Monday, June 30, 2008

LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION: Track Back Half a Century

Your bridal gown search doesn't have to begin by looking at what's new now and what's white. You can start by shopping for ideas going for tried and true shapes that have survived time. Looking at these mid-century gowns by American designer Charles James leaves me with the question: Where oh where did he lget his inspiration? Now, half a century later, these gowns look very 1950s Vogue. Back then though they echoed past times. His muse probably led him back a century to a time when wide skirts like the one above were norm.

If you want to see more of Charles James work, go to

Sunday, June 29, 2008


*You wear a shocking pink faille suit and get married at noon mid-week.

*You wear a gown that’s different—you look more like a Spanish dancer than bride in three tiers of ruffles that’s short in front and falls to a train in back. You carry a fan instead of flowers. You marry on a hillside overlooking miles of vineyards.

*You wear a long bouffant lace gown with fresh flowers in your hair instead of a veil. You’ve driven up the coast to a B&B just to get married in the garden there.

*You wear an ivory crocheted lace mini dress and very long antique lace veil. Your wedding is in a country chapel and you carry your grandmother’s Bible instead of flowers.

*You wear a vintage gown from the 1930s with white gloves and a cocktail hat. The ceremony and reception are in an art gallery doing a David Hockney retrospective.

*You wear an ankle-length ballet dress with a wreath of flowers around your head. You marry in the forest while a flutist plays, Afternoon of a Fawn.
*Your gown is blue satin. You elope.

*You wear a double-breasted white suit with a wide brimmed felt hat and carry a single red rose. After you and your groom leave city hall you celebrate with four friends at a local restaurant.

*You wear an antique lace tea gown with a mantilla and carry three roses you picked out of your friend’s garden. And your friend’s hosting your wedding with high tea and sandwiches served on sterling silver and Haviland china.

*You wear a street-length A-line dress in all over Chantilly lace with a bird-cage veil. You and your groom board the ferry and after it takes off you have your nuptials on board. Your reception is on the other side of the bay once you dock.

*You wear an ivory suede sheath under a black leather jacket. Your veil is a long scarf. After tying the knot in a city park, you and your groom take off on his Harley. You don’t know where you’re going for your honeymoon yet.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

SHADES OF WHITE: The World of Bridal Fabrics

Bet you had no idea there were so many shades of white till you started looking for a wedding gown. How a cloth reflects or absorbs light has a lot to do with the particular weave of a fabric. So what’s a weave you ask? And how is a weave different than the fiber of which it is a part? Every fabric has a certain weave whether it’s a natural fiber, blend or synthetic. Think of the weave as a threading process—warp threads going vertically, weft horizontally. Woven together they can be loose, tight or somewhere in between to produce a certain finish. For example, you hear the word twill all the time. Twill is a type of weave. It’s diagonal actually and can be either silk, cotton or wool. While silk twill generally produces a garment with an entirely different function than that of cotton twill, the weave is similar . . . Read More . . . .

Friday, June 27, 2008


Photos: Bill Smoot Photography /All Right Reserved

Since we've been talking so much about head chic these past couple weeks, I just had to share photographer Bill Smoot's photos with you. Not only does this lovely bride have exquisite hairdressing, gold extensions were added to amp the glamour. Notice how her drop veil echoes the detail on her dress, dappled in small crystals.

If you happen to be a San Francisco Bay Area bride, check in with Stas at Metamorphosis Salon in San Francisco You'll get a more in depth look at some of the exquisite, custom designed hairdressing.
For another treat you can see more of Bill Smoot's photos at: One of his strengths as a photographer is his incredible use of light. Check out his montage sequence in the wedding section . . . for me each photo is like a short story, catching that one moment in time.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Its no secret, lately I’m in love with cotton. Most of us associate it with everyday wear. From durable work clothes to delicate casuals, PC Cotton Council ads hype how hip it is to step into good old versatile cotton. Since cotton is the ultimate in laid-back casual these days, we rarely think of it in terms of bridal wear. Think again. Especially about organdy and swiss cotton. “Melissa” here is a fine example of what you can do with 4 yards of imported eyelet batiste. The formal bouffant silhouette in an easy fabric makes the perfect summer wedding dress. And did you know first-rate cottons like these have always been a stylish option for summer brides and garden weddings? They lend themselves well to the once popular daytime formal garden reception —the kind Audrey Hepburn would have attended. I’ve added 5 cotton pieces to the collection recently and more ideas for next year keep dancing around in my head.

Click photos to enlarge

Inspiration for this dress came from a variety of sources. Mostly all those Vogue and Butterick patterns lying around the house when I was growing up that had images of bouffant dresses. Yes, in the early sixties this style was really hot and women even wore it grocery shopping. If you don't believe me just check out any episode of Perry Mason . . .

Want to see more? Visit the gown gallery

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

TRENDS 2008: The Natural Waistline

Photo by
Seems like decades since we’ve seen so many gowns sporting a natural waist. Until recently bridal designers typically offered two kinds of waist: dropped and empire. True, a dropped waist makes a woman look longer and leaner while empires camouflage short, thick waists and ample hips. The natural waistline however is one of fashion’s best-kept secrets. Christian Dior knew this when he revived it in 1947 with his celebrated hourglass. While not for everyone, the natural waist works for most body types and creates a great symmetry and overall picture of you.

Gowns by Amy-Jo Tatum

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


click to enlarge

Finding international wedding photographer Critsey Rowe's awesome portfolio totally blew me away. When I first laid eyes on her work, I thought she might be one of those photographers who covered VIP weddings for some fashion glossy. Having a talent for putting together exquisite compositions, she's actually a wedding photographer comissioned to do work all over the world. Personally, I think Critsey's clients look like they just stepped out of the pages of Grace Ormonde or Paris Vogue.

The montage above focuses on those of her clients all having something in common. Notice how each chose to replace the traditional veil with their own particular version of head chic. Just look at the array of choices here--flowers, hair bling, plumage, a wisp of netting, exqusite hairdressing. Once unheard of, going without a veil is now a fashionable option. Want more choices? For more info about headwear go to

Monday, June 23, 2008


A Romantic touch. 3/4 length sleeves with an organza ruffle trimmed in Swiss cotton edging.From a designer’s point of view, sleeves can be one of the most creative components of a gown. For me, a well-designed sleeve is a work of art; it combines fabric and adornment into the overall image of the gown.
Above: The long fitted sleeves in cut velvet are an option for warm weather
Besides looking beautiful, the right sleeves can add bodice appeal as well as keep your skirt or sloping shoulders in proportion. Although not foremost, keeping arms warm could be another option for wearing sleeves. Once upon a time etiquette dictated the length sleeve you could wear during winter months or time of day you got married. Fortunately these restrictions were lifted long ago. Nowadays, you can go for long sleeves in summer, short caps in winter if that’s your desire. Be realistic though. Just make sure you have a decent wrap or stole in New York for your December wedding. As for long sleeves next July in Palm Springs, go for them. Ever since Vera Wang popularized the detachable sleeve that ties and unties from your gown’s bodice, brides still opt for them.

When choosing a sleeve, think of them in terms having their very own silhouette within the outline of your gown as a whole. At left are 3/4 caplet sleeves of Chantilly lace. At right, short cap sleeves.

Gowns: AmyJo Tatum

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Did you know you can wear a hat by itself or use it as a headpiece for a veil? Either is an option. I'm seeing more brides these days trading in the traditional veil for a hat. Complimentry to today's designs, hats are still an unexpected element. If you're thinking this direction check out your options and read more . . .

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Gowns by Amy-Jo Tatum
Photos by ejones photography

Incorporating touches of vintage into your look? You probably have that love of ‘things past’. I adore designing gowns that are retro-inspired and the look just happens to be hot right now: Think 1920’s chemises, Jean Harlow body hugging silhouettes in white satin, 50s halter tops with full skirts . . . Go for it!

This lace chiffon evokes 1930s chic. Chantilly lace and silk chiffon pair up in this evening gown silhouette with a sweep train and Chantilly lace wrap.

Marilyn . . . .My 1950s ‘Going Away’ bride is headed for a drive up the coast to that country inn in her crepe halter dress and silk chiffon scarf. A casual and elegant look.

Does the idea of a teatime wedding intrigue you? Go Gatsby in this hand beaded Chantilly lace chemise with layers of silk chiffon handkerchief skirts. Perfect for the outdoor garden wedding and reception.

This empire waist echoes early 19th century design. Silk dupion with a gauze sash and hand rolled floral has both a past as well as contemporary feeling to it.

All photos by Erika Jones of ejones photography, All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 20, 2008


Bartone Photography--All Rights Reserved

In light of today's subject, I couldn't resist posting this awesome photo by Laurence Bartone Why am I seeing more kids in my design studio these days? In the tradition of European weddings, clients are starting to coordinate bridal parties made up primarily of kids. My own wedding was a good case in point. We had one adult attendant (maid of honor) and six kids swathed in tulle and floral wreaths ranging in age from twelve to two.
To read more on kid chic, go to

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Rosalee is an updated version of a gown we had in the collection a couple seasons back called 'Rosemary'. Revised, Rosalee is trimmed in gray satin ribbon on both the top and skirt. This design is actually two pieces: a silk shantung strapless A-line underneath a tulle detachable overskirt. The skirt is dappled with small silk rosettes and has a sweep train. Inspiration for this gown came from the photo below of who else but chic Audrey Hepburn starring in Sabrina.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Marite and Chris knew from the start they wanted their wedding at The Olema Inn and Restaurant. Just a few miles from Point Reyes National Seashore, it is an ideal spot for those smaller, more intimate gatherings. Though quaint these days, Olema Inn started out with a rugged history, originally a hot spot and gathering place for loggers in the 1870s. Guests flew in from all over the world (mostly from South America) to this little country inn to celebrate with Marite and Chris . . . .
The best thing I can say about working with Marite: at no point did she stress out over small details.  Add to that a positive attitude that's contagious and she's a dream client. She ordered the 'Isme' gown from the Harlowesque Collection in a 4-ply crepe.  Here's one shot of  her gown showing off the body-hugging silk crepe, lined in habotai. The hand-rolled florals on her side drape and in her hair were handmade out of the same fabric as her gown. Here she's modeling an embossed chiffon stole. She's truly gorgeous here, her joy so apparent.

Periwinkles, lavender, green and orange were colors Marite and Chris worked into their day through florals, the food everyone ate and accents in their clothing. Looking at these magnificent arrangements from Verde Flowers, I think of nature enhanced.

Orange tulips and mixed foilage.

Sweet peas, Lillies of the Valley and Hyacinth make a beautiful bouquet.

A vanilla confection by Fat Angel Bakery, tastes as delicious as it looks. Inside: strawberries and whipped cream.

Here's one shot of Marite's gown, a body-hugging silk crepe, lined in habotai. The hand-rolled florals on her side drape and in her hair were handmade out of the same fabric as her gown. Here she's modeling an embossed chiffon stole. She's truly gorgeous here, her joy so apparent.

Ain't she sweet? Daughter Natalia's dress is a cotton/silk blend. The lavender underskirt and sash are made of linen. She is carrying a handmade basket by Cindy Brooks of Brass Paper Clip.

Kudos to Amy Perl who showed such sensitivity photographing Marite, Chris and Natalia in their most intimate moments here.
I'll be quiet now; brilliant photography needs no words . . .

And we couldn't have done it all without . . . .

Photography: Amy Perl Photography  
Gown and Dresses: Amy-Jo Tatum Bridal Couture
Site and Catering: The Olema Inn
Flowers: Verde Flowers