See that fabric? The white one on the left? That's a yard of embroidered silk dupioni that I bought in the hopes that it could work as my dream wedding dress. This isn't a dream wedding dress of "There exists no other wedding dress in the world that is good enough for me." Well, sort of. I just want to design my own. I have a good relationship with a great seamstress, who was actually the right hand woman to a designer on Tommy Hilfigure's design TV show, so I can design a wedding dress. She knows how to construct it, and I know how to invent it. Working with her is also just very fun because once I decide on a direction, and have a good drawing of what I want, I become the dress form and we design on my body in muslin, debating over certain drapes or cuts. Here's our portfolio. I call it the Dress Up Box.
Here's Jenny draping the yardage of fabric I bought at Mood to see how it would fall, before I went home to make some final decisions on the shape of the dress. The woman in the back is someone else's mother who was doing a dress for her daughter. Everyone was in on the show.
So. Where is this rambling post going, you wonder. I'll tell you. For the creation of this post, I am in Scottsdale, AZ. I am here because my mom lives in Ohio, and I live in New York. She was insisting that we have a head-to-head meeting on wedding things so that she could show me all of the magazine pages she had clipped, folded, post-it-ed. She has created three filing systems and sent me two. She doesn't remember sending me the first one. The third one was actually very cute, not trapper-keeper-ish, and had little manila envelopes in it. Anyway, Arizona seemed the most logical place for us to meet up. ;) Kidding. One of our uncles has a house out here, and they share it with our gigantic family, so we squeezed into the space for a little Spring Break of sorts. The point is: she made me go wedding dress shopping.
Wedding dress shopping is not my favorite thing to do. Most of the time I gag. I gag at poly satin, sequins, and poly satin. Boutique gowns are beautiful, but why not create my own. We went to two stores, the first of which was Demetrios Bride. Let me tell you, if you ever go there, run away. If anyone tells you to go there, run away. They are charging high prices for the cheapest of poly satin. And by poly satin, I mean polyester. You should go there only to try on shapes and silhouettes. If it's in your budget, fine. But if it really is your budget, I think you should tromp to some consignment stores and find a beautifully made wedding gown. Or ebay. Our purpose was to try on shapes, and we had 45min, so it was fine.
The second stop was Destiny Bride. Potential trap #1: it is a boutique setting, literally hidden from the rest of the very nice strip mall (think little Paris allies) and is in an exposed brick building overlooking a twinkling courtyard with a fountain and trees. I know. You're saying: "Katie! Dress! Think dress!" Not that I cared, right? Because I'm designing my own, right? This is just to please my mom, right? Yeah right. So my sister, who had been texting the whole time at Demetrios, was totally involved at Destiny Bride, zipping me into all of my gowns, got a blister from all of the work (she wanted to do it), and had the most to say about each dress. My mom was shockingly quiet and became a spectator, which never happens in boutiques.
Get to the point. Ok. The point is, the second dress I tried on was a Romona Keveza. Here are some pictures of others of her dresses. Beautiful. A strapless, straight across the top, ivory gown with pleats across the bodice and on the train with a dramatic dip down the back, like on an old wooden roller coaster. Beautiful, but I wanted that dramatic dip in my back anyway. It did have a gorgeous cut for the skirt. She calls it a "flute." Mom calls it a trumpet. It's basically an upside down champaign glass with a low a-line, so you get the full curve of your body while it flares at the bottom and tucks under your butt, so that if you don't really have a butt, like me, you do in this cut of a dress, but in a good way. How do I know that the designer calls it a "flute"? Because she was there in the store for a trunk show. We randomly went on trunk show day. The gown had a matching veil, which was equally beautiful and long, and while it was shockingly simple and beautiful, I learned that I feel very claustrophobic in long veils. So. No long veils for me. Romona even showed me how I could carry it on my arm while we danced - she being my partner on the pedestal I was standing on - and still, I could not feel like an independent woman in this long veil. I know, weird.
Genevieve, our wonderful helper who had the most fun glitter eye shadow, brought me another Romona dress that she saw me glance at, but did not take. Because why would I. I'm designing my own, right? She brought it in, my sister zipped me up (ps: somehow these dresses all fit without pinning) and I walked out onto the pedestal. The dress was ivory with wide, black lace trimming across the straight bodice, and lining the train, which was another flute cut, but a more dramatic cut. It looked like an upside down martini glass and billowed back in a way that I had never imagined. The silk used for it was perfect. The perfect weight to allow this billowing, yet stiff second round of a skirt to keep its shape while twisting with me wherever I turned. It was so Spanish, and so beautiful. Very plain, very elegant, very knockout and very much fitting all of my curves quite comfortably. I walked all around the store to watch this train follow me and to understand how I felt in this shape that just kept feeling right in all of the right places. I walked around closets of Vera Wang, Bagley Mishka, the "under $3000" closet, the sample sale closet, another private showing room, in between pedestals and chairs, and back to my pedestal. Black lace on ivory. Beautiful. I loved it.
The only link I've found to a picture so far is here: look for the black lace trim:
Nine dresses later, one of which was the FUNNEST fairy-godmother/Glenda, Good Which of the North dress, we tried on the first Romona dress again, the one with the pleating, just to make sure it should be retired. They offered to bring in the veil, but I couldn't do it. The trunk show reception had started by then, and I now had a secret audience. I may have sold this dress to two of the women who were there. For kicks, I tried the black lace, Spanish dress. I say for kicks because I felt that I wouldn't see it again, and the idea of it wasn't leaving my mind. My sister zipped me up again. Genevieve, witnessing my former and unfortunate claustrophobia, brought up a shorter veil of two types of tulle - one normal white tulle, with maybe two layers of a French square fishnet-almost tulle. One hour later, the dress was still on. Literally. It did not come off of my body. It was so White Stripes, and I was so loving it.
Enter the giant problem. It was like I was cheating on myself with this dress. Later, over glasses of white wine at the Painted Horse, my sister likened it to me kissing another. And it was. It was like I had just kissed Jack White and was planning an elopement. My mom was especially quiet. Black is not her favorite color. It's not even a color. And the colors for the wedding are cream, chocolate brown and the softest pink. I'm in love with the fabric for the bridesmaid dresses, and I know that it's all about The Dress, but I'm not going to have some satin bridesmaid dresses, and Anthropology didn't deliver any designs I liked. When I found this fabric, I bought 12 yards of it. Sure, I could make and sell skirts out of it, but this all fit. As Genevieve (loved Genevieve) explained as she was trying to understand my deliberation, it's all like a puppet show. I've built pieces of the puppet show, and they are very important to me. I want to wear a long string of fresh water pearls that my grandfather gave to me. The reception is going to be, basically, in a barn. The "I Do" is going to be outside, on an 50 foot cliff. If it doesn't rain. My sister reminded me that I want to play Juno on repeat after the ceremony for the cocktail hour before the reception, and the Juno soundtrack makes you bounce, a lot. So we all bounced. Me, my sister, and Genevieve all sang the Vampire song to see how the dress did. They said it was fine.
The option: the black lace can become antique white. This changes the entire look of the dress. I mean, it does. You lose the immediate Spanish look that I was loving. And I know I'm not Spanish, but I was many lives ago. I am convinced I was a flamenco dancer. But without the black, you still have a heck of a silhouette, the skirt of which I could attempt to create, but I could not capture that second billow of a skirt with the fabric I have chosen. And I wouldn't want to. I didn't think of it, and I'm true to that. Yes, I see that the mermaid, champaign cut is my cut, and I can now decide on that. I've already sketched some dresses that are curvy, but I could decide if I wanted to not have the traditional full skirt that is just so fun to pick up and run across the yard in. And I would run across the yard. I'm a runner.
My mom and sister and I held a conference in the private showing room, surrounded by exposed brick overlooking the twinkling courtyard through an old-paned window. Twinkling because it was dark outside. Yes, once again, my mom and I (my sister is new to this because she has no patience to shop with us) had closed down yet another boutique. The shop ladies came in to brief us on our options, because I wanted the exact dress that was on my body. That's how well it fit. And it was still on my body, as was the veil. There was a trunk show discount, and a sample discount, although they didn't want to lose the sample because it had just come in and was new. In our privacy, I almost cried at the idea of not designing my dress, and began resigning to the fact that I would have to become a wedding dress designer, since I was now suppressing this desire. Maybe I just miss designing clothing because I've been designing websites so much and allocating money to debt instead of fabric and Jenny, which is my passion.
So that's the drama in my head. I can't do the black lace. My grandmother, who has four little diamonds in my engagement ring, really didn't like black, and although she would have thought I looked lovely at the top of the isle, the black might have branded her mind. The ivory lace, on the other hand, would work. The necklace would work with it, the bridesmaid dresses would work, and work very well, actually, because the dress now takes on an antique quality. I could find vintage shoes. And I could definitely make the veil. I have bushels of tulle right now. All I need to do is sew them onto a comb. And that would be nice - a new veil in the family that someone else could use if they wanted. A new tradition. If Oliver the Terrible didn't tear it to shreds. I've have to lock him up while I make it.
And there, Mistas, is the situation. Can the black laced flamenco dancer work in white lace? Can Jack White be the White Stripes with white on white? Even if it's antique? Is it enough to drop the black lace for the antique white, which loses the drama for which I loved, and forgo the dream? Your comments are very much appreciated.