Monday, November 12, 2012

Marianne and Andreas, 1 September 2012

all photos by
Marianne was planning her September wedding that was just outside of Paris from New York. She was such a relaxed bride that I'd sometimes get confused. It turned out that one of her oldest and dearest friends is a wedding planner in France. No wonder she was so relaxed! 

In addition to going all the way to France to get married, she was willing to come to my Brooklyn studio for every fitting from the very top of Manhattan!

It was so fun working with her. She was very clear about what she wanted. Something fun and blue that she could wear again that would travel well. I love what we came up with. We reinvented the train together! (You can see it above, moving around in the front!) I also created for her a matching fascinator using the fabric, lace and buttons from her dress.

Here's to you, Marianne and Andreas! Many happy adventures!  Vivez le voyage!!

(all these beautiful wedding photos are by!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Samantha in Liska! 9-7-12

Photo by me at their wedding, 9-7-12

I've known Samantha for a couple of years. When she got engaged to Alfonso, I was really excited. They are a rare couple, they're the couple that have actually been together for what seems like forever but act a little bit like they just met.

Sam is an Interior Designer and we've always had great conversations about design. So I was also really excited to discuss her wedding dress with her! She must have tried on 50 dresses. There were lots of conversations about the aspects we liked and didn't like.

We started really excited about the fabric we found, this amazingly light ivory hammered silk and the shape, a simple strapless trumpet shape. We thought this would be really flattering on her petite frame and make her feel like a bride.

 As we went along, it felt like there was something missing, something to make it more specifically her and this is what we came up with, an asymmetrical pleating that starts at the neckline and turns into a side train.  When we started this we loved it, and then thought it was too much across the body... Late one night we went back and forth via text messages looking at photos from our last fitting, until finally we both realized we were describing the same thing. I sketched out the little drawing above and sent it to her. I think I might have even said, "You sleep on it and make sure it's right. But as your designer, this is the perfect solution!"

Photo by Joe Tanis
Photo by Joe Tanis

There's a moment designing a dress for someone when you know it's exactly the right thing. In our next fitting when she could see the way the side train fell, it was so exciting, we all had goose bumps!

Photo by me
Photo by Joe Tanis

Technically, this dress is the Liska dress from my You Will Have Your Cake and Eat It Too line. And this is exactly the kind of customizing I get really excited about. Changing the fabric and adding these details, the lace at the waistline, it's really exciting to see something come up that looks so perfect for one woman.

When she came to pick up the dress, Joe was able to do a Wedding Portrait of her. (The beautiful studio shots are all his!)

It was so fun to work with you Samantha, congratulations to you and Alfonso! I'm so excited for you both! I know you'll have many many years of happiness ahead, and I did promise to baby sit your future children at least once! :)


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Brooklyn Bridge photo shoot

Last month I had the pleasure of working with Asia and Shiv, the Wedding Photography team that makes up Voue Image. Asia and Shiv created a really fun wedding photo shot on the Brooklyn Bridge. Check out more of their work on their wedding photography website.

I was happy to be the stylist and use one of my samples for our bride. The wind totally participated in showing the drama of our really long veil.

I can't wait to see the whole photo story! I'll share it as soon as it's ready. For now we have these little behind scenes images of getting everything ready!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Works in Progress

Photos by Joe Tanis
It's been fairly hectic the last fews weeks, (hence the quiet on the blog front) and there are some things that I've been finishing up that I can't wait to share with you. Alas, the Bride always gets to make her debut before I get to share anything with you!

In the meantime, here's some of my works in progress. Joe Tanis always takes the best photos of things I'm working on.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bridesmaids Dresses, a study.

Photos by Joe Tanis

 I've watched 27 dresses, (it's actually really funny, don't judge me) and there were some amazing dresses in that movie, all of them terrible. I learned, that most of these dresses were bought for this movie! They were made ON PURPOSE to sell to the public, not just dreamed up by a costume designer challenged to make 27 terrible dresses!

We all know these dresses have a really bad rap. As a designer, I've given this a lot of thought, why are they so often unattractive? And when they are really great, why doesn't anyone say anything about it? You'd think it would be similar to seeing a unicorn. You want it to be true, cute dresses that could be worn again! And yet they get so little attention.

There is something about the "Bridesmaid Dress" that just has a specific look to it. I haven't figured out why that is.

In full disclosure, the only times I've been a bridesmaid, it's been for my siblings and I designed my own dress, (theirs too) so the only person I had to complain to about what I was wearing was myself (I'm a designer, it happens).

Pictured is the outfit I designed to be a "bridesmaid" or bridesmaid-like (it was a nontraditional wedding) for my brother's wedding. And remarkably, I have worn it again (not always together). I love this outfit. It's a corset with a circle skirt with pockets. It was really fun to wear. (It was also 103 degrees that day and really difficult to breathe in this corset.)

Now, I'm in the happy position to be inviting people to stand up for me, and I'm totally stumped! How to make something lovely, (nursing friendly) practical, flattering and affordable. Oh! and that hopefully that they can wear again. Okay, go!

Thoughts? I'm open to suggestions.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Christina's Fourth of July Wedding!

I'm not always invited to the weddings I design dresses for, in this case however, the Bride is a good friend of mine and Joe's (who took all these beautiful images!)For this wedding, not only were we invited, I was also invited to help her get ready. 

Their love story is really so touching. Christina and her now husband John, met in the 80's, back then, they were together for years and John actually proposed. However, she said no. They broke up, John moved away. Then 25 years later, they were back in touch, and he proposed AGAIN! and this time, she said YES!

Really it was such an honor to be present for a day that was so long in coming.

Anyway, since I was going to be there, we decided to put the final ironing off until the day of, so her cotton sateen dress would be as fresh as possible. Since the groom was still present when we arrived, I was ironing in her bathroom so he couldn't see the dress! (You know this is a nice New York apartment when there is room for an ironing board in the bathroom! Christina is an architect.)

And I was able to add the last finishing detail, a silk organza and haboti flower to the neckline/collar.

Here's her dress, a beautiful lilac cotton sateen with cotton voile sleeves, the collar and cuffs were silk organza.

The Bride! We choose cotton for this dress since they planned their fourth of July wedding in Central Park. It's always a challenge to be comfortable and look lovely when it's hot outside, but I think we found a great balance.

Jessica the hair and make-up stylist and I collaborated on fixing Christina's veil, sometimes the best thing for veils like this is to just work the tulle into the hair style and fix it with hair pins. For her veil, somehow I'd found vintage silk birdcage tulle the exact color of her dress. We decided to layer this lilac tulle on an ivory tulle and keep them together. It really created a great color. I love layering tulles, it reminds me of watercolors.

You can tell Christina trusted me, as I cut away the ends of the tulle while it was already fixed in her hair!

And here is the happy couple! before and after the wedding! It's true that when you're truly happy, it doesn't matter how hot it is outside! It also seems to be true, that when two people belong together, they will end up together... :) Don't they just look so lovely?! 

Then a few days later, they hosted a lovely reception. For this, we took some pieces she found and rebuilt them, they turned out so well. This outfit is almost like an old fashioned trousseau, now she has some great summer pieces to go out on the town with her new husband!

Here's to many years of much joy and love to come! Cheers Christina and John!

Archive, Jenn's Emmy Dress

I posted photos of Jenn in this dress when she originally wore it, but she was kindly willing to be photographed in it in the studio for my archives.

It was 2 years ago that I designed this dress for her trip to the Emmy's, but I still love this dress! And this color!
As always, Joe Tanis takes such beautiful images..... :)

Sara's Wedding Fascinator

Sara arriving for her wedding!

I just got this photo of Sara arriving for her wedding. I love this photo of her! Full of excitement and love (and maybe a little nervousness?). I also love that she choose a grey dress! For her fascinator, she made me a Pinterest page of things she liked and the main colors of her bouquet. 

Since she was wearing grey, I covered the headband with grey silk, then for the flowers, I worked with pale pale green, gold and ivory fabrics and some sweet white feathers. Sara lives in Texas, so we did the whole thing via email. I'm so flattered that she trusted me to work out the colors and proportion from so far away! It worked out well, yes? 

I couldn't be happier for Sara and her groom! And hopefully she'll be able to wear her fascinator again! 

her fascinator

Thursday, June 28, 2012

You Will Have Your Cake and Eat It Too, update!

Right before we all went on vacation, I had a fitting with Katie, my model for You Will Have Your Cake and Eat It Too! This is the beginning of the line! 
Katie was good enough to come to the studio on a day that was getting pretty warm and was then willing to try on these samples while Joe took photos of the process.

Getting to work like this is super indulgent for me, it's pretty exciting. I've always loved to explore what the fabric will do in any particular design. It almost feels like cheating, "The fabric told me it wanted to do that! I just listened..." .
This dress is one I designed a while ago, I keep making little or not so little changes and rebuilding it. I know fashion trends tend to move very quickly, but I've always been inspired by the idea of things/styles/silhouettes that have a longer life.

Years ago I read an interview with Isabel Toledo, she said, some of her designs she would wear for years before she'd add them to her line. She wanted to make sure they worked and that they would last. (I named my first dress form Isabelle after her.) I just loved that idea, of living with a design to see if it works.

I also just finished a great biography on Coco Chanel, Chanel; A Woman of Her Own by Axel Madsen and Chanel had a similar philosophy on design. She was always refining what worked, what was elegant and comfortable. And who really was chicer then Chanel?!

 So, here we are! I'm working on the fit and the right construction, what needs bones and what doesn't. I'm loving working with colors and pushing the ideas of what colors make great wedding and party clothes.

What do you think? Here's to more Cake! cheers!
All photos by Joe Tanis Photography

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interstellar Songbook!

Last summer, I was contacted by a friend of a friend in need of a dress to wear on the cover of her soon to be released CD.

We had such a great time working on this "costume".  Joanne Weaver is an amazing singer, I won't try to explain what her music is like because I'm not fluent in music at all. But, her fashion style is totally inspired by the sultry styles from the 40's. And that era makes my heart flutter a little faster too! So we had a great combination of using that inspiration and still wanting to make her look a little like a star filled midnight sky...... (with great legs!)

The Intersteller Songbook is now here! If your in NY, check her out this weekend in person! If your not in NY, check her out via social media from her links below..

and yep! that's the dress on the cover! :)

Joanne Weaver Interstellar Songbook, CD Release Party

Joanne Weaver
Interstellar Songbook
CD Release Party
Saturday, June 2nd
Doors at 7pm
Show starts promptly at 8pm
80 St Mark's Place
New York, NY

$20 + $5 service fee

Each guest will receive a complimentary CD
and free entrance to after party.
We kindly ask that you buy your tickets in advance.
Buy Tickets Here
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Creative Collaborations

I love collaborations. I think I've mentioned this before. It's part of the reason why I love designing custom dresses, clothes and tiny hats. I love that interaction between an event, the person going to the event and me.

You can imagine that I also love bigger creative collaborations, photo shoots involving other artists and designers, collaborations with other designers, other communities... like, my Kickstarter community. While my "You Will Have Your Cake and Eat it too" Backers have been endlessly patient waiting for me to finally release the finished designs, I have been really struck by how much a community makes a difference.

collaboration between Hair Artist Cynthia Torres and Photographer Joe Tanis

So, my new collaborative effort is the photo shoot for "You Will Have Your Cake and Eat it too." Using other local creative professionals, we'll all bring our best talents together and see what we come up with. One of the coolest parts about getting to work with other creatives, is getting to see how every one's input helps to tell the story and move it forward.

One of my sisters got so excited when I started telling her about this photo shoot collaboration, she works in Arts and Education Development (my siblings are all brilliant.) And she said, that collaborative teams like this is what the world is moving towards and it's how they are finding that people work successfully together. Really, they are cutting edge. So fancy that! Here's to cutting edge collaborations!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Real Wedding on Snippet and Ink!

I just discovered one of my favorite Brides from last year was listed on a wedding blog and it really show cases how lovely the bride and groom really are!

They danced a Tango! so beautiful!

See the whole post and they're story (which is so lovely and romantic) here. They're actually coming up on their first anniversary, what a nice way to revisit such a beautiful wedding and joyous celebration . .  Happy Anniversary Karolina and Wayne!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fascinating You . . .

We thought it was very light and airy but still had a nice drama.
 This is long overdue.

In April, Urban Girl Squad and I put together a Raffle to for winning a custom made fascinator. And happily, we had a winner!

Our winner, Kristen, brought herself and  her friend Adi all the way from the Upper East Side to my Brooklyn Studio (such a commitment!) on a lovely Saturday afternoon and had a little champagne, while we worked out this design.

Here's the winner with her friend Adi.
These are my new favorite kinds of feathers.
It was really fun, everything I love about doing collaborative custom work. She sent me some photos of fascinators and tiny hats that she liked and could also see herself wearing. Which is key, there are so many great hats out there, but there are some that even though I think they are amazing, I can't really imagine wearing it. She was the same.. despite our shared love of giant plumes.

And here she is in her fascinator!

And then we just hung out and looked at lots little pieces of feathers and fabric.

 So this is what we came up with, what do you think? I hope Kristen was able to wear it out for Kentucky Derby Day!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another Rant, Why your dress does cost that much.

In my FB news feed today I saw a link to an NPR story called, Why Did My Wedding Dress Cost So Much?, as a wedding dress designer, I clicked on it and watched the 5 min video of the story.

In full disclosure I am a bit of an NPR addict. I wake up to WNYC and listen pretty much everyday, I'm a sustaining member of WNYC. And I loove Planet Money. Well, I was shocked and disappointed by now disappointing her story was and shocked and disappointed by the lack of actual reporting that she did.

She took her wedding dress to B & J (one of my favorite fabric stores) to research the cost of the materials and then she took it to a tailor to investigate the estimated cost of the dress construction in China. What she learned was the wholesale of the fabric likely cost about $500 and the making of the garment (what we call Cut, Make and Trim or CMT for short) was likely about $200.

From my experience her experts were right, I would totally agree. But that's when she decided that the dress should have cost about $1500 instead of the $2800 it did cost. And she felt ripped off.

I object.

There is so much that goes into a garment then just the materials and the CMT.

There is a person sitting at a desk somewhere that has an idea and sketches it out and edits it with a design team. There is a team of people that work to get the garment produced, and a different team that makes sure the dress fits. All this likely happens in an office, that pays rent. And all this happens before that dress even makes it to the Shop where she tried it on. Keep in mind that this dress was likely designed not in China and then manufactured in China and shipped on a boat to the states. None of that is free.

In that shop where she tried it on, there are people that work there, someone that owes the store and rents the space and picks what they will carry for the season. There was the salesperson that showed her the dress and helped her pick it out.

All these people are working. All these people are contributing to the design, production, sale of the dress and her experience. And instead of including that into the cost of her dress, she equated the cost of her dress as people selling her a beautiful memory.

While it may be true that many people make money in the wedding industry, and it may be true that some people over price things because they think they can, "say the W word and the price triples". In this case, it actually sounds like she got a bargain. Not ripped off.

There are no shortage of options for wedding attire, but someone designed a dress she wanted. And then a bazillion people brought that idea to fruition. (I didn't even mention the designer that designed the lace fabric that the dress designers picked out for that dress.) Maybe instead of making an article about how the industry trespassed on her emotions and sold her memories, she could write an article about how many people she actually helped to support in a struggling to recover world economy. Because that is what she actually did.

Rant over. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Figure Flaws: a Rant.

Having recently gotten engaged, I have a whole new perspective on my job. It’s part of my job to read and look at bridal magazines. But now that I’m looking at them as a bride, I started seeing things I’ve previously dismissed: all the articles about hiding my figure flaws and finding the right dress to hid my figure flaws. Yuck. Figure flaws. That does not sound fun.

I don’t like the term ‘figure flaws’. In fact, it offends me.

Now, I understand that not all women are 100% in love with their figures all the time. But figure flaws? That's just rude. It assumes that it’s a given, it assumes the viewer doesn’t accept her figure. It assumes there is something about the bride that is flawed and must be hidden. There are so many beautiful women in the world, for what reason are we focusing on flaws? And why do we even call them that?! What’s with the implication that having curves or not having curves or being tall or short is a flaw? The only thing inclusive in that kind of thinking is that we are all flawed. This is just an observation but even women that don’t look like Gisele are beautiful.

Your figure isn’t flawed.

There might be things you love about your figure more then other things. Okay. So instead of calling the things you like less ‘flaws’, can we all agree to discuss instead the things you want to show off, the things you love? I’m completely in support of finding the dress that works for your body, we all look and feel better in some things then other things. Let’s talk about what you feel awesome wearing. Do you feel like Joan Holloway when you wear a pencil skirt? Fantastic! Do you feel feminine and sexy in a ball gown? Fantastic! Let’s start there.

I’ve had well-meaning friends suggest that I wear a padded bra to my wedding, thinking I guess that a padded bra would create some kind of cleavage. Um, I don’t have cleavage, with or without a padded bra. I know this kind of discussion comes up among friends even if there isn’t a wedding coming up. I would just like to suggest a different perspective in this conversation. My fiancĂ© knew what I looked like when he proposed. He accepted me ‘warts and all’, as the saying goes. I would like to suggest that yours did too. And wouldn’t this whole process be more fun if the conversation was about what makes you feel the most beautiful? And happy?

Women of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds fall in love and get married everyday. Love doesn’t discriminate against different bodies types. Wedding dresses shouldn’t either. Love is inclusive.  Dresses can be too.

I saw a quote in the April issue of Vogue from Alber Elbaz, the fabulous designer of Lanvin in Paris that said, “When I think of women, I don’t think of size or age, I think of beauty.”

I say yes, of course, exactly! And thank you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Well hello strangers. I've been neglectful of this blog. So where to start to sum up?

Basically, I fell in love. Am in love....

December was a wild kind of month, I was working on a bunch of custom projects and I launched and completed my You Will Have Your Cake and Eat it too Campaign on Kickstarter. As soon as that finished, I went with my most amazing boyfriend to meet his family for the holidays. We came back to Brooklyn and as I was mulling over my New Years ideas and new designs, my most amazing boyfriend put a ring on my finger.

We met at my sister's kitchen table. But we became friends working on photo shoots together. See above.

(me plus Joe!)

I'm now finding myself in the most interesting place as a wedding dress designer. I've been designing and sketching lots of dresses for the You Will Have Your Cake and Eat it too collection. But now, I'm also thinking about what a bride might want from a brand new place.

Will I design and make my own dress? Yes. Will it be white/ivory/cream? No. One of my top commitments in designing dresses for weddings, has always been that people end up feeling and looking like themselves, their very best selves. I don't feel so much like myself in white/ivory/cream. It has also been lovingly pointed out to me that because I am so pale, I look terrible in it. So there's that.

Am I telling what color it will be or will look like? No. You all will have to wait same as the groom to see it. :)

My theme this year is You Will Have Your Cake and Eat it too! (Its also the year of the Dragon. (I'm a dragon!)) I'll keep you all posted on the collection! and on all the Cake!

Wishing you lots of love for Valentine's day! xoxophae