The Process: Coming Up With The Design

When creating a custom bridal dress, you have the opportunity to make anything you want – anything you can imagine. I know this is kind of self-explanatory, but when planning a wedding we often think about finding the perfect dress first, and then the rest of the wedding theme is dictated by its design. But what we often don't think of is that when you make a custom bridal gown it can be created to match your vision. The place of your wedding or the flowers you are going to have or any other details can be used as the inspiration for the dress.

I would like to share the story of one of my favorite dresses because it illustrates this part of the process so well. When I met Angela about five years ago, all she knew was that she wanted a gown. So I sat down with her and we went through a few of her favorite outfits so I could get to know her style. She also shared that she was planning to get married in the garden of the Science Museum in Richmond, VA. She related to me that when you walk through the grounds you are surrounded by butterflies.

I thought that was going to be such a magical setting for a summer wedding. I knew that it would have to play a part in my design. Angela also shared with me that the signature color she had picked for her wedding was the iconic Tiffany blue. At the end of our meeting Angela said she loved the clothes she had seen on my website and my style and gave me complete freedom to come up with anything I could imagine.

I knew I had incorporate both the garden and the fact that she was using Tiffany Blue. I wanted to create something that brought both of these ideas together…

When I presented my sketches a few weeks later, I told her to imagine the following:

The small Tiffany boxes walking down the aisle first. Cute little bridesmaids’ dresses made out Tiffany blue taffeta and wrapped-up and finished with the iconic white satin bow. One by one they would come down. And then, after you opened the box, the crown jewel comes – Angela sparkling in her beautiful wedding gown. The butterfly design flapping its wings as she moves forward. Sheer silk organza topped with tiny but immensely shiny small Swarovski hand-sewn crystals wrapped around her body over a very fluid, almost liquid silk satin…

 Later on Angela changed her wedding venue to Glen Garden, VA but nonetheless the inspiration for the dress was still the same....

The Re-Cut

Creating a custom wedding dress doesn’t always mean you have to start from scratch. When Liz came in for her first consultation she had already purchased a lovely gown. It was beautiful cotton lace overlaying a tan (nude) lining. It was stunning but it didn't fit her at all. The proportions were so far from her body that the lace design over the bust sat almost at her waistline, making her look “saggy,” for lack of a better word. It was not flattering, to say the least. I’ve altered many wedding dresses in the past but I knew this one was going to need more than alterations.

As we examined everything more closely we came to the conclusion that we would basically need to take the whole dress apart and start over. I had to re-cut the entire bodice, neckline, and sleeves, creating a whole new top, as well as reshape the skirt to fit with it. Working on lace has many challenges, as it is so fine and delicate that it can only be sewn once on a machine. Everything has to first be hand-basted for a final fitting. In the process a beautiful new design came to life, where the lace shaped her body and giving her a true waistline.

After we were done, I asked Liz if she wanted me to sew the original tag back on the dress. She replied, “Honestly, YOU are the one that made my dress, so no…” That was one of the sweetest and most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in making a gown. Moments like that are the reason why I love doing this so much…

Liz and Simon got married last summer at the “Burlap and Beams” in the Adirondacks. Their pictures are so magnificent and special – I just had to share them with you. I also wanted to post the story behind this particular dress because it is different than the dresses I have made in the past.

Hannah & Baruch: a Brooklyn fairy tale

When Hannah came to me she had been shopping for a while and she had tried on so many dresses.  None of them fit her properly. She was lost. She hadn’t seen anything that came even close to what she imagined. She wanted a dress that was elegant, yet made a bold statement: something very classic with a little edge. She wanted a true evening gown that would be graceful, stylish, and glamorous.

I was truly inspired by her personality and accepted the challenge. After our first meeting we knew we wanted to create a corseted- top with a low back and cap sleeves and an over-the-top, very extravagant flared skirt with some kind of crystals, feathers, or beading texture to really make a statement. Our visions came together after a trip to the garment district where we found the perfect crystal appliqué for the back of the dress: -- an element that looked like birds flying away. The fabric inspired both of us. After that the rest of design came together seamlessly.

When I created the first drape the design somehow felt too heavy, -- too many things were going on. It was beautiful but somehow it wasn’t yet perfect. Hannah had mentioned that she wanted to be comfortable and dance the night away. I thought we could make the dress with a hi-low hemline. When I saw the smile on her face I knew it had worked… it made the dress lift up in the air and flow.  It was magical. The crystals on the back sparkled as she moved.

This dress was probably the most challenging one for me so far. I had never taken on a shape so big and so heavy to make. The silhouette required the bodice to have metal boning and the skirt to be made of five layers of silk, heavy tulle, and organza, as well as a petticoat, in order to sustain the weight of the crystals. Many hours of embroidery and what had seemed like a thousand yards of ruched tulle later the final product was ready. After the wedding Hannah told me she felt like a princess.