The Process of Gown Creation

couture

noun

  1. The design and manufacture of fashionable clothes to a client’s specific requirements and measurements.

“Designer ready-to-wear has taken over from couture as the focus of interest”

Fashionable made-to-measure clothes.

Sometimes people ask me what ‘couture’ is. I’ve defined it above, and I am essentially a couturier. I’m able to take my clients on a journey whilst creating their unique gowns from conception to completion. The journey is exciting, and fun! I recently undertook the journey with ‘Justine’. (insert pic of Justine)

Like most of my encounters, our first point of contact is usually via a phone call or an email. Justine was asked to send an image of the gown she had in mind to give me some initial insight into what she was looking for. I then book an obligation free consultation time with the client.

The first consultation usually lasts 1-2hours. The prospective bride comes armed with 1-4 images of what she envisages herself wearing on the day of her wedding.  I will assess her figure and establish what she likes and dislikes about her body (women can be so often critical of their bodies).

We discuss the design to establish exactly what she is wanting, sometimes it is a combination of 2-3 images,  then I proceed to sketch out the design advising what will work on her body and what will not. The aim is always to create a design that is going to best show her assets and minimise her dislikes and of course, her personality. In Justine’s case we wanted to highlight her beautiful curves.

Throughout the whole process we bounce off each other until we are both satisfied with the final design, and I always leave room for small design adjustments as the gown progresses. I then proceed to show samples of all fabric options for the design, most of these are European silks and French laces. Shades vary from white to beige to bright colours!  All this is recorded then placed in a cover sleeve and travels with the gown in progress at all stages.  A clear picture is painted of the procedure ahead so the client is fully conversant as to what to expect. Payment options are advised then all fittings appointments are pre-booked. Sometimes the client is advised to think about the design overnight, just to make sure she is 100% happy with it.

Once the deposit is paid, materials are ordered!  The first fitting is often done in the lining (if the design is very complex a calico tulle is done first).The aim is to perfect the fit as once this is done the pattern can be adjusted accordingly. The continuity of fit will be set in place and this pattern is used to develop the remainder of the design layers. It is the lining that is structured and shaped to hold everything in place. This is the foundation. Somewhat similar to the construction of a building!

Once the lining pattern is adjusted, the next pattern is developed the main gown is cut out in silk then sewn up. Once on the bride, the lining is perfected further then main gown is layered over top. This is then fitted accordingly. Clients are encouraged to voice any concerns at any point. If lace is involved a lay of this will be thrown over the top and shaped to give the bride insight to the next phase.

Often there will be other fittings with the main gown as it comes together in stages. This is where the shape is improved further as the design takes on the next dimension.

The pattern is taken to the next level and the lace is cut out and run up.  Then the final layer is added to the gown which is moulded on the body to perfection. By now the gown has taken shape and is looking complete. Final adjustments are made. Any minor changes that the bride desires are done at this point.

The gown is then completed. Any final “tweaking” with minor imperfections are noted/ recorded then completed prior to pick up. If the bride and I are satisfied at this appointment the bride is able to take the gown home.

The amount of fittings is usually 4-5 for a Bridal gown, 3-4 for evening gown.

My favourite part is pick up! The client such as Justine tries on the gown one last time for every ones satisfaction, then the gown is covered and carried out lovingly to the future Bride’s car where it is carefully hung and laid in the back seat ready for its journey home.

About Author – Angelina Arcaro Price is the Proprietor of Arcaro Couture which creates unique bridal and evening wear for all women.