Monday, October 13, 2008

A reader asks the impossible

And I deliver. (Sort of.)

Lisa writes:

I have a question I am hoping you can help me with, or point me in the right direction. I am searching for a very particular bridesmaid’s dress that I can picture in my mind, but find no where! It is made of tulle (at least the overlay) and is a one- shoulder style, with a fitted waist/vintage-style silhouette. Oh- and it comes in a lovely muted French blue or a wonderful muted vintage-jade green J.

Where on earth can I find this!?!?!?! I really want a vintage feel for my bridesmaid’s dresses, but everything I see looks so modern! I’m trying to veer away from the same old plain strapless dresses I see all the time. My own dress is an amazing creation that began as a traditional 1948 war-brided ivory satin, and has turned into an amazing fairy-tale creation with sleeves of pink rosettes and ruffles lovingly borrowed from a 1920’s ballet costume!

Can you help, or know who can? I want my girls to look and feel lovely and old-timey (in the best way J).

I finally found this Tracy Reese Toga Dress.

Not quite a fitted waist, but pretty f'ing fabulous, right?

It's $565. (That's what I get for browsing Bergdorf Goodman.)

So I wrote to Amy of Bride Chic, who specializes in one-of-a-kind, vintage-meets-contemporary gowns. Here's her reply:

Your bride could use the help of a dressmaker or custom designer. The good news is, she already sees the components and fabrication of this gown clearly in her head; this will be a great help to the specialist translating her design into reality.

Price wise a custom designed gown usually runs parallel with those gowns you'll find in better bridal salons. So where to find a dressmaker or designer? This is where most brides become confused. They just don't know where to look.
My recommendation: This bride should check out the vintage stores in her area. Most offer some kind of custom design services or certainly can refer her to someone who specializes in recreating vintage looks.

Typically the best place for a bride to start looking for any designer is via recommendation. If the bride knows a friend or even friend of a friend who has had a gown made, that's the best lead to follow. Other good sources for finding designers: Wedding and event planners usually have a coterie of specialized wedding industry vendors they've had experience with in their area (FYI some planners work on an hourly basis and can be hired for a minimum). Also newspapers and periodicals have wedding editors. These people know all the best designers and bridal salons around the area and would happily recommend.
Online you'll also find some custom designers in your area. Best to type in "bridal couture or couture bridal--or, to even more specific, break it down to--'custom bridal-New York City'. You should come up with all the specialized designers in your area.

Lisa, I don't know if this is helpful. It sounds like you already have a kick-ass seamstress.... I guess the question is whether you really want to get into designing custom dresses for the bridesmaids.

Just to shake things up, I though I'd sneak in this Samoy Lenko dress.

It's a more vivid blue than you described, and there isn't any tulle. But this collection was inspired by "the intimacy of a 1920’s French boudoir." Might not be a bad fit with your 1920's ballet costume.

I can't wait for your wedding, b/t/w.


  1. Nomi-

    You are a doll- I am so excited that you posted my question! How INCREDIBLE is that Tracy Reese dress- it is perfect- except I would go straight to hell if I asked my sweet girls to pay that kind of money. Amy's ideas are helpful. I am going to talk with Cecilia, my genius seamstress, and see what she thinks. Maybe some other readers will weigh-in, too. The crap thing is that I'm starting to cut it pretty close- the wedding is February 21st. Thanks again for taking the time to give this thought, and devote blog-space to it! I'll keep you posted, and be sure to send photos of everything. Best,Lisa

  2. niiiice work. i love both of those dresses. so, you're saying that it will be impossible to go back to a time when weddings didn't dominate my life, then?

    i shall prepare.


    vintage tulle gown, gorgeous!

  4. That first dress is fantastic! :)

    Martha B.

  5. That dress would be so easy to copy. I hope she tries. She might have to purchase a 1970's one-shoulder dress pattern to work from, like Vogue 7699 (try online) but after that the tulle overlay should be a piece of cake.

    Great job on bringing her words to life!