The quest for the dress is a rite of passage for every bride. But it needn’t be a difficult undertaking. If you’re looking for something personalised, original and cutting-edge, then a high fashion gown is for you. It’s time to say yes to the dress.
A term used to describe clothing that is unique, exclusive and ahead-of-the-pack, in the world of weddings, high fashion refers to both couture and luxury ready-to-wear gowns created by only the best designers, using only the most exquisite materials.
Prêt-à-porter: (n) French, meaning ‘ready-to-wear’.
These inspired creations by some of the world’s top designers provide the opportunity for each and every bride to indulge in a little luxury. Luxury prêt-à-porter is a trend that is very quickly gaining ground. Top designers from around Australia and the world no longer consider ready-to-wear to be couture’s poor cousin. These designers put a lot of effort into the design and creation of their gowns, and thus the finished product is extremely high quality and positively stunning!
Almost every fashion house, designer or couturier now offers a prêt-à-porter collection: a set of luxurious, high quality gowns, created using the most exquisite fabrics and finishes that showcases their signature aesthetic, design sensibilities, talent, skill and artistic prowess.
These gowns are the epitome of style: allowing top designers and couturiers a chance to use their skills and talents to service a wider audience, and similarly, allowing more brides the chance to own a designer gown. When you indulge in a luxury prêt-à-porter gown, you’re not just paying for the designer’s name on the label. Bridal designers and couturiers are experts in their craft, and they use every technique, skill and all their experience, not to mention their creative genius, to craft a collection of gowns that are absolutely perfect.
These gowns can be purchased in a store, as they are, ‘off-the-rack’. A ready-to-wear collection can often feature elements, materials or design characteristics that the designer or couturier is well known for, such as a specific lace, type of beading, particular fabrics or silhouettes. These gowns differ from couture in that they’re not made specifically for a particular person. However, just as any garment can be adjusted or tailored to fit, so can a prêt-à-porter gown. And, as the majority of these designers also offer couture services, if you do decide to indulge in a one-of-a-kind creation for your big day, then look no further.
The Allure of Couture
Couture: (n) French, meaning ‘exclusive, hand-made custom-fitted clothing’.
A couture garment is created with only the very best fabrics and embellishments, handmade by only the most experienced couturiers, especially for a specific person or occasion.
A couture wedding gown is made to order: to your exact measurements and requests. There are very few times in a normal person’s life when they have the opportunity, let alone the means, to indulge in couture. But if you have dreamt of the perfect wedding dress since you were little, if you know exactly what you want and particularly if you want it to fit perfectly, then couture is for you.
When you hire the services of a couturier, you can expect the very best service and finished garment. At your first consultation, the designer will sit with you to discuss your requirements, the style of gown you like, any materials you have in mind and what kind of finishes and embellishments you’re looking for. Bridal couturiers are experts at creating a style to suit your unique body shape, concealing any flaws and flattering your best assets.
Couturiers are not just dressmakers or seamstresses. They are fashion designers with years of experience. The difference between a couture gown and a gown made by a dressmaker is much like the difference between having your portrait taken by a master photographer, who has an artistic eye, a flair for direction and lighting and knows how to enhance your best features and having it taken by someone who knows how to operate a camera.
When you hire the services of a couturier, you can expect the very best service and finished garment. Bridal couturiers are experts at creating a style to suit your unique body shape, concealing any flaws and flattering your best assets.”
Just as brides use inspiration boards to assist them in achieving a harmonious, overall look for their wedding style, so too do designers and couturiers utilise them to achieve a strong aesthetic direction for their collections. These inspiration boards can feature colours and colour palettes, textures, fabrics, embellishments, patterns, sketches, locations, quotes or words and even people.
Every designer goes through a process of observation and reflection, research and analysis, and eventually conceptualisation. Once they have a fair idea of the direction for their collection, in terms of colour, fabric and silhouettes, they set about collecting and compiling inspiration and refining their vision, through the use of an inspiration board. Just as a painter may depict his mood on a canvas, a designer pours out their creativity onto an inspiration board, which sets the stage for development and eventually the creation of the exquisite gowns that make up each new collection.
Inspiration boards allow designers to formulate a theme or overall style for their collections, offering a place to develop a colour spectrum, collect fabric swatches and set the overall tone for the collection, ensuring that their creative vision carries through every element of the collection.
Below we share both prêt-à-porter and couture gown creations by some of the very best in the business. These exquisite designs are the perfect place to start when it comes to inspiring your bridal style.
For more of these haute bridal gowns, check out our behind-the-scenes videos to see these gowns in motion!
Our Carousel Studios Styling Kimberlee Kessler and Rosemary Slade assisted by Katelin Bosler Hair Rhiane Schroeder Makeup Helen Samaryan using Tom Ford Beauty Mirrors Decorative Events and Exhibitions Location Studio Neon Chokers Black ribbon and non-credited chokers are stylists' own Shoes Spend-less shoesPhotography