We have now seen it everywhere, applied to everything, even cookies. The actual meaning of couture is design and manufacture of fashionable clothes to a client’s specific requirements and measurements. Back in the day, all wedding gowns were “couture”, which usually came with a hefty price tag. It still does and for some, and worth every penny.
The value of a couture gown is not always in the cost. Every bride I was honored to design gowns for, were not interested in cost, although it was important, it was the specialness of their history and creativity, that made all the difference.
For some of my brides, couture rested in their cultural identity. An African American bride who was marrying her Kenyan husband….even though they had been together for 10 years and were raising their two children, in Seattle. Asked me to use the fabric she brought back from Africa in the gown. It was embroidered with gold threads on a cream colored cotton, that I paired with silk shantung. Although it had been 10 years for a BIG fancy wedding, it did not diminish her vision. For her, it was worth the wait.
On another occasion, I received an order for a dress from the shop Soliloquy Bridal in Herndon, Virginia. The bride loved the patchwork silk shantung gown, which was embellished with buttons and beads, but she wanted parts of her grandmother’s fabric and lace incorporated in the patchwork in the gown. She also wanted a pocket in the side seam, but on only the right side. I never found out why but it was her request and it was honored.
Not every bride’s wedding gown journey has to do with style. Some have personal reasons for shopping in a more private setting. Another client comes to mind, a young lady with a medical condition that created three dementia scars. So the dress and the fabric, could not irritate her and she didn’t want the scars visible through the fabric. Plus she still wanted the dress to be sexy, fitted and made from silk. In a private setting, the gown designer is able to make the bride comfortable and special. She was happy and that’s all that mattered.
The last bride I will highlight had an Audrey Hepburn inspiration. However, the wedding was diverse in design and love. The bride was Japanese American, the Groom was Jewish. She made the cake platters (she was also a ceramist) and she made one of her cakes served at the east side Art Gallery as we noshed on sushi and Greek hors-d’oeuvres. The guests enjoyed the folksy music of banjo and guitarist. This unique and creative wedding could only be enhanced by a made to measure blue silk taffeta two-piece dress.
The made to measure journey is not only french seams, hand rolled hems and Italian laces. It’s an exploration of ideas, cultural ties, and even special needs. Couture origins may have begun in an Atelier in France, but it’s so much more.