Over the years I have been asked the same question by many brides, ‘I’m getting married, where do I start?’
I am a father of 2 beautiful, married daughters. Both had an easy time selecting their fabrics, styles and makers, as Dad is in the business and he knows the in’s and outs. I will endeavour to make it easier for you too. I know it may seem daunting and difficult when you don’t know where to start. I hope to help relieve you of the bridal gown stress so many have!
As I have been in the business for many years, I wanted to share the following information with all those needing a sound starting point to make the experience more enjoyable.
It can be daunting and confusing going through countless magazines, searching the internet, looking at Instagram for the perfect dress, wondering should I wear this style? Will I look like this? Will I look like that? Just the thought of it exhausts me, I know how you feel!
The first thing to consider is, do you want to purchase your gown off the rack or do you want a custom bespoke couture gown and importantly, what is the difference?
So, let’s get started:
1 / Off the rack: You try on a sample gown, this gown is imported and altered to fit your body.
Off the rack gowns are very rarely made in Australia, most of them are manufactured in bulk off shore and imported as ordered. You would try on a sample in store (they normally only carry one – two sizes in each style). Once you have selected the dress you want, your measurements are taken and the size closest to your measurements is ordered (normally slightly larger to allow for alterations). These alterations can sometimes change the visual dynamic of the dress.
It’s a common misconception that the gown is made specifically to your measurements. This is not the case. Nearly always, alterations are needed, usually at an additional cost depending on what needs to be done. Its important to keep in mind that what you see and what you get may not always be the same. Another important point to remember when going down this avenue, if you need more fabric (some sleeves or fullness to the skirt), the exact fabrics may not be available and this could leave you having to choose something different or forgoing the change altogether.
2/ Custom couture (bespoke): Simply means made-to-measure. Unique in that its tailored especially for you and your likes. No two dresses are ever the same, as no two people are. All bridal and evening wear designers prefer to create a bespoke gown.
You need to feel comfortable with your choice of maker, the budget and the style. There are many reputable designers/makers, some work from a shop front, some from a studio and some from home. It is important to talk to him or her first. Do not make any decisions or purchases BEFORE you have engaged/consulted with your maker of choice.
Upon meeting with the maker that you have personally selected, they will guide you with style and fabric choices. Many gowns are quality specific, so it is imperative that the fabrics chosen will be able to give you the style and look you desire because they will help create the gown of your dreams.
Some designers have different gowns available in store for you to view or try on, helping to determine the style you like the most and a silhouette that is most flattering to your figure. You may like to work with the designer to personally adapt one of their styles you viewed, or the designer can create something from scratch with the details you desire. A gown designed and made, specifically for you, usually gives the best and most flattering fit. Once you have decided on your style the gown pattern is made, and the gown is made up in calico for your first fitting.
Important note: the designer alone is the person you should refer to when you are wanting an all up costing of your gown, as they are the expert and are privy to all the hidden costs.
Choosing your fabrics for your bespoke gown:
Many will suggest you go looking at fabrics based on your style. The designer will be able to guide you toward the correct types of fabric for your gown. It is suggested you touch and feel fabrics – the Tylers Fabrics showroom is specifically designed for this purpose and allows you to play with the fabrics in a relaxed environment. If you are not wanting the traditional Natural or White, we have a large range of colours so you are bound to find one you love.
When shopping around for fabric, do lots of research, and know what you want. Bridal silks and laces are expensive by nature and a hasty choice can be very costly, especially if the fabrics selected are not suitable to your desired style or you have a change of mind. Once a fabric has been cut for you, generally, it cannot be returned.
Where does my fabric come from?
There are many illusions regarding silk and laces. Here are some facts:
Silk: 65% of the world’s best silk is produced in China, the balance is produced throughout Asia; and small amount in Brazil. There is no current production of silk yarn in Europe as there is no mulberry, (silk worm food), produced in Europe, (reference: Como Silk Museum Italy). There has been no silk yarn production in Italy since the 1960’s. All commercial silks are imported in undyed goods, mainly from China (undyed goods) then dyed or printed in Europe.
French lace: All laces are produced in web form as this is the only way lace can be made. This means all laces produced are in multiples of 6, 8, 12 or 16 pieces per design, depending on width. No machine lace can be produced in individual pieces (one off). There are only 11 lace manufacturers in France, all produce their lace the same way. The hand feel is fine and delicate.
Italian lace: Same principle of production as French lace, but in Italy.
Chinese lace: The quality is very good, it is used by many international bridal designs and is aimed for the more budget conscious. These laces are ideal for heavy beading as they are more robust in feel.
Embroideries: These are tulle grounds which have the design embroidered into the tulle, different to lace. Majority is produced to a high international standard in China and Taiwan.
Beading: The Indians are regarded as the world’s best beaders. I send all laces to trusted beaders in India. The costing of the beadwork is based on the design and intricacy, as well as the quality of beads. All our beaded laces are made to the Tylers requirement and to our strict quality standards.
In closing, I have 4 beautiful granddaughters (I am biased), hopefully I will be around to participate with the selection of their fabrics and styles for wedding gowns, but if I am not, I hope they read this and the whole process is made easier and more enjoyable because of it.
I hope the above helps to clarify some of the mysteries that surround having your dress made versus off the rack and any misconceptions of couture textiles.
Whichever way you choose to go, it should be a fun journey to your dream gown.
– Michael Tyler