Love Across Two Generations.

In my ten years as a wedding dress designer, this is by far the most memorable experience of my career.  It started with a special request.  Amanda, a gorgeous bride in Simi Valley marrying her true love, Andrew, wondered if I could use her mother’s wedding dress to make her own.  Could I take it in, make some changes, modernize it?

Our first meeting was like every fitting we had after that:  full of love, laughter and ideas.  After a quick consultation, we decided it needed more than a few alterations.  We agreed to take the whole dress apart and use the pieces we loved to make something new.  That took a leap of faith.

Amanda wanted something simple in design, elegant and light.  I wanted to create something that captured her free spirit, that framed her beauty, let us see her cool tattoos and her figure.  Gina, Amanda’s mother, put the dress on one last time (it still fit!) and we sketched out her dream dress:  lace from the original gown, a sweeping skirt, a sheer top with an open back.

The lace of the skirt became our material for the top.  I added another layer of lace and some embroidery to add texture.  At our first fitting, we made some decisions:  the length of the train, the treatment of the sleeve, adjustments to the fit.  Amanda’s laughter filled the room, Gina’s energy kept us moving forward.  Collaborating with this beautiful daughter-mother team was never boring.  Their ideas were great, and we made small adjustments across a few fittings.

At our last fitting, the idea of a veil came up.  Would it work?  Was it something she could see herself in?  We took additional lace and more beading – this added a new layer of romance to the dress and brought all the other elements together.  It was a modern fairytale.

Seeing Amanda come down the aisle was indescribable.  All of us were in awe at how beautiful and happy she looked.  She walked down the aisle on her father’s arm, beaming in the same material that walked up the aisle decades before.

Swept Up

This is one of my favorite pieces I did this year. I was inspired by the idea of a bride who was both bold and traditional, a woman who wanted a dress that matched her style: romantic, modern, and youthful. The dress combines all of these elements through the cut and draping, material choice, lace and beading, and mesh.

One of the first things I do when designing a new piece is to find the right materials. They inspire me. Actually, they begin to give my design direction. Here, I started with the idea of a bodice that is both light and textured, in three layers. First, I chose a traditional lace, in an ivory that balanced out the sweeping skirt. Next, I played with these feather-like pieces that would give the bodice a playful, ethereal feel. The bodice gives the bride shape, creating an attractive shape from the shoulders to the waist. I cut the bodice with a a deep V, which also made the dress modern and bold, and elongated the torso (height!). The beading added to bodice provides another layer of contrast- see, while the feathered elements are soft with frayed edges, the beading shapes are tiny spheres and lines that capture the light as the dress moves. Together they create a mix of soft and modern, lightness and glamour.

To capture this dress, we did a photo shoot in Death Valley, at the sand dunes. The desert is full of romantic contrasts too. Sweeping lines, soft and hard textures, a quiet kind of romance that leaves a lasting impression.

Romance in Baja

We drove down to Valle de Guadalupe, the ‘of-the-moment’ wine country about an hour south of the border.   The setting was the perfect place to capture the feeling of this dress:  romantic, youthful, both traditional and bold.

Valle de Guadalupe is a dry, rolling landscape with giant boulders that look like they grew out of the grass.  What makes this place so romantic – and popular – is that it’s just a ten minute drive from the beach, making it the right combination of sun and ocean breeze to grow bold red wines.

This dress, too, is that special mixture of opposites.  Its cut is traditional – a ball gown – with a full skirt, lace, and coverage through the shoulders.  But it is also new and fresh: a youthful lace pattern, an ethereal feel, an earthy ivory color, and mesh and lace that keep the dress feeling light and bold.  The back is open, providing a contrast to the traditional elements, without leaving the bride feeling bare.

I created the top using the same style of lace from the skirt fabric, and hand-embroidered the lace the provide the right amount of coverage, in design of my own that swirls across the shoulders.

And because of the mix of materials and styles, a variety of shapes and ages look great in this dress.  I designed it for the bride that is on-trend, for a wedding that mixes old and new, an event that is relaxed and romantic.

Mermaid on Land

The mermaid cut is, of course, one of the most popular in the bridal gown game.  The reason is simple: the cut accentuates the hour-glass shape that many brides like, and a train gives the dress a sweeping, dramatic look.

In the dress below, I’ve cut a log mermaid train, with embroidery and details along the sides and hip to further mark the mermaid silhouette.  The sparkle also helps thin the silhouette, giving the bride height, too.

The beading on this dress took some time, as you might imagine.  I created bead combinations to fan out like stars and clustered them along the dress to catch the light and give the dress a sense of drama and glamour.

The mermaid cut – tapering just below the hip and then fanning out – makes the train even more dramatic.  You can imagine this dress making its way down the aisle, with everyone’s eyes on the soft, draping fabric, and that bold open back.