to talk to me from the blank brown wall on the east side of my maternal grandmother’s old swamp shack. Then, when I was nearing my 11th birthday, I suffered a concussion. I experienced either a horrific nightmare or real live abduction by space traveling aliens. It happened in this way.
I remember jumping down from the front porch deck. When I landed at the bottom of the steps from out of nowhere came a spine-cracking reverberation. I sensed numbness and the vibrating thud of a severe blow to the head which resulted in a disgusting purple knot swelling up on the starboard side of my cranium. I was given a stick of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum and when I bit down on the sweet chewing gum, I was struck by a kaleidoscope of whirling colours. I literally saw stars. That’s when my memory of alien contact begins. Unknown to me, the gum had been sprinkled with a discrete inorganic powder, the molecular structure of which contained psychoactive properties, similar to what happened with the medicine tampering contamination on store shelves in the Chicago metropolitan area back in 1982 when Tylenol-branded acetaminophen capsules had been laced with potassium cyanide, a tragic page of US history known as the “Tylenol Murders”.
The terrifying result of unwittingly ingesting this hallucinogenic and dissociative drug was that I found my consciousness hidden in the tuft of hair on a galloping gelding’s fetlock. A whole host of ferociously carnivorous predators paraded past my mind’s eye inducing an overpowering sensation of heart-stopping paranoia. Amid the dark suffocating vine-choked tangles of a densely humid sweltering tropical jungle, the weirdly humanoid-toothed aquatic Pacu, followed in rapid succession by thrashing Payara (Vampire Fish), blood-toothed Piranha, deadly electric eels, and man-eating bull-sharks accosted my distorted sensory organs until I found myself clutched into a tight foetal position, trembling violently and alone in the north corner of the shadowy basement of an abandoned eighteenth-century funeral parlour.
What this interdimensional witchcraft means, I have only the vaguest of notions, yet I shall continue to study and research the eerie communication, which I’m personally inclined to believe is a form of stenographic code, so as to uncover the cloaked information and unlock the radically powerful vanguard potential contained therein.
*This Answer Has Been Abridged*
Q: Since Yvette’s Bridal Formal you’ve created a great number of paintings and drawings. Do you think you could tell us a bit about your artistic process?
A: The paintings and drawings I’ve created are spawned from Bridget Bishop, the first woman hanged for witchcraft in the Salem Village in 1692; AKA Brigid, Celtic goddess of poets, romanticists, and faith healers. The visual art I create is a gift to myself and the whole world from these venerable ladies.
Q: You’ve mentioned that this is now your full-time occupation, do you have any advice for amateur artists looking to turn their passion into a career?
A: My advice for amateur artists would be to read Leonardo’s Treatise on the Art of Painting. Within this work, Leonardo recommends that to become great in one’s own right, an artist must be placed in the hands of a capable teacher whereby they can become accustomed to an excellent style of drawing; for this is the first step towards becoming a truly great painter.
For aspiring writers, I strongly recommend you read the best writing you can find and write whatever you can write every day or every night, using the excellent writing you have read as a guiding template.
Q: What plans do you have for the future? Do you have any new material that you are currently working on and plan to publish soon?
A: Yes, I certainly do have plans for the immediate future. A person almost completely unknown to me has employed me and is assisting my composition of an earth-shaking manuscript entitled: Humans Without Homes, which is due to be published on the 13th of October 2021.
We want to thank Sean for taking the time to sit down with us and talk about Yvette’s Bridal Formal, his writing, and artwork. We look forward to seeing what he gets up to next.
If you have a question about Yvette’s Bridal Formal or Sean’s art practice then please leave a comment down below!
Illustration by Joel Knockaert