I began researching ideas for Michelle’s new design in preparation for our upcoming Design Consultation. Often brides have lots of images to show me of things they like, but Michelle left the challenge up to me. She did have one important clue that helped me in my search: She loves Roland Mouret dresses.
Roland Mouret designs really sleek architectural style dresses. I also really love his work! It is really fun from a patternmaker’s perspective, and also his designs are great for creating illusions of the hourglass figure we hope to create for Michelle’s “fifties-shift”. This clue and the information gathered from her Questionnaire helped me to gather ideas and images to show her to make sure we were on the same page as to what she wanted in her wedding dress design.
I have books, files and magazines full of dress images, and the internet is always a constant source of new ideas. I spent a lot of time pulling images for Michelle, settling on my favorite 50 or so. Why so many? Prior to this meeting, I had spent about an hour with the bride. I am working with her to create THE dress that speaks to who she is. The more solid options to start with, the better! It’s easy to edit something out, but hard to describe something that you can’t see. If there’s something she doesn’t like, we toss it immediately. The Design Consultation is about collaborating, editing and making decisions.
I tried to find at least a few dress images that were on models that had a figure close to Michelle’s body type. Givenchy’s muse was Audrey Hepburn. Knowing that Michelle liked Givenchy, I tried to find his style on someone with a curvier figure, rather than Audrey’s waif shape. I began looking at Christina Hendricks from “Mad Men”. Michelle is not shaped exactly like Christina (Who is? Her figure is incredible!) but the fact that she is busty and plays a secretary in the 1950s, really got me inspired by her style on the show. I found this image as a top contender for Michelle:
The reason this became a top choice is that it seemed like a beautiful transition from the original draped ball gown idea that Michelle asked for in the Initial Consultation, to the new ideas that she had for her pencil-skirted shift. I thought it would flatter her figure and be really comfortable to wear on her wedding day. We’d definitely change aspects of it (I do not directly copy anyone else’s designs.) But I felt that this was a good choice for a jumping off point of inspiration. So did Michelle!
When I showed her the 50+ images that I pulled as inspirations for dress designs, I did not tell her what I liked best. I wanted to see her initial reactions to things. (I do not take it personally if you put my favorite in the “NO” pile) Like me, this image was one of her top choices. This let me know that I was definitely on the right page.
But this “Mad Men” design does not have the Roland Mouret structured sleekness that she also really loved, and I didn’t think adding structured elements in this dress would look very good. I decided to do two designs for her and let her pick: A Draped Design inspired by the image above, and a Sleek Design inspired by several Roland Mouret images that we chose.
I pulled some Dior images and images from vintage Vogue pattern covers that featured pencil-skirt dresses with added fullness and length in the back. I thought this was a really fun idea for a short wedding dress. It is sort of a ‘tip of the hat’ to a traditional wedding train on an otherwise non-traditional dress. We decided that I would add this element somehow to each of her sketches.
After our meeting at my studio/home in Hillsborough, we took our favorite images to Mulberry Silks and looked at fabrics. They have amazing fabrics there! We ended up liking several silk blends that were in their Special Order books. We even discussed adding a splash of color to her white wedding dress. She told me that she loves pink! We chose a ballet pink to just peek out from the back of the “train” detail as a color surprise.
By the end of our meeting, I felt like I had a really good idea of what Michelle wanted for her dress designs.
Over the next week, I took our research images and created two one-of-a-kind custom sketches for her to choose from. I created a Design Proposal via her very own little website to display and share the information. Along with the proposal, I emailed her my Couture Creation Contract and a Price Estimate to review and anxiously waited to hear her thoughts!!
You can view Michelle’s full Design Proposal with sketches, descriptions and our favorite inspiration images by clicking here.
Which design is your favorite?