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Ask A Wedding Expert: Designing A Custom Dress

Everything you need to know about getting a made-to-order gown, straight from a storied Milanese atelier

Even with your wedding date fast approaching, it isn’t too late to go custom with your wedding gown. Although, ideally, the earlier the better to start the process, says couturier Annagemma Lascari. Lascari has been designing made-to-order wedding dresses in her atelier in Milan for over 20 years and has worked with the likes of Ferrè, Dior and Capucci during her impressive fashion career. From concepting the dress to final fittings, Lascari has extensive experience creating one-of-a-kind gowns for VIP clients. Here, Lascari breaks down what you need to know before customizing your own dress for the big day.

What should a bride do first if she wants to get a custom gown made?

When a bride is searching for her dress, she has to know that she wants a dress that reflects her own aesthetic and spirit. She should get to know the couturier and be open to the creative experience that is about to start. The bride has to have a relationship with the designer in order to feel comfortable, and this is one of my greatest strengths: to build a relationship with the bride as I meet her, allowing me to make her dream with our conversations and my atelier. The bride should go to a couturier that will make her feel perfect on a her most special day.

What is the custom gown design process like?

The process of a custom-made dress is an experience that starts the day the bride gets in touch with me. I meet with the bride and the friends or family she chooses to bring with her in the living room of my atelier. We chat about the bride, her occupation, her likes and dislikes, her future husband, the wedding and what she is looking for in dress.

All of this gives me guidelines. I take a pencil and start sketching her perfect dress as we speak. I then show her my archive of handmade embroidery samples, fabrics and accessories that can be used in her unique creation.

How long does the process take?

It takes me seconds to project the dress, but the duration of the construction process depends on each bride and wedding. I am able to design and create a gown in as little as one month, but ideally, the process  starts at minimum 6 months before the wedding. As I mentioned before, the process becomes the most precious experience for the bride. Knowing the wedding date, we can schedule the fittings and construction of the dress accordingly.

We have to have minimum 3 fittings before handing over the dress. First creating a prototype in lining, with the perfect cut, as if it was the final dress. This first prototype is used to see how the dress is fitted over her body and to give her the physic idea of her dress (first step from the sketch to the dress). From this first fitting, I start to modify the dress over her. This is when I play with the fabric, adding or removing pieces. The fabrics I use are exclusive fabrics of highest quality. Beyond this, I create each dress with handmade embroidery (if requested) and made-to-order accessories to complement the dress.

What is important for the bride to tell the designer?

For me, the only thing needed is to meet the bride to start designing her perfect dress. I have the capability knowing what she needs just by meeting her and having a regular chat.

What are the benefits of getting a custom-made gown vs. buying a ready to wear dress?

A custom-made gown reflects the bride. My creations are timeless because they reflect the spirit of the bride and are one-of-a-kind. In fact, I create every dress with the moments after the wedding in mind, allowing for the possibility of transforming the gown for use in different ways, for different future events, if the bride desires.

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