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Since Iva had gone to fashion school she told me she would like to take the swatch home and think of a design herself and do some sketches. However, she was very skeptical about her drawing ability, but I told her not to worry. She could send me whatever she drew and I would work with her to establish the final design and fit.Read More
One of the best things about living in New York is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has been an incredible source of inspiration and information for me since I first moved here. Every year they have a special fashion exhibit starting with the opening ceremony known as the MET Gala. I am always amazed by the spectacular presentations.
This year the exhibit is called Manus X Machina. It “explores how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear. With more than 170 ensembles dating from the early 20th century to the present, the exhibition addresses the founding of the haute couture in the 19th century, when the sewing machine was invented, and the emergence of a distinction between the hand (manus) and the machine (machina) at the onset of mass production. It explores this ongoing dichotomy, in which hand and machine are presented as discordant tools in the creative process, and questions the relationship and distinction between haute couture and ready-to-wear.”
I tried to pick only my favorites to share with you but it has been hard to choose just a few… From Karl Lagerfeld to original Coco Chanels, Valentino, Givenchy, to one of my favorite dresses of all times- the Dior scalloped evening dress circa fall/winter 1949–1950.
“This extraordinary ball gown by Christian Dior, of gray silk tulle, arrayed with an overlay of scallop-shaped petals The bodice and shell forms of its skirt are embellished with nacreous paillettes and sequins, iridescent seed beads, aurora-borealis crystals, and pearls. Dior is best known for his revival of the wasp-waisted silhouette seen here. His celebrated first collection of 1947 was dubbed the "New Look" by the influential American editor Carmel Snow, because the corseted, full-bosomed, and hourglass shaping had not been seen for decades. In fact, the "New Look" was an old look revived. After the deprivations of World War II, Dior believed that the survival of the haute couture relied on its ability to restore fantasy and luxury to women's wardrobes. The fragile effects of this gown, which merges Second Empire romanticism with the classical iconography of ideal and eternal beauty, recall Dior's belief that "fashion comes from a dream."
House of Givenchy
I often encounter two different types of brides. The first is the kind who knows exactly what she wants and what she is looking for. She has been planning this day ever since she was little, or at least ever since she knew she had found the person with whom she wants to say "I do." Either way, she comes prepared when we have our first consultation. She has been shopping for a while but hasn't yet seen what she wants. She shows me sketches, pictures, and very specific details of the dress she wants to make. Usually the challenge is to incorporate everything into one actual design idea.
The second type of bride I meet is very different. It's the girl who has almost no idea what she wants to wear. BUT… She knows what she doesn't want to wear. She basically has hated everything she has seen out there in bridal shops and bridal magazines. She usually loves my style and my designs for my ready-to-wear line and that's why she wants me to come up with a creation for her wedding. It's always so exciting to accept the challenge because I find my inspiration in her story and her personality.
In both cases, it is usually hard for the brides to decide to go forward with a custom bridal gown, especially because we only discuss sketches and there is no actual drape yet of our ideas to try on.
I always find that when we take the first trip to the garment district in New York City and we start looking at actual fabrics both brides are in. It is such an important part of the process for them because for the first time they can actually envision the real deal. They can touch and feel the material and see how it's going to look over their body. For me, as a designer, I can picture things in my head: the way the fabrics can be combined, the way a soft silk will drape over your body and a tough taffeta or organza will give structure to a garment. But for the bride, it's always the moment when a bride sees the perfect fabric or lace that the rest of the design and process comes alive in her mind and she is ready to take the leap into the unknown word of custom bridal…
Here are some of my favorite places to take a bride…
It's a classic. They have left-over designer fabric – you can never go wrong there. We’re talking Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, and Ferragamo, to say the least. I know it's a cliché to say, “Go to Mood,” but it's always, always amazing. The bridal lace section in the back has never disappointed.
It's overwhelming and you can go crazy if you are alone. They basically have every kind of fabric you can imagine. When I was in school at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) I would often go there and get swatches for all my projects because it's almost a one- stop shop. The selection of silk, satins, organzas, taffetas, and chiffons is impeccable. This is the store where we usually find the basis fabric for every dress.
A specialty boutique for bridal fabrics and, most definitely, laces and lace designs. I’ve found many incredible pieces that I've used on wedding gowns and veils. They also have a wide selection of crystal trims that can be hand sewn to finish a design.
Those are just a few of my favorites. I hope they have inspired you and I can't wait to take you on that journey one day.
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.
photos by: Calypso Rae Photography
Recently, I had the honor to participate in a wonderful wedding event called “Toasted,” which is held at the historical event space – the Warsaw – here in Brooklyn. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon filled with joy and excitement.
I had a wonderful time preparing my booth, particularly since one of my brides – Hannah – was so nice and allowed me to showcase her dress. As fate would have it, the table I was assigned was right in front of a big wall mirror, which made the dress look especially magnificent!
The variety of vendors made the atmosphere so much fun for everyone present – it was incredible. In addition to cocktails, there were many local catering and cake companies offering tastings of their delicious creations to the sounds of the DJ. A hair stylist team was braiding hair on the spot; a make-up company was giving make-overs; and there was a super amusing Kodak photo booth where couples could pose with different artifacts and get instant Polaroids to take home as a souvenirs.
I was really inspired as I met so many brides and their fiancés. I really enjoyed talking to everyone and I strongly recommend this event for any couple in the future.
Here are some photos…
photos by: Kamila Harris Photography
This season I had the pleasure to be invited to the Swarovski New York showroom for a presentation of their new Spring 2017 collection. The New York team of Swarovski works with select designers directly, introducing them the new shapes, colors and innovations, and I was fortunate to become one of them. It was a fascinating, informative and very inspirational experience for me as a bridal designer. I love working with embroidered crystals and other beaded textures and I have done it in on many on my designs!
Among many things, I was really taken by one of their inspiration stories called “AIR “, as I believe it translates to bridal very well.“A breath of air, central to our very existence, remains a potent symbol of calm for all those wishing to retreat from the pressure of daily life."
One of their last innovations which, stood out for me, was their Crystal Fabric. It is just what it sounded – fabric made of crystals. As such, it can be used for a small section on a garment or applied all over. It comes as a sheet of crystals that can be cut into any shape and then heat-transferred on any material.
I also fell in love with the Kaputt crystal collection, which was the result of astonishing teamwork by one of my favorite designers and a source of inspiration, Jean Paul Gaultier and the Swarovski team. Their story began when Jean Paul Gaultier was struck by the perfection of Swarovski’s crystal assortment, and felt that the only way to add his touch and make something new, was to introduce an element of imperfection. His solution was designing a crystal cut which consisted of six variants that riff on irregular forms of pendants- square shapes and round stones in rich, shimmering metallic colors – a striking technological innovation that is simultaneously perfect and imperfect. Playing on the theme of “perfect imperfection”, it was aptly named “Kaputt”(German for “broken”). I absolutely love this concept and the shapes!
Another favorite of mine was the Crystal Leatherette-it. It is faux-leather that could be custom designed to have a crystal motif embossed on it. It really gave me some cool ideas for making a leather jacket that could be worn over a wedding gown.
Being able to work with the Swarovski’s team directly has opened a world of possibilities and ideas for me, and I couldn’t wait to share this with you. I hope it was as inspiring and exciting for you as it has been for me. I would love to hear about your ideas and inspiration...
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.
photos by: Meir Pliskin Photography