Jill was able to obtain both of her husband's grandmother's wedding dresses to use in new creations for herself. The dress from her husband's grandmother's first marriage at the turn of the 20th century we used in Jill's wedding dress; the dress from the second marriage circa 1940s we decided to use for Jill's rehearsal dinner dress.
I cleaned and restored the lace, and we did a serious of dyeing experiments before deciding on a pretty mauve shade that complemented Jill's complexion.
Very few alterations were necessary on the dress (which goes to show how tiny Jill is!) She had a black slip dress that worked perfectly under the lace dress, and we added a black velvet ribbon as a contrast at the empire waist. In addition to the beautiful dress, Jill had also obtained a bolero jacket, which we dyed the same colour.
As founder and editor-in-chief of green design blog Inhabitat, Jill was only willing to go the sustainable route with her wedding attire. In addition to sourcing minimal impact materials, we wanted to design a dress indicative of Jill's sophisticated style, in a silhouette that was fun and fresh, and also re-wearable. We first started by exploring fabric options such as organic cotton tulles and silks, such as the below.
Jill was then offered her fiance's grandmother's Victorian wedding dress from circa 1900, which was a beautiful lace gown, completely deteriorated in most sections, but intact in others. Jill had already decided that she did not want a full-length gown, but I had to make sure that we had enough material from the vintage gown to create even a knee-length dress! Through careful cutting and efficient patternmaking, I was just able to make it work, utilizing the lace's scallop edges at the neckline and asymmetrical hemline of the dress.
The lace needed to be carefully cleaned and restored back to its original colour, as pictured below.
We both love the colour green, and decided on a hand-dyed ombre (green with a gradation from light to dark) silk charmeuse for the underlayer of the dress. From my collection of vintage lace trims, we selected one to use for the straps, which I dyed using green tea to match the ivory of the dress lace.
The wedding and reception were held in San Francisco's beautiful Presidio Park, which tends to become cool at night, so we made a custom bolero jacket in a matching green to cover Jill's arms.
Brooke fell in love with a re-embroidered lace she found while perusing a fabric store with her mom in her midwest hometown. She came to me with the lace to design and create her wedding dress. We decided to contrast the white lace against a slightly darker fabric to show off its floral pattern, and to better flatter Brooke's complexion. We chose a luxurious, drapy double-sided silk satin for the underlayer to give the dress movement. After some experimentation, I washed and dyed the silk, resulting in a mocha shade with a super-soft suede-like hand.
For the neckline, Brooke wanted something with straps and coverage in the front, but was open to the idea of a low back. We utilized the scallop edge of the lace to detail the straps, front & back neckline, and hem. We wanted a long and elegant silhouette, with a flowy skirt and slight train. Since I was working with a pre-bought amount of fabric at a narrow width (characteristic of fine lace), I cut the pattern to maximize the fabric usage by adding skirt godets into all of the seams for added fullness at the hem.
Lisa brought me the wedding dress of her grandmother, who had previously passed, in the hopes that I could incorporate the fabric in some way into her own gown. She had her doubts, however, because her grandmother's dress had not been cleaned post-use, and endured a long life in a heavy smoker's house. While the lace itself had not deteriorated, the discoloration was one of the worst cases I had seen - completely yellowed and brown. I dismantled the dress and went to work cleaning the lace. Several days of intense stench-and-stain-releasing soaks, much to our surprise, resulted in a pure, bright white!
Based on the design of her grandmother's dress, there was not enough lace available to use as the primary fabric, but we worked it into the design by inserting into the front neckline and the many skirt godets. We paired the lace with white silk duchess satin and silk chiffon. The silhouette I designed for Lisa focused on a low back, with soft, sheer straps, an empire waistline, and a full fit-and-flare skirt.
When Marcia first contacted me over email about having her custom wedding dress made, she provided many descriptors as to how she wanted to feel in her gown. To name a few: graceful, fun, elegant, sexy, playful, feminine, unique, and goddess-like. She was a slightly older bride who, while wanting to dress age-appropriately, was not afraid to have a gown that exuded youthfulness, and even fantasy. When I met Marcia and her then-fiance, Andy in person, it was immediately apparent how much life radiated from within each of them, and how completely in love they were with one another. Andy attended every fitting with enthusiasm and engagement, supporting any decision Marcia and I made during the process.
Having previously tried on some gowns at wedding salons, Marcia was appalled at how many "high-end" dresses were lined in nasty synthetic fabrics. She was very adamant about using only natural fibres in her dress, which is standard for me anyway. To achieve a soft and flowing silhouette, we selected a light-weight silk tissue chiffon for the draped and gathered overlay, and a supple silk double-sided satin for the underlayer. The neckline I designed was a wide-v in the front and low in the back, with off-the shoulder straps, to provide a sexy, yet comfortable, look. We highlighted Marcia's tiny waist with a fitted bodice, releasing the pleats at the hips for more ease and comfort through the skirt.