Any brides having a couture dress made?

Hi everyone,

I just wondered if anyone else is having a couture dress made?

I am torn between having a Suzanne Neville gown (Seville), a very glamourous fistail gown or having a couture gown made for me. I totally fell in love with Seville when I went to see Suzanne and I loved the fact that she would do the fittings as she is so lovely. So as I was leaving the apt I was 110% sure that I wanted that dress, UNTIL I saw a photo of a real bride wearing the same dress. It looked awful, the material looked really bad in the photo, all rumpled and not very flattering. I felt gutted.

So I went to my second apt feeling very confused, loving the dress but feeling dissapointed about the material and how it looked in the photos, particularly as I liked Suzanne so much. My second appointment was with a South African designer called Gert Van De Merwe who is based in Cape Town but comes back to Mayfair once a month to do consultations and for fittings. My mum had a dress designed by him for my sisters wedding a couple of years ago and was really amazing.

So I went in for my appointment and instantly liked him. He is very down to earth and friendly with a great sense of humour. He designs all of his dresses couture for each bride and will take your figure, theme, where you are getting married etc into account before coming up with a design. Anyway, he ended up designing me almost the exact same silhoutte as the Suzzanne Neville gown (i.e. strapless and fishtail) but made from a silk instead of a satin and covered in french lace with delicate beads hand stiched on. The design he created was practically a combination of 3 of my favourite dresses, two by Suzanne Neville and one by Ellie Saab!!! He then drew a Cathedral length veil with matching lace edging which is what I've always wanted. I was so impressed by his knowledge of materials, he was able to tell me what would tailor well to my figure, what would look good in the light and what would look great in photographs.

The dress and veil from Suzanne Neville is actually about £500 more than for a couture dress and veil, although I'm very very lucky that my mum is buying my dress and is happy for me to have either dress.

My dilema is whether to go for a dress that I have fallen in love with and I have seen the end result but am worried about how it will look on me, OR go for a dress that is a combination of my favourite designs and completely designed for me, I can choose the fabrics and make changes until the last minute but that I won't get to see what it looks like until it's made and by that point it would be too late to change my mind!!

Has anyone else had a couture dress made? How did you feel having something designed that you wouldn't be able to try on until after it is made? I do think that I am going to go with Gert but I can't help wondering what it will look like on me? Although I am lucky to have seen the end result with my mum's dress so at least I know that his dresses are amazing, but still......

What to do?????


  • orphilea1orphilea1 Posts: 399
    Go to Phillipa Lepley!! I am only joking and not trying to confuse you but I am having a couture dress made by her and it sounds exactly like the one you want (even down to the lace trim veil).

    The reason I suggest you go and see her is she has loads of dresses in her actual collection which you can choose bits and pieces from. I found one which is almost exactly what I wanted in shape and style so it has really helped me see what it will look like in the end. Still a bit scary though as I get to choose exactly where all the lace goes, the cut of the neckline (and in reality anything else I want to change).

    Gert is an amazing designer though so I am sure whatever he ends up making you would be gorgeous. He was on my list to go and see but I went to PL as my last but one appointment and had a 'this is the one' moment with a dress there!

    Same goes for SN though - beautiful dresses so you can't really go wrong - then again you may find other girls will have the same dress as you so the one from Gert will be a little more unique.

    Have you had a piccy of yourself taken in the SN dress. I think they say no photos in the shop but get a friend to go with you and do it on a camera phone (she can pretend she is texting!). I found it really helped me to see what I looked like in the dress and how it fell on me. Might help clarify things for you.

    Sorry this doesn't really give you a straight answer but it is hard as you have narrowed it down to two fantastic dress designers!

  • daniellekukdaniellekuk Posts: 313
    Hi CLHBride,

    thanks for the advice. Funnily enough I really like Phillipa Lepley dresses as well, but thought that her gowns started at £6k, which for is about £2k too much for me! If that's not the case please let me know.

    Unfortunately they wouldn't let me take a photo at Suzzane Neville. None of the bridal shops would let me though - why is that???

    I think the issue is that originally I wanted a lace covered gown, then recently I changed my mind and decided I wanted only satin, with a hint of lace to soften it, and now Gert has designed me a dress covered in lace because he feels that a pure satin or silk gown will be too hard for me!! I'm soooo confused. But I do love the idea of being able to have a dress made and designed just for me.

    Decisions, decisions ....

    When's your wedding by the way?
  • HannabelleukHannabelleuk Posts: 1,134
    Princess DK - I could have written every word of your post, just substituting the names of the designers for Sassi Holford and Lucia Silver.

    I can't offer any advice but I wanted to say you aren't alone in this, and if you find an answer can you let me know please?

    I am really struggling with accepting that what my designer has drawn will look good when it is on, whereas I have tried on the Sassi Holford dress and know that it looks fab! It is also a big commitment to part with a stack of money before I get to try on the dress with my designer.

    Can I be nosy and ask how much your couture gown is going to cost? Mine is about the same as Sassi Holford (around £2,500) but will be subject to change, especially as I am fairly convinced that I want an integral corset, which has not been included in the original quote.

    Decisions, decisions also.....
  • orphilea1orphilea1 Posts: 399
    My dress is less than £6k and is covered in lace so I know that ends up being a bit more expensive than some of the dresses without lace/less lace so maybe it is worth a visit even if just to try on more all lace/part lace dresses to help you decide what look you want to go for?

    They also sell the samples in the shop so depending on your size and shape you could get one of those - they are actually much much cheaper but then you don't get the whole couture/toile fittings thing - basically it is sold as seen and altered to fit you (ie you can't change the design).

    They don't let you take piccys in case you go somewhere else and get someone to make it for less- bit silly as lots of the dresses are in magazines. I took secret photos in every shop I went to so it can be done if you are subtle about it!!

    It is a lot of money and a big decision so don't rush into it - I took absolutely ages to choose my dress and in the end it was worth it as every time I look at a photo of the basic template sample I feel a little thrill (I am so sad!!)

    Wedding is 27 June 2009. I was getting married this summer (which is why I have already chosen mr dress) but my wedding venue was sold over Xmas so we ended up having to postpone. What about you?? x

  • rarajdukrarajduk Posts: 1,784
    Hi Princess DK,

    I just wanted to let you know that after I bought my dress I saw two photos of other brides wearing "my" CC dress....both looked dreadful!

    I went back to the shop to try it on again and reassure myself.....thankfully I'm happy that I've made the right choice for me.

    I just think that some brides fall in love with a dress and the assistants don't always bother to guide them or advise them that it might not be right for them.

    Also, flowers, hair and jewellery play a big part in the overall look and that's also what I think put me off the other brides' photos.

    If the sample looked right on you and you're confident with SN's service (quite impressive that she is so involved), then I don't think that you can go wrong. Look at the Fashion thread, as there is lots of detail about SN designs and service....all of which seems positive.

    The bridal shops seem reluctant to allow photos. They must have a lot of try on appointments that lead to cheaper copies being made elsewhere.


  • rarajdukrarajduk Posts: 1,784
    I think most people have gone for one of the mainstream bridal designers.....Forgot to mention that one of the ladies on here (poppyttt) had a couture V.Westwood dress. It might be worth emailing her when she is back off honeymoon if you want info about her experience.


  • daniellekukdaniellekuk Posts: 313
    Hi guys,

    thanks for your advice.

    Hannahbelle - my dress is £3,250 which includes an internal corset, plus a cathedral length lace edged veil and the dress is covered in lace. This includes a toile fitting and 3 dress fittings.

    CHLBride - I'm getting married on 3 January 2009 which is only 8 months away!!! So much to do....

    I keep thinking I've made up my mind and then switch it. I think I could probably go with either dress designer and love the final result I just need to choose one.

    Ok, so back to square one.....!
  • HannabelleukHannabelleuk Posts: 1,134
    You could do what someone suggested on another thread and toss a coin, thus working out what you really a plumping for.

    I think mine will come out the same if I get the internal corset, including a stole and some jewellery, but I was told that the cost could change by up to 10%, which is a bit disconcerting for a control/spreadsheet freak like me!
  • roatesroates Posts: 1,478
    Hi Princess DK, I'm not in a position to have either option but I think you should go couture, definately. To have a dress made for you that fits like a glove is a once in a lifetime experience and to have so much design input is also so exciting and personal. The best bit for me would be knowing that no-one else had one like it. It really put me off some big name and gorgeous designers that I saw so many brides in them... but that's just me. I wouldn't worry about not liking the finished result and I agree you'll probably like either but if you have tried similar all over lace and similar shape gowns and know you like them then minor things can be ironed out as you go, ie neckline etc.

    I have yet to see my (probable) dress on anyone else (although I am curious! lol) and am also going to make changes to it - the back will be lowered, buttons added down the back of the body and possibly even make the neckline sweetheart instead of straight, all of which the shops seamstress can apparently manage.

    Do let us know what you choose!
  • vics8vics8 Posts: 1,873
    I know this is probably not much help but I was in a similar place to you too.

    I found an amazing gown by one of the International Designers at Caroline C's called Toi Couture. It was so different and close to what I was looking for but it was the wrong colour and I wanted to change a couple of elements of the design.

    The girls at CC were excellent and telephoned Toi in Italy to see if they could accomodate my design alterations and colours and they said no problem and sent me several swatches to choose exactly what fabrics I wanted.

    I guess doing it this way took some of the uncertainty out of a full couture gown so therefore the best of both worlds.

    Worth asking at the designers you're considering to see if they could accomodate your ideas!

    Good luck

  • MrsRafMrsRaf Posts: 1,802
    ooh vics do you have a pic of your Toi Couture dress? i loved them when i saw them at CC but just a bit out of my price range

    i have to say that as happy as i am for poppy, i am slightly green eyed monster-ish at the whole V. Westwood couture gown image can't wait to see poppy's wedding photos though - i bet she looked amazing!!
  • vics8vics8 Posts: 1,873
    Hi MrsRafique,

    This is the pic of my dress. It is going to be a little different from the pic (Ivory, different fabric and a few design tweaks) BUT i absolutely love it.

    It wasn't as much as I thought it was going to be, especially as some of the range is considerably higher.

    Are you still dress hunting you have a short list yet?

    pic removed....just incase h2b sees it


    [Modified by: vics8 on April 30, 2008 11:59 AM]
  • Hi!

    I am having a couture dress by Maureen Myring Kesterton. It's just in it's first stages (I've seen the drawings and the fabric samples - wedding isn't until May next year) but I am so excited!

    For me the swinging point was working with the designer to make it absolutely perfect, plus the fact that no-one else will have my dress!

    The fabric is amazing, it's been designed by Myring especially for me and it has all lace and embroidery, crystals and beads with a very very pale pink and green floral pattern. It's been made up at her couture factory (which also makes the fabrics and dresses for Vera Wang bridal).

    I just love sitting with her and working out together whether off-white or ivory is better, what lines we want where etc. etc. I think H2B's head would explode if he tried to realise how difficult it is to choose between off-white and ivory!!

    Of course it helps that her new flagship store is nearby so she is personally overseeing the whole thing. I was a bit worried in the first place about placing the order with her and then being left with someone else to do the legwork but that hasn't happened at all. She's a lovely lady, she's doing couture dresses for my bridesmaids too and they are all really excited!

    So far I can recommend the process. Fingers crossed it will continue to go well!

    (And I can definitely recommend the shop for any Midlands brides! It's much better than GoBridal!)


  • Princess DK, I have just seen your post and wanted to agree with you about the photo of the bride in Seville at SN's Knightsbridge store. I tried on Seville and loved it but as I have a large bust it looked a bit too much Jessica Rabbit for me and as I am conscious of being 'age appropriate' I decided not to go for it. However, I want it made as an evening dress in dark green or purple for my next big birthday - did you see it as an evening dress? Fab!

    Anyway, the friend I was with I think preferred Seville to the ones I liked but when we stopped to look at the photos on the way out we couldn't believe the one of the bride in Seville. I can only assume she lost a lot of weight before her wedding - not sure why Suzanne has it on display. The other reason might be that apparently some brides have asked for it to be made bigger round the thighs so they can walk more easily/go to the loo!!! This is what the assistant told us. One girl had it made so figure hugging she had to take the dress off completely when she went to the loo! Something to bear in mind with fishtail dresses, I suppose!!!

    Good luck with your search.

    I too crave Vivienne Westwood and can't wait to see the finished product on lucky Poppyttt

  • HannabelleukHannabelleuk Posts: 1,134
    Princess DK - sorry to hijack your thread, but the advice from the girls here has been great and has given me the courage to go with my designer. It's a bit of a leap of faith, but I'm sure it'll be perfect and I will have the perfect dress to my specification and nobody else will ever wear one like it!

    Thank you everyone! And thank you Princess DK for starting a thread with my exact dilemma on it

  • Pippa155Pippa155 Posts: 1,144
    Hi Princess DK,

    I'm having a dress made especially for me, but probably for different reasons - I'm having a floor length Amanda Wakeley coat (we're getting married at the IceHotel in Sweden) and was really struggling to find a really plain and simple dress to go under it (I'm not planning to take the coat off). I just felt that everything tried on was lovely, but was a 'stand alone' kind of thing.

    Fortunately Amanda Wakeley has agreed to supply me with some additional fabric, and I have found a dressmaker near me who will actually make it for me. The whole thing is coming in at less than £1K so I'm really pleased.

    I'm having a Swarovski crystal bouquet, and am having some of the same crystals sewn across the top of bodice. I really like the idea of having a genuine one off, and being able to sit down with the dressmaker and specify every detail is such a pleasure in itself (I really am that much of a control freak!)

    I think contradiction is right that if you don't like something, then you will have every opportunity to iron it out - and have exactly what you want!


  • Snow Queen that sounds so beautiful. What a wonderful theme for your wedding

Sign In or Register to comment.