Kate’s Bodice


This is a bodice I made for my couture bride, Kate, who was referred to me by her bridal stylist, Jackie Weppner, of Merci New York, after experiencing a wedding gown nightmare: the custom gown she had purchased from another designer didn’t fit her torso and they were frustrated and confused by a variety of aesthetic concerns with her particular gown which had not been an issue when she had tried on the original sample and bought the dress.



(The gown she had first tried on was most likely an actual runway sample; this is something brides should be aware of before buying a gown: designers will often send their runway samples out for trunk shows, but the production version of that gown can vary significantly in construction, fabrication, detailing and even design in order for them to be cost-effectively reproduced.)


When we all met to discuss what I could do to fix the problems there were only two months before Kate’s wedding. I had another gown to finish for one of my brides getting married at around the same time as Kate, so it would have been impossible to make an entirely new gown. And though Kate was at her wit’s end, second guessing the purchase of her gown in the first place and wishing she had found me sooner, Jackie and I were certain that I could address all the issues she had with the original gown by re-designing the bodice, replacing the interior of the skirt and creating something that she would feel spectacular in.

Kate Barone & Dominic Tropiano

She wanted to feel light and tiny in her wedding gown, and the original bodice weighed her down and swallowed up her tiny frame. The way it was constructed gave her – for lack of a better term – a mono-boob, and she wanted her bustline to be defined, yet minimized. She was uncomfortable in the gown and kept feeling the need to pull the bodice up to cover her bustline.  The interior of the skirt needed to be replaced; the skirt layers were prone to be tripped over, and the lining was too tight for Kate and her husband to do their choreographed first dance in, which required her to be able to kick up her leg. Essentially, I would create an entirely “new dress” and re-purpose the existing outer skirt layers.


In this photo of the original bodice (with the lace removed) over top of the one I made from her measurements you can see how the original was nearly two inches too short in the waist; no wonder she felt like she was constantly on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction in the original gown! In addition, the bodice had several layers of fabric where much fewer would have sufficed, and this unnecessary layering created the bulkiness that Kate didn’t want, especially around the neckline, where the thickness of the seam allowances created an unflattering ridge.


To make Kate’s bodice I used my special bustier construction techniques to create a light-as-air but highly constructed bodice that would give her the wrinkle-free, flawlessly defined figure that she was seeking. As you can see from the next photo, it’s sturdy enough to stand up on its own, but thin enough that light streaming through my window on a sunny afternoon filters right through it.


The waistline of the original gown had been rather abrupt, where the opaque, dense bodice met the ethereal, airy skirt. I changed it so that the juncture of the two elements seamlessly melded into each other, and adjusted the angles and proportions of the dropped waistline to be more flattering to Kate’s figure. And, as always, I added functional lace covered buttons to the back of the bodice (where there had been none on the original).



When the gown was complete we were all extremely happy with the results, no one more than Kate herself. While wearing the gown during the final fitting with her mother present, as well as Jackie, and her wedding planner, Lauren, she ecstatically proclaimed, “It’s perfect, it’s perfect, it’s perfect, it’s perfect! This is exactly how I always wanted to feel in my wedding dress!”


If you’d like to see Kate in her gown on her wedding day, her wedding, photographed by Christian Oth Studios, was featured on Style Me Pretty recently. Special thanks to Jackie Weppner of Merci New York, for the referral, and to Kate’s wedding planner, Lauren Sozmen, of Loli Events, who was extremely helpful in coordinating fittings with the bride who lives in Ohio. And of course, congratulations to my couture bride, Kate, and her husband Dominic!

Jenn – Salt Lake City, Utah

I’m excited to finally share photos of one of my latest Couture Brides, Jenn! She was a dream to work with and I’ve had fun sifting through all of her wedding photos by Heather Nan Photography to find these, my favorites of her and the gown I made for her.

After Jenn’s initial design consultation the three absolute-must-haves for her dress were that it had to have sleeves, she wanted it to show her collarbones because that’s her favorite feature, and she really liked tulle.

Less important were that it be an A-line or ball-gown silhouette—with not too much of a train—and that she also liked “sparkly stuff” but was not dead set on it…

With those criteria in mind I thought about it for the next few days. After drawing the first sketch I knew she was going to pick it, so I held off on doing any more drawings until I could prove my hunch. This was indeed her dress! When she saw it she loved it and that was that!

At the time of her design consultation, the wedding was going to take place in Newport Beach in March, so I did the original sketch with very slight cap sleeves and gave her the option of doing a longer 3/4 length sleeve depending on how the dress evolved; I would drape it both ways to decide what looked best on her when we fit the muslin. But before I got to making the muslin the location of the wedding was changed to Salt Lake City (same time of year), so we decided to go ahead with the longer sleeve since it would look and feel more appropriate in the colder climate. That’s one of the great things about doing a custom gown; it can evolve and change to perfectly suit many different criteria.


The gown is actually two separate pieces: a tulle and organza skirt, and the gown, which is more like a jacket with a train (in double face duchess satin—the same fabric I used to make my sister’s wedding gown). Jenn was planning to wear the gown as pictured for the whole wedding and reception, so I constructed it accordingly, but for a bride that just wanted to have shoulders and arms covered for the wedding ceremony I could have easily made the skirt underneath into a gown of its own with a strapless bodice or corset. Again, that’s the beauty of doing a custom gown—making it unique to the bride who will be wearing it.

Congratulations to Jenn and her husband! They are a lovely couple, and, as always, I enjoyed getting to know them and having such a special role to play for their big day!