Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Process and The Gown

(photo from Cathryn Farnsworth)

I am extremely pleased to say that the bride I made a custom gown for has been featured on the popular blog east side bride. There is one post summing up the wedding and a second post in which the bride details the story of having a dress custom made. She also has several posts about it on her own, very fun-to-read blog life according to celia. So this seemed like a wonderful opening for me to describe the process.

A former colleague of mine from the Los Angeles Opera costume shop contacted me to say that a bride-to-be had gotten in touch with her to make her gown. This friend of mine now lives in Nashville, and referred the project to me. My background is in costume design for theatre, so I approached the design process as if I was designing for a play. In theatre, the costume designer reads the play, conferences with the director, and takes the design concepts of the set and lights into consideration all while evaluating the character the design is for and how to express that character through the clothing they wear. In many ways, a wedding isn't a far stretch from a theatrical piece. The characters are the bride, groom, and wedding party. The set is the location, and the bride is definitely the director! The collaboration results in a design that is unique to the bride, physically flattering, complimentary to the surroundings and expressive of the bride's personality.

I asked Celia to send me pictures related to her wedding, what accessories she had, anything that inspired her. From my point of view, nothing was irrelevant.
She also sent me images of what her bridesmaids would be wearing, and images of dresses she liked.

The top right dress was the main look she liked, with the back pictured top left. She also like the capelet-look of the bottom right image. She said she liked the dress on the bottom left because it reminded her of a cupcake and she told me she wanted an empire waist gown so she could enjoy her meal on her wedding day. And she added that she wanted to try to do something with ruffling down the back because her fiance enjoys a more simple, streamlined aesthetic, while she likes things a bit more textured and ornate. She also told me that she almost exclusively wears vintage clothing. I was getting really excited at this point!

Based on what I had seen and discussed with her, I presented her with a few images and ideas of my own at our design consultation.
We talked a lot, and the design changed here and there over the course of our process together. Our first meeting was a design consultation and measurement session. The second meeting we had was to go fabric shopping in Downtown L.A. Later we met for a muslin mock-up fitting and then had a few more fittings after that. And this was the end product (which I believe Celia once called a "vintage lace cupcake")...

The gown was made of a pearl white silk taffeta underlayer with a champagne silk chiffon overlayer. The train is trimmed with ruffles made from eleven antique laces found on ebay. A vintage lace applique adorns the front of the bodice with more antique lace gracing the neckline. The gown also features embroidered organza trim and pleated taffeta trim.

It was a great pleasure to make and I couldn't have asked for a more unique, beautiful, fun bride to work with! I am sure Celia and her husband will live a long, happy life together and I feel honored to have played a small part in the day that bonded them together!


  1. Congratulations Lindsey! What a beautiful creation! And as you mentioned, I visited the other blogspot, and saw familiar faces for the bridesmaids- all of the Summer Darling band girls! Awesome!
    The dress is amazing. All the best,

  2. beautiful! lovely work. looks like some other anonymous folks are interested in your work... go go sweatshop lindsey!!
    -yer bro

  3. That is an awesome dress! I'm totally loving the romantic vibe it casts.

  4. Beautiful and so creative Lindsey. And an unbelievable deal considering all your visits, fabric searches, creative genius and labor! Not to mention the pleasure of being around your sweet self.
    Caroline Abram


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