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A SPECIAL WEDDING SECTION

The Right One-of-a-Kind Design

September 10, 1996|JEANNINE STEIN

Thinking of having a custom bridal dress made? Here is the experts' advice:

* Do some research before meeting with a designer. Look through bridal magazines to get a sense of trends. Try on a variety of dresses (take risks--you might be surprised by what looks best) in a bridal salon to see which styles and colors most flatter you. Go to a fabric store and compare the colors, textures and weights of chiffons, taffetas, tulles and crepes. Note that prices range from $10 a yard for synthetics to $50 and up for silks. Such stores as F & S Fabrics (10629 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; [310] 475-1637), International Silks & Woolens (8347 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; [213] 653-6453) and Hyman Hendler (729 E. Temple St., Los Angeles; [213] 626-5123) offer a good selection of bridal fabrics.

* When looking for a designer or salon, word-of-mouth is one way to go. So are the Yellow Pages and ads in regional bridal magazines. After narrowing the field to those with a long history of specializing in one-of-a-kind bridal dresses, make sure the dressmaker shares your sense of style. If you long for a pouffy, beaded confection while the designer favors simplicity, look elsewhere. Similarly, if a designer says, "I don't think I'm the person for you," believe her or him.

* Don't let a designer or store manager pressure you into something you don't like. If a dress doesn't feel or look right, speak up. Understand that the process may involve compromises, but a good designer will explain the need for any changes.

* Be honest with the designer about budget and time constraints. Most ask for a deposit upfront, with the remainder due either during the process or when the dress is finished. Figure on three fittings (each lasting about an hour); an elaborate dress may require more. Find out if the salon charges for missed appointments.

* Come alone or with one family member or friend to the initial consultation and subsequent fittings. Your opinion matters most, not the random musings of others.

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