Alex's Wedding Dress - Two Views

The process of creating custom pieces for clients:

Each client I work with is completely different and my own process is very organic, as I am responding to the person, and taking into account many variables such as my client’s personality, their body type, their ideal dress vision, or sometimes just the feeling I get from them from our meeting and how they resonate with different silhouettes, colors, fabrics or textures.

First consultation for custom work:

I talk to the client over the phone, learn a little bit about them, what they’re looking to have created, and set up a consultation for them to come to the studio. I ask that they bring anything that will let me know what they like as a person, anything that inspires them, or that they would like to see as an influence in their creation.

I’ve had brides bring me everything from antique brooches, their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dresses, or their vintage childhood dress up garments to moss, snakeskins, and feathers.

Then we discuss budget, timing, more specifics of the garment, and from there it’s decided whether we will be starting with a foundation garment—i.e. a corset and raw fabric, the client’s heirloom pieces, my vintage pieces and fabric, or a combination of the above. Then, I’ll do a rough sketch of the design direction from this meeting, and we’ll do our first fitting. From there, I send my clients pictures of their dress in progress as I’m going along, between their fittings, and to ask their feedback on particular design details.

For clients whom I work with remotely, some of whom I’ve never met in person, all this is done via the phone and internet. I will ask them for specific measurements, and again, continue to send and receive feedback via photos.

It’s worked remarkably well thus far.

For clients whose bodies differ greatly from my forms, I often drape the most crucial parts of the garment directly on my clients.

I must say that I am very fortunate in the clients who are drawn to this kind of work in that they are often creative, open minded, generally seemingly low-stress individuals who are a lot of fun to work with. i.e.: the kind of people you are happy to have met, and hope you end up being friends with.

Examples of clients custom projects:

Jessica’s wedding dress:

My client, Jessica, had her grandmother’s dark cream netting wedding gown from the 20s, and her mother’s white satin wedding gown from the 60s, which she wanted to combine into her own wedding gown. There were also other elements she wanted worked into the dress—a crystal blessed by a shaman that her sister had brought her, her grandmother’s earring, the embellished crystal lace piece from the original veil, etc.

The original 60s dress had an empire waist, was formal and stiff and completely lined with heavy pellon, with long puff sleeves and a high collar.

The original 20s netting dress was tiny, and darkened with age, but had an amazingly long train, which I slowly shortened, bit by bit as I worked it into the layers of the skirt, allowing the main body of the dress to remain intact.

After washing and distressing the 60s dress, the beautiful lace embellished hem of the original dress was used to create a peplum for the bodice which I had fitted and given an hourglass waist to, as my client had an amazing curvy body. An asymmetrical sweetheart neckline was built, with support system, building in hand shredded lace and netting bits from both dresses, and quartz crystals were tucked into the lace trailing down the shoulder and bodice, as if they were growing out of the dress.

The rest of the skirt had layer upon alternating layer of cream netting and white tulle radiating in asymmetrical layers down to the very bottom. The embellished crystal piece was combined with the netting and lace from both dresses and worked into a comb for her hair.

Additionally, she and her groom had rings made from metal mined from actual meteors, and as that was a theme, I was able to find little rhinestone shooting star earrings from the 30s, which I redesigned for her to wear with her dress, and metallic silk floral embellishments which I added onto her shoes, which she was later able to remove to wear the shoes again for everyday.

Joahna’s commitment cerimony dress:

When I asked Joahna to come in for our first meeting, and bring me anything that might tell me about her as a person, and what she was most naturally drawn to, she brought: a stuffed raven, pictures of gothic cathedrals and ornate drippy chandeliers, a Jack Skellington statue, an Edward Gorey book, and homemade rum balls (yum! … excellent for facilitating the creative process…) and a photo of a beautiful dress with a heavily embellished front bodice piece.

I LOVE brides like this!!

She also said she loved textiles and pattern work, so I brought out fabric bins and we went thru to sift thru color and fabric palettes she was drawn to. The colors she was most drawn to were in a bin I call bruise, which has all the lovely purply into faded blues, greens, and nude tones of fading bruises, so I was guided by those colors in choosing and dyeing the fabrics and trims for her dress.

In the end, I made her dress by draping a large beautiful burn out silk scarf I had been saving, very strategically on a very patient Joahna, layer by layer to be able to use every available inch of the scarf, (as it was all I had), and to work the rest of the dress, and its coordinating hand dyed brocaded and iridescent fabrics around it.

It had layers of hand dyed drippy rayon fringe, a beautiful long adjustable bustle, old silk scarves, deco brooches etc.

The bodice piece was created from re-colored and reconfigured old handwork, which I beaded and embellished with vintage rhinestones, Austrian crystals, and freshwater pearls.