On Choosing Colette Komm by L. H. Grant
A week after my engagement, on a flight from New York to Phoenix, I found myself sitting next to the head of Oscar de la Renta Bridal. I’d seen the collection online and loved it — one gown in particular. “Why don’t you meet me in Scottsdale and you can try it on?” The dress search has ended before it’s even begun, I thought to myself.
Two days later I was standing in front of a full-length mirror wearing the gown I thought would be “the one.” But something was off. It wasn’t that the dress wasn’t beautiful or that it wasn’t flattering on me. Everything was lovely. There was just something that felt too manufactured about it — like a photoshopped image or a library filled with decorative books that have never been opened. I returned to New York empty handed.
Back home I visited more bridal salons, tried on more dresses and left with the same feeling I’d had in Scottsdale. It wasn’t until I walked into Colette’s studio that I found the authenticity I’d been looking for.
I once heard it said that great art is great not because of the questions it answers, but because of the questions it asks. As Colette showed me each gown in her collection, I found myself wanting to know more: how long it takes to hand-stitch each petal onto one dress, how she makes a skirt look like meringue peaks, how her gowns can at once be so exquisitely detailed, yet convey such a feeling of absolute simplicity.
As she told me about her creation process, and I watched her delicately handle each dress, I could see what made these gowns so different. Colette knew each stitch; she’d sewn each one with her own two hands. These dresses were never in a factory, never shuffled through a line of seamstresses, never a concept sketch sent to a sample room to interpret. Because Colette sees each creation from bride to sketch to pattern to muslin to gown back to bride, the final product has a sense of life, of history to it. Her gowns are Parisian architecture; the others, cookie cutter subdivisions.
On my wedding day the beauty of Colette’s work was evident not just to me, but to my guests — and not just to those who follow fashion. A dressmaker commented that she’d sewn hundreds of gowns but never managed to make any seem like they were an actual extension of the bride. “The dress is like part of your skin the way it moves on you,” she said. A retired police chief — a man I’ve known my whole life who has never taken any notice of fashion — was so struck by my gown that he said, “that’s exactly how I want my daughter to look on her wedding day.”
As for me, the greatest compliment I can pay to Colette and to the integrity of her creative process is to genuinely tell the truth: I have never seen a wedding dress — before or since my wedding — that I find more beautiful than the one she made for me. And for that, I thank her.