To Bespoke or Not to Bespoke? That is the Question...

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The concept of Bespoke: made specifically to order, I’ve found, either throws brides into fits of hysterical excitement or leaves them with a heavy looming fear of dread! Perhaps this is because some brides can easily visualise how their wedding dress should look, whilst others need to see examples of how things could look before they embark on the design journey - without really knowing if they will like the finished product!

However, before the finished product is produced, the bespoke designer such as Vyn Johns, translates and transforms ideas into reality whilst adding advice, comment and expertise. Yet simultaneously remaining partially detached in order to fully translate the bride’s design ideas - a skill which I am constantly honing and improving.

Let me illustrate this concept to you with one of our clients. Lucinda White of Pure Event Management came to us with the concept of ‘Vintage-Modern’. That is, she wanted her wedding to reflect a bygone era but didn’t want it to become a parody of a vintage wedding fair. She also liked the 30s, as the ‘deco-esqueness’ of that era had a modern structural feel about it. However, in reality, Lucinda was lost with regard to how her dress would reflect this. Using the images which Lucinda had collated I was able to establish the mood which she was trying to convey. I was also able to show her 2D and3D design from that era. Not just in terms of fashion but also in terms of furniture, architecture and even poster art! Immediately Lucinda was able to see that with a little help she could have, let’s say, architectural ideas translated into her ideal dress’s design.

The Scrap Book Board
From this I was able to sketch ideas for her whilst considering what would be the most flattering shape for her figure. Incidentally it’s important to ask which parts of the body the client likes to cover or expose. Irrespective of a client’s shyness – with a little coaxing, you can always draw out the part(s) of the body with which the client feels the most comfortable. As a designer you then know what you can draw attention to, without the client feeling intimidated, bewildered or even railroaded into accepting!

Lucinda was particularly confident of her back and shoulders – which I dare say she had every reason to be. She wanted her dress to skim her hips rather than hug them. And she wanted the dress to flow ‘like water flowing through a river’ when she walked down the aisle. She wanted it to trail on the floor – in true ‘30’s starlet style’. However, she wanted to be able to manage this ‘trailing drape’ when she danced until the early hours at her reception. Hopefully you will be able to see how the concept of bespoke comes into play when having a dress made to specific requirements. As a designer all criteria: practical and aesthetic have to be considered in order to ensure that the client walks away so happy she tells her friends, neighbours and ‘countrywomen’ – as a small independent business, this is so important to our reputation and ultimately our existence!

Sassy Bow
Lucinda wasn’t too sure about the initial sketches but from them she saw elements and ideas which she really liked. I was then able to amalgamate the ideas she liked and discard the ones she didn’t. Resultantly her ideal dress began to emerge. Fortunately it was based on a sample in our studio called Sassy Bow (right), which was from an original 30s Vintage Vogue pattern. Ironically, irrespective of the bespoke service being delivered we often find that brides come to us with a bespoke request generated by the work we have done in the past. As such, they want one of our sample dresses to be translated into their wedding day ideal.

Sassy Bow + The Lucinda White Stamp!

The resultant sketch can be seen to the left – not dissimilar from Sassy Bow but different enough to have the Lucinda White stamp on it. Now it’s just a matter of cutting the pattern and making up the toile (sample) for Lucinda to try on before the all important fitting sessions begin. I will keep you informed! Hopefully that gives you a very brief insight into the bespoke design process. After this explanation - the question remaining for me is ‘Would you consider bespoke?’

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