Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dreaming in Gold for Your Wedding?

I have just discovered Polyvore and I just had a blast creating my first "set". This is It's totally addictive, so you've been warned! The interface is super-easy and intuitive. You can find item by searching keywords or by browsing other sets with similar items. It's a really fantastic way to crystallize your inspiration into concrete items while being able to see where they are available, and much they cost. You can really see what works and what doesn't with a few clicks. Indeed, more of this to come!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lace Wedding Dresses Are Rocking My World

It's been about five months since my post "Lace wedding dresses are making a come-back". To follow up, that was an understatement! Thankfully, our 2010 collection does not disappoint with many lace designs. Some are completely lace-covered, and some have lace appliques. Some have all-over beading, and some have no beading at all. In terms of silhouette, lace works best with a mermaid, sheath or slim A-line silhouette.

There are many different patterns of lace that are incredibly different from one another. You can have an open-pattern lace with vine-like patterns. Here is an example which has been hand-beaded with crystals, "pewter" beads and sequins: Custom Couture Florence "Bling" Wedding Dress. The vine-like pattern is sewn onto a textured English net background.

Here is the other end of the spectrum: Jessica lace Wedding Dress. It is not beaded at all, and is covered with a crocheted lace that is soft, supple and silky to the touch. Different still is Venetian lace. Venetian lace has no net "background" giving it a distinctive look. It also comes with a distinctive price tag, as in high. Christine Venetian Lace Wedding Dress also has a matching pure Venetian lace bolero and a matching Venetian lace veil. Are you drooling yet?

I'll end this post highlighting Alencon Lace, known as "the Queen of lace". Alencon is characterized by the fine corded edge that outlines the flowers and leaves of the underlying Chantilly lace. This adds a three-dimensional quality to the lace as well as stiffness. Here is a dress covered in a particularly "robust" Alencon lace: Jacqueline Alencon Lace Wedding Dress.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Designer Wedding Dress Collection: Opulence

Our newest collection of 2010 Designer Wedding Dresses at Custom Couture Bridal is called "Opulence". This is our highest-end collection, yet completely affordable. We have been told these gowns should retail for $2000 to $ 4000, yet we are making them available starting at $1099. Brides looking for a pure silk wedding dress will be especially pleased since upgrading to silk is approximately $400 depending on the style and the amount of fabric. By doing so these gowns are equivalent to dresses $3000 + in retail shops.

It really is all in the design and the details. The beading often uses Swarovski crystals and Austrian "diamonds" for beautiful sparkle. The laces are the finest: Alencon and Venetian to name a couple. The collection also often has matching accessories: veils and boleros or even a "coat" in two cases. Perfect coordination all made affordable AND made to measure. As you can tell, I'm quite proud!

Brides can still customize their gowns by choosing between various design options such as the closure, fabric, color, straps and beading. The gowns can also be combined with one another. We can make a custom design based on combining elements of this collection together, or we can use other design elements to make the perfect "dream" dress.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Evolution of Mermaid Wedding Dresses

Not long ago a fashion design student specializing in bridal design in London asked me my opinion on the latest trends in bridal fashion. Besides it being nice to be asked, I realized something: I have a pretty unique perspective on what's cutting edge right now. Why? Brides come to me to have a dress custom made when they can't find it anywhere else.

Why do these "gaps" exist between what's coming off the bridal runway and what brides are really looking for? It's due to the timing of the launches. As an example, The Spring 2010 gowns coming out now were actually designed about six months ago, maybe more. The process is time consuming for many reasons: in fact I see another post coming on this topic!

Back to what's hot right now! Brides are getting more daring and want to show off their figures like never before. At the same time, they imagine their wedding dress to have a full or somewhat full skirt. This probably goes back to the iconic "shape" of a wedding dress that we have all had imprinted in our minds since childhood! Enter the redesigned "Mermaid" wedding dress. (Also called "Fit and Flare" and Trumpet.) The Mermaid wedding dress of years past was similar to its namesake in that it was figure-hugging all the way down to the knee, with a sudden "flare" of fabric. The Mermaid of the moment is hip-hugging as well, but the skirt flares at the upper or mid thigh instead. In fact, the line is being blurred between traditional A-line wedding dresses and the "New" mermaid style. This is happening for two reasons: 1) the skirt "flare" can be a more subtle draping of fabric 2) the "flare" can be quite high up on the hip.

Is this the cut for you? The traditional Mermaid cut is quite unforgiving and tends to make brides' rear ends look bigger than they are... Most of us don't need that, so the good news is that the newer styles are much more universally flattering. Moving the "flare" higher up on the hip is especially helpful. This draws less attention to the buttocks and balances out the silhouette in a much more pleasing way. Great news for you fashionista brides out there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thinking of an Ivory Wedding Dress? This is for You!

How do you know an ivory wedding dress is the right color for you? Can it be more than a "middle of the road" between pure white and champagne tones? Totally. To answer the first question, think of how pearls look against your skin. Have you always liked the effect? Don't think of the style of pearls which might be too conservative for you: rather, think of the tone itself. Chances are you'll be saying a resounding "yes" if you have olive or creamy skin. Also in the resounding "yes" category are dark-skinned women: especially those with rich brown tones. In this case you may want to consider a rich ivory color, or a gold wedding dress. (See an example in the post below.) Creamy skin also looks nice in ivory, especially a paler shade.

If you have very fair skin you'll probably want to avoid ivory in favor of white. This way your dress will be lighter than your skin tone which is the goal.

There are many shades of ivory with varying levels of color, and varying levels of yellow. If you're shopping for a dress in person, the best way to judge the color is against your skin, and preferably in daylight. If this is not possible in the store, ask for a fabric sample that you can take home. Shopping online? Take the time to request a fabric sample. It's well worth the minor cost if you're serious about the wedding dress in question. Not only for the color, but to judge the texture, shine and overall fabric quality. Use the coupon code FREEFABRIC at our store Custom Couture Bridal for free bridal fabric samples. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Considering a Custom Made Wedding Dress?

If you're considering a custom made wedding dress, here's what to consider first:
  • Do you know what will look good on you? If not, consider checking out this guide to wedding dresses that flatter your figure.
  • Do you know the terminology? This will help you to communicate with your service provider effectively in their language.
  • Are you tempted to copy a designer style? Consider customizing the style rather than making a copy. Reputable designers won't make a replica anyway. Think of your gown as part of your legacy. Do you want took back at your special day and think about how you stole a designer's intellectual property? I'm sure you would you rather think about how you created a totally unique dress that expresses your style and individuality.
  • Are you in the process of losing weight? If so, consider a lace-up or corset type closure.
  • Think about adding a touch of color. That is part of the beauty of a custom made dress: you are in control! You can use the color to match your bridesmaids, mother, or hubby to be in some way.
  • Think about the formality of your wedding. You want the dress to be in synch with the setting, the time of day, the season, etc.
  • Make sure the fabric you choose matches the design of the dress. Not all dresses can be made in all fabrics. A good designer should be able to advise you. Looking for lots of movement and flow: chiffon is for you. Thinking traditional and more formal? A satin weave whether made of silk or a poly blend is perfect. Need a light, cool fabric? A taffeta weave is your friend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Convertible Wedding Dress!

It's funny how little wedding dresses have changed in the last twenty years when you think of how much the rest of fashion has changed. Other types of clothing have changed with changing needs: we have women's suits designed to go from office to evening, there are jeans for almost every possible occasion. Well, time for some innovation in the wedding dress department!

Brides want a dress that will be beautiful AND practical. Elegant yet sexy. Something that gets the point across as to who is the blushing bride, but will also have her new hubby thanking his lucky stars as he catches a glimpse over at her on the dance floor thinking, "My new wife looks HOT!"

Without further ado, I announce the latest creation from Custom Couture Bridal: the convertible wedding dress.

convertible wedding dress
By unzipping the hidden zipper, Voila! You are ready to re-emerge as the ever so styling dance floor diva that you are. You can even wear this dress again in it's short form without having to "sacrifice" the original wedding dress. And, this can be very a very budget-friendly alternative to buying two wedding dresses...!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Classic Choice: A White Wedding Dress

White wedding dresses are rife with symbolism: purity, virginity, what have you. Clearly today these symbols are less relevant in our society, nevertheless the white dress persists! Why? Is it that brides tend to glow in white? Is it that guests assume the bride will wear white therefore no other woman will wear it, rendering the bride a visible beacon amongst her guests? Maybe it's because many weddings tend to be in the summer and white looks so nice outdoors in the sunlight. Below is a classic white wedding dress complete with romantic pickups and a bubble hem.

Whatever the reason, the vast majority of wedding dresses are still in shades of white and ivory. Some more intrepid brides have chosen other colors, such as a gold or champagne wedding dress (pictured below) or even pink!

Whatever your choice, make sure you don't compromise your fabric for the color you want. The fabric of your dress is incredibly important and needs to "stand on it's own". Don't be afraid to ask for a fabric sample just to be really sure this is what you want. This goes for a white dress too! Happy shopping!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How Much Wedding Budget Should Go Towards "The Dress"?

This is a tough question, but I'm feeling up to attacking this topic today! I've read in supposedly reputable sources (bridal magazines) that about 20% of your wedding budget should go towards your dress. I must disagree!

This may have made sense when there was limited choice in wedding dresses, much less what I'll call "nice" wedding dresses. To be able to understand the numbers, we'll first have to look at what weddings really cost! According to The Wedding Report the average US wedding in 2008 cost $21,814. This was a 24% decline from 2007 indicating the recession affected couple's budgets in a big way. This means that even at discounted "recession prices" that the average bride should be spending well over $4,000 on her dress. Pretty insane, right? Why would they suggest such a thing? I liken it to DeBeers giving the advice that men should be spending two month's salary on the engagement ring. It's in their interest to aim high here! What is plastered all over bridal magazines? Ads for dresses! So of course they want to promote the idea of paying a lot for a wedding dress: it's also in their best interest.

Before we get all into conspiracy-theory territory, let's look at some more "real world" numbers to see what brides are ACTUALLY spending! In 2008 brides spent an average of $916 on their dress. Yes, a far cry from $4k indeed! There's more to it, however.
  • The veil: $106
  • Tiara, combs, hair pins, garter: $72
  • Shoes: $94
  • Dress Preservation: $124
  • All figures from The Wedding Report
This makes the total "outfit" plus preservation afterwards come to $1,312. If we use the average cost of a wedding in 2008 fro above ($22K) and do the math, this works out to 6% of the budget. Breathing easier now, aren't you! To give a couple of examples outside the "average cost" this would mean that if your wedding budget is:
  • $10,000 that at 6% your bridal attire should come to $600
  • $30,000 translates to $1,800
Feeling better, aren't you? Now that you have a guideline, get shopping!

Friday, May 15, 2009

What are couture wedding dresses anyway?

"Couture" is a very misunderstood and misused term. Not a coincidence: the use and abuse have naturally led people down the path of confusion. Couture originates from the French term "Haute Couture" which literally translates to "high sewing" or "high dressmaking". Haute Couture in France used to be a term that referred to the exclusive fashion houses in France: Chanel, Christian Dior and the like. Not just loosely, it was (and is!) even regulated who could use the term Haute Couture in their advertising. (You gotta love the French - such sticklers for rules. I can say that since I'm half French!)

In order to qualify to use the term, the couture houses had to satisfy certain criteria, of which the main one was to design made-to-order clothing for private clients. So this is the main distinguishing feature of "Pret-a-porter" vs. "Couture": Couture is custom made for the individual client and pret-a-porter (ready to wear) is fabricated to certain pre-determined sizes.

Coming back to wedding dresses, even though it can seem that you are "custom ordering your dress", from a bridal boutique, the vast majority (I would say over 99%, but don't quote me!) are made to pre-determined sizes and therefore actually pret-a-porter. This term is itself a little bit of a misnomer because as any boutique owner will tell you, the chances of your wedding dress that you ordered (even though it's in your size) of fitting you perfectly are extremely slim! You will need alterations, which can be costly. The cost of alterations can be such a surprise that I recommend getting quotes on the alterations before purchasing your dress from a boutique, if you go this route.

OK, so if Couture wedding dresses are all custom made, why do several manufacturers have lines of wedding gowns made in stock sizes with "couture" in the name? In a word: marketing. Even though "couture" technically means made to measure, since savvy clothing labels have been using the term to mean "high end" or "designer", consumers have started to interpret the meaning as exactly that. Hence all the confusion!

So, how can you get a couture wedding dress you ask? Well, if you have upwards of about $40,000 to part with you can see if one of the few big-name wedding dress designers out there will make a custom wedding dress for you. Or, you can come to Custom Couture Bridal where we custom design wedding dresses and make them to our brides' measurements. This is our specialty: we don't actually sell stock sizes. Even if you'd like to buy one of the dresses from our in-house collection, your dress will be custom made to your measurements.

Why is the concept of custom made clothing worthy of such obsession and even legislation? It will sound cliche, but you have to experience it to understand completely. It's all about the fit, and in wedding dresses, there's nothing more important! Imagine, you're walking down the aisle and you start to feel your dress slipping down just a little. Or maybe a lot. It will show on your face. That precious moment of yours will be stolen from you so needlessly! This is exactly why more and more brides are trusting us to make a dress that will fit them perfectly.

Come see our collection of couture wedding dresses. Each dress is custom made and customizable in terms of several aspects. This way you can not only have a custom made dress, but you can tweak several elements of the dress to your specifications.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finally: Simple, Beautiful Wedding Dresses!

I've probably have heard the phrase "Less is more" more than just about everyone else on this planet having gone from a degree in Architecture to being a wedding dress designer, but there, I put in writing. It's just true in so many ways. (For you non-artsies out there, the phrase was coined by Architect Mies van der Rohe, but you can call him "Mies" for short. There - banter for your next cocktail party!)

It used to be that to get a true simple yet beautiful wedding dress you had to shell out a lot of your hard earned wedding budget on a top-name designer like Vera Wang or Amsale. The good news is that is no longer the case. They are harder to find, but there are some out there! We've put together some of our simple wedding dresses that don't break the bank here for you to enjoy.

From a designers' perspective it is harder to design a simple wedding dress than a more complicated one. Informal wedding dresses rely on the purity of the lines and are much less forgiving than a dress with a lot more happening. Sometimes a simple concept can fail in the execution and end up looking like a sundress or nightgown! This is probably why they are hard to find in mainstream boutiques.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh, you lucky brides with TWO wedding dresses!

OK, I admit it, I'm envious of the brides who have decided to have one dress for the ceremony, and another dress for the reception. It's really a neat idea to be able to have a more traditional dress in the day for the ceremony and pictures, and then to be able to turn the sexiness level up a notch or two and dance the night away in a more glamorous creation. The "evening dress" can be a different color and a style more conducive to dancing.

All great in theory, but you need to budget for both dresses from the beginning. Get your prices and make sure to factor in alterations, and any additional accessories if necessary. We've been getting several requests for these gowns lately which have been inspired from red-carpet type dresses and sometimes music videos. Usually these dresses are NOT inspired from traditional bridal manufacturers who seem slow to pick up on this growing trend. We've gathered some of our Red-Carpet wedding dresses for you to get inspired. Have fun. And yes, I'm jealous!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Buying Your Wedding Dress Online

This was the week of helping out two brides who ordered their dresses from less-than reputable Internet retailers. One bride ended up with a dress eight inches too short. Not exactly a minor detail! The other bride is not happy with her dress overall: essentially it does not match the picture provided on the Web site.

Here is my advice to heed BEFORE ordering from an Internet retailer:
  • If the price sounds too good to be true, it is. Beware!
  • Find and print the return policy. (This however was no help to one of our brides. Despite having a return policy, the seller is not honoring it!)
  • Realize that by paying with PayPal your protection as a buyer is limited to receiving the item or not. If the item is not as described, your recourse is with the vendor, not with PayPal
  • Make sure you are seeing the retailer's own photo of the dress in question, or pictures of other dresses that they have made. I can't stress this point enough!
  • Order a fabric sample. There is no better way than to see it in person.
  • Only order from people you can communicate with easily, preferably by phone. Communication is so important when explaining the details of your dress. An e-mail description is fine to start the process, but a live conversation is must before you finalize everything.
  • If your dress design is a combination of several dresses and otherwise hard for you to visualize, it is best to have a designer sketch it out for you so that you are sure that 1) you like the way the elements look together and 2) you know what you will be getting. My company offers this service as of approximately one month now and it is incredibly popular! Custom wedding dress design service.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Saving Money on Your Wedding: Read The Fine Print

Let's face it: some of us are just big-picture people who'd rather leave the details to someone else! When it comes to saving big bucks on your wedding budget, detail-oriented people have the edge. Try to factor in all costs for an item or service when you get your prices. An obvious point is the reception. At my wedding there was no fixed price "open bar" option, so everything was drink by drink. We expected the bill to be high, but we didn't realize that we should have limited the drinks in terms of type. In other words, out came the expensive scotches and "top-shelf" drinks since guests perceive an open bar as an open bar. No one knew the financial carnage that was ensuing!

Another surprise can be dress alterations. In fact, bridal shops use alterations as quite the profit center. You can't blame them when they face tough competition from the Internet, present company included. However, when I hear about brides who bargained their dress down to $700 only to have to turn around and pay $350 for alterations, it makes me mad. My advice is to talk about the cost of alterations before you've bought the dress. That's when you have bargaining power. Once you've bought your dress, and you're at your first fitting, they can pretty much charge you whatever they want.

Feel free to comment with ways that you've saved money so that others can benefit from your wisdom!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lace wedding dresses are making a come-back

I remember when I was shopping for a wedding dress my worst nightmare was a lace dress. It conjured up visions of horrible puffed sleeves and gobs and gobs of fabric. (Those poor 80s brides!) Things have changed in a big way, and the pendulum is swinging back towards lace, but in a much sleeker and oh-so-sophisticated kind of way. Monique L'Huillier and Francesca Pitera (who designs for the Jim Hjelm label) are noted designers for their cutting edge use of lace.

I have noticed that brides from the UK are particularly fond of lace right now. This probably means that Canadian and US brides will be soon seeking out the delicate fabric as well!

One advantage to lace is that it can add visual interest to an otherwise simple gown. Another nice bonus is that you can have a slinky mermaid style fit and flare gown and not have to worry about your dress being too revealing in terms of "show-through" since the lace provides a second layer of fabric.

Here is a picture of a lace wedding dress we made recently with a lace overlay over Duchess Bridal Satin.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Are we witnessing the end of "the train"?

It seems that no one wants a train on their wedding dress these days. Let me explain. I receive many requests each day to design custom made wedding dresses, and lately pretty much all of my customers make it clear: "no train". Yesterday someone left the door open by stating "maybe just enough train to touch the ground a little." That seems to be the most extra fabric anyone wants!

They say bridal fashion is slow to change, but that when it does change it is in big steps and lasts a while. This could be a prime example! We'll have to keep tabs on this trend for you. Take our survey at the right! Incidentally, designers (myself included) have been using shorter trains this season, but not eliminating them completely. The advantage of a customizable wedding dress such as what we provide at Custom Couture Bridal is that the length of the train is completely up to each bride. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Avoiding the "Wedding" name-game trap

While planning my own wedding I couldn't help but notice everything "wedding related" came with an inflated price tag. I wish I did what friends of mine did and planned the entire event with vendors as a "family gathering" instead of a wedding. They saved a bundle! AND they have a funny story about how their contact at the venue indignantly exclaimed the day of, "You didn't tell me it was for a wedding!"

You may not want to go that far, but why not leave the word "wedding" out while pricing most of your services? Try and and I'm sure you'll be surprised. Aside from the reception, your next biggest expense (or so you thought!) might be your dress. Why are wedding dresses so expensive? As I learned in business school, the prices for pretty much everything we buy are governed not by what is a reasonable profit for the manufacturer, but by what the market will bear. Without going into too much economics, this basically means that there will be dresses at all prices points as long as there are brides willing to part with their money.

The good news these days is that there is increased competition and so many more dresses to choose from. This means more options at the "reasonable" end of the spectrum. If you haven't seen my Web site yet, check it out. You can design your own wedding dress and buy it online. With that shameless plug, that concludes today's post!