Posts Tagged ‘Couture’

White Chocolate Label

November 19, 2008

“Wedding and Event planner to the stars” or “Design Aficionado” are commonly used as shorthand to describe Scott Corridan.  For more than fifteen years, Scott has designed events for people in the worlds of entertainment, fashion, finance, and politics.  Such respected companies as In Style, HGTV, Town and Country, The Knot, and Martha Stewart Weddings (to name a few) have asked for and published his advice on event planning. 


With this sort of resume, one would think that Scott exists in a pristine ivory tower far removed from humble pleasures.  On the contrary, Scott feels most at home working with his beloved horses in the cool ocean breezes of Santa Barbara.  It is only fitting that Scott’s design ambitions have led him to create The White Chocolate Label, a line of California couture bridal gowns.  The details of his debut collection are impeccable and reflect Scott’s equestrian, Southern California aesthetic.


White Chocolate Label’s basic collection is couture construction at a couture price point ranging from $9,000 to $16,000.  Though a more moderately-priced line will follow in spring 2009, this price point is justified being entirely made-to-measure in California.  When a White Chocolate Label gown is purchased, Scott personally flies out to the salon and meets with the bride to perform the fittings. 


The fabrication of the gowns also contributes to White Chocolate Label’s couture status.  Take his gown Bianca for example.  Not a thread of the typical bridal satin graces this gown.  Rather, Bianca is entirely constructed of silk and Italian cashmere creating an organic aesthetic.  Bianca is topped off with white gold fasteners resembling equestrian bits.  Scott prefers to pair Bianca with a Russian white mink bolero of his design.  To quell the PETA crowd, he explains that all the minks used in the bolero were fed organically.  What a sense of humor!


While Bianca is perfect for a celebrity ranch wedding in Jackson Hole, White Chocolate Label’s Jasmine is completely lux with its thirty yards of mushroom pleated Italian silk chiffon, yet as simple and heavenly as a cloud in its simple silhouette.  The thirty yards are deftly hand draped and tacked around the gown so that one isn’t overwhelmed but is wowed by the bride’s silhouette.  To tie in that White Chocolate Label equestrian touch, Scott has topped off the dress with a horse bit belt with hand braided Italian silk chiffon with equestrian o-ring drops as well as a Mexican blanket wrap to protect from the ocean breeze as the reception goes into the night.


For the bride who seeks a more traditional silhouette, Heather fits the bill.  Heather is the modern-traditional silhouette employed by everyone from Maggie Sottero to Monique L’huillier.  This is a highly sought after look, but it has been done a thousand times before.  The pick up skirt is also the traditional bridal fabric, duchess silk satin.  Scott has draped Italian silk tulle over the satin in order to dampen the sheen, making the gown completely non-traditional.  Scott designed this gown with a body-hugging Italian mohair equestrian work shirt including white gold cuff links.  There is a bit of California’s free spirit in the design of the gown and its sheer mohair top.


Scott Corridan’s White Chocolate Label is California ease meets couture perfection.  It isn’t everyday the designer flies to the salon to personally fit the bride.  These gowns are truly more indulgent than even their namesake implies.

White Chocolate Label is carried exclusively at Mariée in Scottsdale and Kleinfeld Manhattan.


Strapless, Strapless, Strapless

November 19, 2008

Help for the less than perfect bride.

That’s the name of the game when it comes to modern bridal gowns.  We live our everyday lives with straps and sleeves so it seems only logical that a bride would want to do the exact opposite of “everyday” when it comes to her wedding dress.  It is as though she is revealing a side of herself and her style that it isn’t commonly seen. 


That being said the bride wanders into uncharted territory when it comes to revealing parts of her body that aren’t used to seeing the light of day.  In a strapless dress there is no hiding the flabby upper arm or extra cleavage that hangs over the front and the sides of the gown.  


Luckily several bridal designers and local seamstresses expected this challenge for 2008 and have come ready with their designs to get those upper arms and chests covered. 


Barcelona designer Pronovias has long added boleros wraps and over dresses to their design repertoire.  This makes complete sense as they have designed their gowns to be worn in the beautiful and ancient cathedrals of Spain.  Though most Catholic churches in the US do not have any gown restrictions the rules are a little stricter throughout Europe.  Part of the beauty of a bolero is that it can easily be taken off for the reception.


Oliteby Pronovias comes with a matching crochet-lace bolero that is perfect for meeting church requirements.  If one opts to wear a veil for the ceremony the bolero can be saved for the reception when the veil is removed.  This helps to spiff-up the dress a bit like a costume change. 


On the other hand Pronovias’ Orfila does the trick when it comes to concealing the chest and arms for the ceremony.  Interestingly enough the sleeves seen on the dress are part of a waist-length blouse that can be unbuttoned and slipped off to reveal a playful strapless lace dress. 


Encore weddings are the perfect time to push the envelope when it comes to fashion.  There isn’t the influence of the mother-of-the-bride and her vision of what she sees her daughter wearing on her wedding day.  One can pay homage to the tradition of the wedding dress without going anywhere near the real thing.  New York designer Junko Yoshioka’s 2008 collection offers a silk chiffon dressing robe-like cover-up that is smartly trimmed in fox.


If the strapless dress arrives and the arms are still not up to par and one’s shops does not have a skilled seamstress the Wedding Accessory Superstore in Cave Creek offers an array of pre-made boleros and cover-ups.  Any bride can check out their selection and then provide her designer’s fabric for the cover-up to be created for her.  Not only will they make it from scratch with your fabric but also they have seamstresses skilled in beading and can add embellishment to your bolero.  Does it get any better than that?


November 19, 2008

Brides with Style…Everything Old Is New Again


There’s something about old black and white photos that capture the imagination.  Images of Veronica Lake peering out from behind a wave of hair with a single, seductive eye or the bubbly sensuality of Marilyn Monroe’s smile come to the forefront of one’s mind when considering some of Hollywood’s ultimate beautiful women.  It seems that women really had beauty down to a science in earlier eras, so much so that modern brides are harkening back to fashions from several decades ago in order to capture that spirit.  In a time when women are redefining what it means to be a woman and how to express that through fashion, brides are going back to the basics of femininity as expressed in the 1920s, 30s, and 50s. 


London born designer, Jenny Packham, has based her entire bridal design career on the roaring twenties when women rebelled against the tightly cinched waists of the earlier Victorian era and concentrated on a looser fit through the torso and a natural bust line.  Evening garments were theatrical and feather-heavy. Jenny Packham, carried locally at Mariée, displays her nineteen twenties know-how via her gown, Alice.  With silk charmeuse skillfully cut on the bias in late 1920s fashion (some would say 1930s), Alice, has Erte-like, art deco embroidery and is topped off with a bolero that is so feathered that it looks like it could take off in flight at any moment.  If it wasn’t such a modern faux pas, this bride could slowly strut the aisle with a calla lily bouquet in one hand and a long filtered cigarette in the other.  If not, a nice strip of sultry black eyeliner will do. 


As America entered WWII, the Veronica Lakes of the thirties became the Rosie the Riveters of the early forties.  Sinuous curves turned into sharply cut hourglass silhouettes as shoulders broadened and waists were cinched.  Rations put an end to flowing gowns and the mood, even for weddings, was more stoic.  Hence, a common early forties wedding garment would be a skirt suit.  Carried at Uptown Bride, Stephanie James Couture has masterfully created a retro wedding suit that has all of the aspects of a true vintage wedding suit.  In true forties fashion, barely covers the knee, and is not long enough to be considered tea length.  Pair it with a cage veil and red lipstick and this retro bride is ready to swing the night away.


1950s fashion was ultra-feminine, joyous, post-war style.  The boys were coming come and girls were luring them with mountains of post-rationing fabric, torpedoed busts, and waists cinched beyond all that is natural.  Called the Dior New Look, this once controversial look can be found at Azteca as designed by Victoria Bridals.  A perfect example of the New Look is her gown organza and satin gown that bells at the natural waist in true late forties/ early fifties fashion.  To emphasize the retro aspect of the gown, hem it up to show the entire shoe.  Topping it off with pink kitten heels and elbow gloves will set the tone for a perfectly designed fifties wedding.

Whether a bride is vamping it up to become her inner Gloria Swanson or putting on a strong, but feminine face as a modern Joan Crawford, there is a gown to be had for every type of vintage bride.  If the perfect dress is not ready made, usually gloves, a raised hemline, or cage veil will set the tone for the unmistakably vintage wedding.

Bridesmaid Couture

November 18, 2008

All too often the bridesmaids are placed lowly on the totem pole.  They are instructed to find a dress that blends into the background so as not to take away from the bride.  Lunacy!  The bride will certainly steal the show, so the maids might as well have a little fun keeping up. 


Bari Jay, an Uptown Bridal designer, offers a selection of fun and affordable bridesmaids’ dresses.  Take this taffeta number for example (Bari Jay 507).  As is common in fashionable bridal gowns, this bridesmaid’s gown carries a lot of its detail in the back.  There is a large taffeta obi sash that extends from the top of the dress to the hem.  This Japanese touch gives the wedding guests a little something to gaze at while dreaming about the buffet to follow.


Vera Wang, never asks a bridesmaid to leave her style or her brains at the door.  Her maids’ designs, found at Mariée, are anything but run-of-the-mill and are frequently an acquired taste.  One such lamé dress is a study in design throughout the entirety of the garment.  First, the lamé itself is actually the reverse side of a satin.  So, Vera Wang is already thinking outside of the box when it comes to fabrication.  She also uses black elastic in order to add a bit of modern, industrial edge juxtaposed against the saccharine sweetheart neckline and bubble hem.  The selling point on this little dress, like Uptown’s Bari Jay, is the back detail.  What can only be described as an extra “flap” of fabric is folded up over the black elastic to create, again, a Japanese detail much like a kimono. 


Ever the leader when it comes to bridesmaids, Watters and Watters knows just how to flatter the figure and appeal to an edgy design aesthetic.  Available at Brides by Demetrios and (newly) Mariée, Watters and Watter’s design 9826 has a risky and risqué element with its plunging neckline.  Then again, this style perfectly mirrors the most commonplace bridal designs seen first with Monique L’huillier and recently extending through David’s Bridal.  It takes a certain girl to pull off this cotton lace halter.  If a certain group of bridesmaids have just the right attitude and body confidence, then they should go for it with this dress and let that confidence shine through.


If asked to spend a lot of cash as well as several Saturdays on this wedding, maids deserve their time in the limelight too.  They have a certain style that deserves to shine.  Still, the bride need not worry about any show stealing.   After all, she’s the bride!

Bridal Couture

November 18, 2008

Coordinating the Bride and Her Maids

Finding the right bridesmaids dress to match the gown is like pairing a fine wine with a gourmet meal.  A sommelier wouldn’t pair a Riesling with lamb or a Cabernet Sauvignon with light seafood; so, a bride wouldn’t pair a slinky slip dress with heavy duchess satin bridesmaids dress adorned with pickups.  The Valley’s bridal salons come to the rescue with a wide offering of bridesmaid dresses to match their bridal selection. 


Old Town Scottsdale’s Mariée bridal salon offers a wide variety of artistic gowns that can be difficult to pare with the perfect bridesmaids dress.  One such challenge is the Christina by Bonaparte NY.  The Christina is several tiers of Chantilly lace and silk chiffon cut up and sewn back together in strips to form its own unique fabric.  This is delicately finished with a silk ribbon around the ribcage.  For more than a splash of drama, the Christina’s train can be untied to let its lace spill out onto the floor forming an art deco rectangular train that was more common in the 1920s. 


To match this lacy drama, a subtle lace ensemble will do the trick.  That being said, lace is a difficult fabric to find when it comes to bridesmaids.  Uptown Bridal in Old Town Chandler offers a particular Bari Jay bridesmaid gown (#317) comprised of soft, re-embroidered lace perfectly accompanying the soft lace and chiffon Bonaparte NY gown.   Picking lace does not mean giving up the wedding’s theme colors.  This Bari Jay comes in a variety of colors for the lace as well as the satin ribbon.  Also to be noted about this dress is its a-line silhouette.  The Bonaparte NY Christina is such a subtle mermaid that it is practically an a-line.  In every respect, these two gowns are a perfect pairing. 


Uptown Bridal also carries the Mon Cheri line of wedding gowns.  One such gown, the Karol, is both traditional and non-traditional calling for a bridesmaid’s dress that is also the balance of the two.  The Karol’s traditional white or ivory satin faced organza is made a bit more daring in its use of blue, embroidered illusion and a low back topped off with a blue ribbon.  The “something blue” is more than a little “something” with this gown.


A daring bride calls for a daring bridesmaid.  To match this streak of white and blue, Azteca Bridal in downtown Phoenix offers a Jim Hjelm bridesmaid with a blue sash to match the Mon Cheri gown at Uptown Bride.  To go that extra daring step, the Jim Hjelm maid’s gown comes in a very taboo white with the only contrast being the sash. 


The modern bride no longer has to put up with a tacky and mismatched bridesmaid gown.  One can match silhouette, fabrication, and accent color perfectly from bridal gown to bridesmaid like Syrah and chocolate.

Bridal Salon

November 18, 2008

Hot New Salon in Town…Uptown, That Is

Droves of “Zonies” follow the snowbirds back to their Midwestern nests for the hot summer months.  As they do this, Arizona resorts discount rooms and prepare to hold down the fort during a long, wedding-less, dry spell lasting the summer months.   What they are leaving behind is an exotic locale fit for the wedding of a modern Cleopatra under a billowing tent with the scent of lilies filling the air. 


Of course, the first thing a bride considers when imagining her exotic desert wedding is what to wear when it is so hot.  Yes, bridal salons are filled with duchess satin gowns involving layer upon layer of crinoline, but there are other gowns out there for this desert queen. 


New to Mariée of Old Town Scottsdale, London-based designer, Jenny Packham, captures the drama of Liz Taylor as Cleopatra via sparkling, bias cut chiffon and tulle.  The lightness of the fabrics catches even the slightest of desert breezes. 


Take, for example, Jenny Packham’s Papillion.  This gown evokes an Erte reverie of sizzling summer nights involving plenty of shimmer lotion and black eyeliner.   Often slim-line dresses do not seem “bridal” enough for brides-to-be.   According to Cicely of Life Design Events, “Something light, slinky, and flowing can be just as beautiful and romantic as a ball gown.”  Jenny Packham’s Papillion is for a bride fit to be a desert queen.  The ethereal nature of the tulle fits into the natural surroundings of the desert and is perfect for lounging in a wedding tent strewn with large pillows for sitting.  The Swarovski crystal bodice captures every speck of light from the sun and is just as bedazzling when mirroring the subtle glow of the desert moon. 


Some desert queens, or even goddesses, prefer a more botanical location in which to throw their soiree.  They, therefore, require a more subtle gown that flows over her form allowing for a movement of air.   Chandler’s newest (and chicest) bridal salon, Uptown Bridal, carries Destinations by Mon Cherie.  These gowns are befitting of another epic, desert femme fatale, Aphrodite.  Mimicking both the fine pleated linen of Egyptian royal garments as well the folds seen in Greek sculpture, Mon Cherie’s Destinations gowns are perfect for that botanical desert setting where the environ is lush with soft petals, but the temperature is harsh. 


According to Uptown Bridal’s Tonia Tinker, “Uptown Bridal also features ‘Just Married’ tank tops, flip flops, beach totes, and bikinis, to complete the perfect summer bride look.”  So, after our desert queen has tied the knot, she’ll be sweltering hot in her “Just Married” bikini as she trails off into the desert following the shimmering mirage that promises a refreshing pool just as luxurious as the Phoenician’s.

The Encore Bride’s Gown

November 18, 2008

Encore brides are style savvy and sophisticated, yet frequently bog down in the rules of tradition: Thou shall not wear white. Thou shall not wear a full dress.  Thou shall not look like a bride.  Throw it to the wind! Abide by one rule: If you look pretty in it, wear it.  Let’s break those old rules one by one.


Thou shall not wear white: Alfred Sung Bridals has created a beautiful, sophisticated, yet very white gown that is perfect in every respect for an encore bride.  It offers a bit of coverage in everyone’s favorite part of the body, the upper arm.  An internal corset holds in the waist and is covered with pleating that further cinches the middle.  The pleats gives way to a simple trumpet skirt that is both wedding and red-carpet worthy.  A simple, barely existent train can easily be swept up into a little French bustle so that the diva can show her stuff on the dance floor as the evening unfolds.


Thou shall not wear a full dress: Hailing from Barcelona, Pronovias collection has answered the call from Encore brides around the world.  They do not want to play down their relationship by wearing a subdued gown.  A full relationship calls for a full dress.  With Pronovias’ Esparta, the encore bride has the fullness she is looking for, but with an edge.  The simple, strapless bodice is capped of with a semi-casual, but totally couture, top.  It is not a jacket or a shrug; rather, it is an accent piece that takes this dress from first-time-around-traditional to second-time-around-couture and counteracts what traditional connotations the otherwise full dress may have had. 


Thou shall not look like a bride:  This is ridiculous, but probably the most common comment a bridal shop hears from an encore bride.  What is a bride of any age to look like if not a bride? The encore bride can both abide by this rule and toss it out at the same time.  Lea-Ann Belter is right there to help out with this contradiction in fabric.  Ms. Belter’s gown, Alyssa, is the best of both worlds.  It is neck to hem Alençon lace, the traditionalist’s bridal fabric of choice, thus putting it solidly in the bridal gown category.  Despite the lace, it has only the slightest of trains topped off with a whimsical silk chiffon sash that tosses about in the wind just like an encore bride’s caution.


At her encore performance, a bride does not shy away from the limelight and fade into the background.  The curtains part and she marches on stage to sing her long-awaited aria.  This is no time to be ashamed.  The perfect song, the perfect relationship, the perfect dress.

Winter Themed Weddings

November 18, 2008

It has been a chilly 98 degrees these past few days making it a little easier to think about the winter white-themed weddings that will be taking place this January and February.  Many a sophisticated bride will opt to surround herself with white calla lilies, white tablecloths, and white fabric swagged across the ceiling of her party tent.  Possibly a touch of ice blue will accent the scene to call to mind the frosty terrain of Narnia.  Never needing to fade into the background, the bride can play into her theme through her attire by donning some sparkles to remind the viewer of ice or grace her shoulders with a bit of fur to play up the ice queen, diva factor.  Valley bridal salons carry an array of gowns and accoutrements to keep the wintry theme alive in your wedding.


Ulla-Maija Couture’s Cathedral Collection gown, Fabienne, is the quintessential winter wedding gown.  This long sleeved duchess satin gown evokes a sense of 19th century modest sophistication a la Charles Dickens, perfect for a wintry wedding.  The pearl details on the cuffs and high collar are in reference to traditional glass ornaments or the imaginary snow falling outside of St. Mary’s Basilica during the wedding.  In a more utilitarian sense, Fabienne would do well for a wedding en plein air under the twinkling lights at the Boojum Tree’s Hidden Gardens on a frosty January evening. 


For fear of the wintry chill, many brides will chose an indoor wedding taking her party to a ballroom at the retro-chic Hotel Valley Ho.  This historic landmark calls for an offbeat gown, even when fitting into the traditional wintry theme.  Elizabeth Fillmore’s gown, Mia, rises to the challenge pairing a silk chiffon goddess gown that billows into the hem with a sparkling bed jacket formed of beaded tulle patchwork.  It is just this combination of the harsh and soft textures that calls to mind the garb of Narnia’s ice queen.  It is perfect for the non-traditional bride fitting into the traditional winter theme.


Robin and Karen from Weddings to Go also point out that a bit of Hollywood can be added to a wedding gown by topping a sexy sheath off with a sensuous faux fur wrap or cape.  These accessories are often last minute and can really add a touch of regal snow queen to an otherwise simple wedding gown.  Wedding Accessory Superstore comes to the rescue with a faux, white, artic-fox fur wrap to surround the shoulders with warmth as well as glamour.  This wrap would pair perfectly with Mariée’s Elizabeth Fillmore gown, Jade, with sequins dripping down the front of the bodice and skirt like icecicles.  The two garments together would cast a chill in anyone’s bones, nothing that the perfect red lipstick wouldn’t heat up. 


A winter themed wedding, whether it be traditional or edgy, is an opportunity to go for all out glamour.  Remember, a wedding gown should be purchased at least four months in advance.  So, despite the summer heat, brave the streets in search of your inner ice queen.

Hot Town—Shopping in the City

November 17, 2008

How do you know its summer in Phoenix?  Temperatures are soaring above 110 degrees at sunrise.  Atkins devotees have been taking their cooking to the great outdoors by frying eggs on sidewalks around Phoenix.  Mac foundation is melting and sliding off pretty faces and onto $100 reconstructed tee-shirts at evening art walks around the valley. There are more tumbleweeds than pedestrians on the walkways of Kierland Commons. 


Last, but not least, brides hibernate and are no longer found piling into layers and layers of duchess satin at valley bridal shops.  Just as Benjamin Franklin warned, “The sleeping fox catches no poultry”, so does the dormant bride miss all of the benefits of shopping in the summer…even in Phoenix.


Victoria Canada, an area events coordinator, asserts that summer is the perfect time for Valley brides to peruse local wedding shops because they beat the holiday rush.  According to Victoria, most proposals take place during the winter holidays.  In true bridely-fashion, the stores are rushed, ransacked, and rummaged through by the bride and her entire family during holiday season.  So, it would be logical to avoid this scene and shop the bridal boutiques when other brides are laying low.  


At Mariée, sample gowns are purchased twice yearly at Bridal Couture Fashion Week in New York.  The summer heat hits right about when the new gowns will come pouring in from the New York market week.  Sample gowns are deeply discounted to make way for the new gowns that will be coming in from market.  Many of these gowns have never been tried on and are still marked at a 50% discount. 


The true fashionista will not be lured by the deep discounts, but by the brand new gowns that are hitting the racks.  As most brides slumber, the fashionista is getting cutting edge bridal gowns before anyone else ever sees them. 


Sylvia Danese of Danese Custom Creations points out that things do slow down a bit but that it really doesn’t make a difference what season it is because they could custom make a velvet dress in the heat of the summer and a slinky slip in the dead of winter.  Danese’s is a wonderful resource for mothers-of-the-bride to begin to have their custom gown designed.  Prom season is over and the grads are at the lake, so Sylvia is ready with her tape measure to make a dream mother-of-the-bride ensemble.


Discounts, fewer people, and fresh designs are reason enough to slap some SPF 50, grab a bottle of Fiji water, and head out the door to the Valley’s bridal salons.

Trunk Shows

November 17, 2008

When the term “trunk show” comes to mind, many-a-bride imagines a peddler whipping open an old wooden sailor’s trunk chock full of badly-folded dresses and the room is a frenzy of manic brides wildly digging through mounds of gowns. 


Although boutiques would love to have a frenzy of orders, trunk shows are much more orderly and greatly benefit the bride.  Trunk shows have evolved into an event where a designer sends all of their designs from the upcoming season to a store.  Typically a store will carry about five designs from the upcoming season.  At a trunk show, and only at a trunk show, they will have the entire collection.  Brooke, a bridal consultant at Demetrios Scottsdale, says that, “it is an opportunity to buy before [the new styles] hit the store.”   A bride will have an opportunity to see the dresses before anyone other bride in The Valley.  She may, in fact, be the only girl in The Valley to ever try on and wear that dress to her wedding.  Talk about exclusivity!


Because all legitimate stores are contractually bound by the designer not to discount their gowns, many stores cannot offer a discount unless it is under the circumstance of a trunk show.   This 10-15% discount is common practice at both Destiny’s Bride and Mariée.  One shouldn’t turn their nose up so quickly at what seems to be a small discount.  At both salons this is frequently a savings of over $350, making that dream gown far more affordable.


Another added benefit of trunk shows, particularly at couture bridal salons, is the opportunity to meet the designer.  In an age where designers like Vera Wang and Monique L’huillier are practically rock stars, this is quite the opportunity.  According to bridal consultant Megan at Destiny’s Bride, it is beneficial to meet the designer, or the designer’s trusted representative because they know the gowns so intimately and can really help to customize the gown to the bride.  The designer’s representative may know of other fabrics that they have on hand to make the dress, special attributes of the fabric, and can help select a gown that will fit the bride’s shape and wedding vision perfectly.


In order to take advantage of all of the benefits of a trunk show, find where your favorite designer is carried locally, check the store’s website for trunk show listings, and make an appointment for the next trunk show.  It is that easy!