Notes From a Wedding Dress Designer ~ The Art of Creating a Bridal Collection
11月 17 2023 – Catherine Langlois
Scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram you'll find a multitude of styles for wedding dresses. Even as a designer it can become overwhelming and disorienting. One day mini skirts are trending, the next a classic ballgown. All vying for your attention. A style of gown becomes hot, and every designer from high end couture to online retailers create a variation, it feels like it is a sea sameness.
So how does a designer filter out all the noise and try (I say that honestly) to create a bridal collection that is on trend yet unique and true to their vision?
Every designer has their muse, find out mine...
Daydreams ~ or as my dad says, naval gazing
It all begins with daydreams – a moment when I pause and where my imagination takes over. In the quiet, silhouettes, details and stories form like fleeting shadows. The initial spark of an idea often comes from sitting and doing nothing, creating a canvas for inspiration.
Creativity for me peaks in the fall, a season of transition and transformation. The crisp air and changing colors of the leaves serve as a metaphor for a new chapter. It's like going back to school for the part of my brain that creates. It's a time when I recharge, refresh, and renew my love for what I do.
Notes ~ Capturing the Essence
As my daydreams take shape, they are transformed into rough designs through random note-taking. Ideas are jotted down in an old fashioned notebook, screenshots added to inspiration files on my phone, preliminary sketches emerge, and the vision starts to take shape. An important part of my process is creating a story for a collection and building a list of gown names that evoke a mood. This is one of my favorite parts of a new collection, I'm often writing down interesting names I read or hear, and doing online research for names that will inspire. For my WildHoney collection, I exhausted everything to do with honey and had to move onto sweet things!
Another example, the LoveBlooms collection was developed during the lockdowns of 2020. I longed for hope, the beauty of the garden, exuberance, color and life. It was my most labour intensive, artistic and colorful collection.
What inspires me?
Vintage fashion, with it's grace and sophistication, gets my creativity flowing. Drawing inspiration from eras that celebrated femininity and craftsmanship, I've always woven threads of nostalgia into my designs. Each gown is a harmonious blend of classic silhouettes and contemporary twists, creating a bridge between the past and the present.
I am a ravenous collector of vintage dressmaking patterns, books and magazines. I read them and look at the styles the way other people devour novels. A historic fashion nerd, I am continuously learning from my collection of vintage pattern drafting books, searching for inspiration in the pages.
Leafing through the pages of vintage magazines is like stepping into a time capsule. The fashion, the stories, and the aesthetics of bygone eras fuel my imagination. From the elegance of the 1920s to the understated feminine looks of the early 1970's, vintage magazines serve as a wellspring of inspiration.
Current Runway Trends
I love fashion, not simply vintage fashion, but all fashion. Couture, luxury, online shopping to upcycling and thrifting. The modern runway is a playground of excitement, a space where creativity takes flight. My collections take cues from the trend setting artistic spirit of runway fashion. I follow my favorite design houses on social media and take away from designer collections silhouettes, trends and fabrics that can be translated into a bridal collection.
Movies~ Cinematic Inspiration
Movie magic often finds its way into the research process. Classic and contemporary films have a wealth of design that inspires me. From the timeless romance of vintage classics to the on trend style of a blockbuster, movies provide a rich well of inspiration that adds depth and emotion to each collection. I will often watch a movie simply for the costumes and have always been a follower of historic movie costume designers. Like the incomparable Adrian from the 1940's who designed so many iconic looks. Or over the top period sagas with mind blowing attention to detail. Below is a stunning portrait from the dance scene in Anna Karenina with Keira Knightly. An ode to the famous portrait of pastel evening gowns by iconic designer Charles James by photographer Cecil Beaton.
Fabric Swatches ~ There is always Something New!
Exploring and selecting materials is an adventure in shopping. Fabric swatches arrive by the bundle. From delicate lace to luxurious silk, and new blends of man made fabrics - it's like Christmas morning. Choosing what to purchase for the studio is fun but arduous. I have to shop for my brides, have ESP as to what will be trending, what I personally love and what is missing in the candy store (my lace cupboard).
My bridal collections boast a fusion of traditional and modern fabrics, each carefully chosen to enhance the collection its intended for. From intricate lace to luxurious textiles, every gown is a testament to the endless possibilities that arise when creativity meets fabric innovation. Simply by changing the style of lace, a traditional gown can become fun and contemporary.
Once I've decided on a story for my collection and have created working sketches and patterns, I let the fabrics speak to me. Often a new fabric will become the muse for a collection and I will build the story around it.
The Ultimate Muse ~ My Custom Brides
Custom designed wedding dresses are the heartbeat of my studio. Each unique bride is a muse, a source of inspiration that guides the creation of bespoke gowns. Fittings with brides unfold like a story, and their personalities, style aesthetic, and dreams shape their wedding dress. It's a collaborative journey where every detail is crafted to reflect the individuality of the bride.
Often during a fitting, a bride will come up with an idea and excitedly say "Can we do this?" and I'll reply, why not? That's a brilliant idea, I've never thought of that! I love working with custom brides, their enthusiasm and inner creativity (unbeknownst to them) fuels my creativity. I'll fall in love with their dress and want to recreate my version in a collection.
As my daydreams evolve into new bridal collections, the creative process becomes gowns woven from threads. A combination of notes, fabric swatches, sketches, bridal fittings, movie influences, and the timeless style found within the pages of vintage sources. Every wedding gown in my collections is not just a piece of clothing, but a culmination of the thoughts, stories, and styles that have shaped it's journey from ephemeral idea to the bridal collection.
This year I am developing three collections
Duette ~ inspired by the ephemeral elegance of the ballet
Moonshine ~ sparkly, modern, party worthy gowns inspired by the partying of prohibition the1920's
Hearts Content ~ timeless, feminine, classic wedding gowns with a twist
Follow me on Instagram and TikTok to follow my creative process!