Friday, April 29, 2016

INDIE DESIGNER SHOPS: those little places they used to call boutiques . . . .

Yesterday's posts on Instagram got me thinking about bridal gown shopping off the beaten path of your average salon.  Because brides are changing so are designers, myself included.  Fashion historian that I am, I'm glad to see the reinvention of the home grown designer boutique whether it is digital, brick and mortar or a combination of both. Etsy boutiques have become the best fashion labs for designers as well as clients.  My own little work space/studio and the brides I work with have been one of my greatest sources of joy.  No matter where you live in the world, I'm sure your area has more than a couple Etsy designers who open up their stores or in-home boutiques to clients.    With a little imagination and the help of professionals, you might be able to put some stunning looks together.

Header Photo: Dresses from The Forever Boho Collection  ABOVE: Laura in The OPAL Dress
BELOW: The images below were taken by photographer, Joy Strotz in my studio one day when we were preparing for a shoot with the lovely Sabrina. So nicely shot, I thought I'd share my many years of observance a little of what a bride to be goes through that first fit appointment. As a rule most are experiencing a lot of emotions--all happy and good--and the dressis a symbol of everything she's feeling. Even the most practical bride melts when she sees herself for the first time in the dress she knows is going to be hers . . . .
These dresses are from The Bouffant Collection and mostly in taffetas and satins, ideal fabrics for those styles Jackie, Grace and Audrey made so chic. Bouffant is based on a bell shaped or petal skirt that poufs at the hips via pleats or gathers (usually pleats). Also you'll find the fitted sheath style--as snug up top in the bodice as it is at the hemline-- a perfect candidate for heavier luxe fabrics that hold shape well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


The shorter ‘fashionista' veil has gone trendy the past few years. Once upon a time, short veils belonged to the city hall and informal wedding paired with street-length skirts. Worn with more formal gowns they seemed out of the ordinary –very outside the traditional bridal box till a few vintage designers brought them back. There's something chic, even edgy about a bride sporting one. As early as the 1990s, Vera Wang paired up short, pouf veils with very formal gowns. Whether she wanted to show off the extraordinary back details of her gowns or usher in a new look, I don’t know; I only know the juxtaposition this duo created worked.
Brides say the best thing about wearing a shorter veil is, not having to do any adjusting in that switch from the solemnity of ceremony to big time partying hearty. Short veils are easy to maneuver around in and stay put whether you’re exchanging vowels, cutting cake or dancing,

Bird Cage or Net Pouf-Left: These have gone trendy the past few years thanks to vintage designers.Made of either netting or tulle, this veil falls above the shoulder line.  Since it’s a shorter style, it tends to look structured, more hybrid of headpiece and veil.  Great for fashionistas. ABOVE: The Bird Cage Veil. BELOW: The Bubble Cage and Tulle Head Pouf.
Blusher or Flyaway A fly away is typically attached to the back while the blusher is a short veil worn over the face during the ceremony.  Can also be worn shoulder length in layers.  Although considered informal, this is the choice of some chic, formal-gowned brides.
Blusher or Flyaway A fly away is typically attached to the back while the blusher is a short veil worn over the face during the ceremony.  Can also be worn shoulder length in layers.  Although considered informal, this is the choice of some chic, formal-gowned brides. ABOVE: Fly Away Veil tacked to the back of a chignon. BELOW: Fly Away veil attached to a cloche headpeice///Short and Full Blusher Veil
All Veils and dresses by Amy-Jo Tatum

Top Photo: Henley Photography//Blusher veil with scattered stephanotis
Photo 2: Smoot Photography
Photo 3:Sweet Light Studios//From The Bride's Head Revisited Shoot
Photo 4: Dominic Colacchio Photography//From The City Chic Shoot//
Photos 5 and 6: By Piamage Photography from The Veiled Shoot
Photo 7: By Bride Chic

Monday, April 25, 2016


The Awesome Shooter Series focusing on photographers from San Francisco to Stockholm who honor me by shooting my gowns, always inspires.  Today I have one of the best  styled shoots we've posted!  Recently we spent a beautiful and sunny day in the wine country with wedding photographer, Allyson Wiley who with so much sensitivity and skill captured these portraits of the lovely, Brea.  A study of pure Boho in every way, we dressed Brea in my Belinda Corset and skirt from The Forever Boho Collection.  All this styled inspiration was organized by hair and make up artist Julie Morgan who worked her magic on Brea's beautiful long locks.   Sometimes all you need is a great patch of nature to create the ideal elements for a wedding. The picturesque Batholomew Park Winery in Sonoma was the  perfect canvas for our coordinated efforts.  Thank you ladies and Bartholomew Winery for a perfect day in the country  . . . . .!
Hair and Make up by Julie Morgan
Gown and Hair Ornament by Amy-Jo Tatum
Model: Brea

Friday, April 22, 2016


Here's a preview of a coming attraction you won't want to miss.  Napa-based wedding photographer, Allyson Wiley will be featured on our Awesome Shooter series next week.  A few weeks back we did a styled shoot out at Batholomew Park Winery in Sonoma, and what a lovely group of wedding pros I had to work with organized by the super-talented Julie Morgan.  More next week . . . .

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Has it been that many years since Edgar and I said, "I do" inside a castle?   Today is my own wedding anniversary, a chance to look back on so much that's happened and by way of pictures share all the joy and hopefully a little inspiration with you. I have to say our love and commitment is stronger today than it ever has been, probably because of all we've been through.  I do remember wanting a wedding with lots of kids like Europeans have.   In Europe, kids make up the wedding party almost entirely ranging in age anywhere from  3 to 13.  For me children also represent fertility and continuance of life. Their dresses were silk taffeta, organza and Chantilly laces and my page was dressed in a kilt with a tartan matching my groom's family. All these dresses were an absolute joy to design.
    As a bridal designer you can't imagine how jazzed I was to get engaged.  The first thing I did of course was mentally design my dress.  My then fiancee had one request: He wanted to wear full Scottish regalia including kilt, jacket, sporn, tartan, the works.  It didn't take long for the dress above to evolve in my head.  Once it did I made a beeline to Britex Fabrics in San Francisco,so stoked was I to get on with the creative process of fashioning myself as a bride.   What Toys R Us would be to a kid, Britex Fabrics is to the designer: An emporium chock full of extraordinary fabrics sourced from all over the world. Back to my dress, the lace was imported from Paris and most of the silk florals you see were found in the bridal notions department; the rest were hand-rolled silk dupioni.  Not bad for one day's shopping . . . 

 Every story has a happy ending or in this case, beginning . . . . . . .
My flower girl, Sierra eventually got together with my nephew, Nathan.  They met at the wedding and ironically ended up going to the same high school.  They've been together ever since and last December had their first child, Liam pictured below.    Who'a guessed?
Gowns by Amy-Jo Tatum
Most Photos by Hope Stewart Photography (retired)
Cake by Shannan Hobbs
All the flowers were from our own family gardens