Introducing Elissa Marie – an elevated gown design experience
Designing and creating a dream gown for your dream day is such a special part of the planning process, however, we know how overwhelming it can feel to take the plunge – how are you to know when to say yes to the dress, and where on earth to begin?
We are so lucky to work with passionate creatives like Elissa Marie, who could very well be the talented local designer you have been waiting for.
With a glorious Gippsland-based studio (but also offering regular Melbourne appointments), Elissa makes the gown creation process a dream.
We are always curious about what goes into the design process, how to achieve the perfect gown and what you can expect from custom creation process, so we were thrilled to have Elissa share her talent and expertise with us.
Read about her creative process here and then get set to get giddy for a glorious gown of your own.
We adore that your designs are bespoke and both designed and made here in Victoria, could you tell us about your process and how brides usually engage your services?
I break down my process into four different steps.
Consultation: This is our chance to meet and discuss the style, vision and ideas for your gown. We will share all your wedding plans so far, so you will have a gown to suit your personal style as well as complement the distinct aesthetic of your wedding.
Custom design: Based on your consultation, I compile and sketch designs that will start to bring all your ideas into reality. At this point, your dress will start to evolve, and we can really start to see it take form.
Fabric Selection: You will be transported to Melbourne’s best fabric suppliers, giving you options from around the world. I will be beside you the whole time, you will have expert guidance to help you hand-select the perfect fabrics for your gown.
Made to measure: Your gown is ready to become something real. I will meticulously hand make every feature of your gown and provide you with a perfect fit. Every aspect will be applied using the finest couture techniques.
Ultimately, we work together until your one and only gown fits you perfectly from top to toe.
What are some of the benefits of working with a designer on a custom gown?
Fit: Firstly, it starts with the fit. I build gowns starting with their exact measurements. But in addition to exact measurements, I assess what angles and design lines will enhance each client’s proportions. And talk to them about how they want to feel, what they would like to show off or flatter. During the pattern-making (drafting) or draping process I have the beautiful bride in mind, so every pencil mark I make, or pin placement is just for them.
Design: My clients are dreamers and through consultation, sketches, and fabric samples I bring their ideas to life. This is step one. During the rest of their journey with me I strive to take their gowns further than they could ever have dreamed of.
I am constantly told one of the best things about having a custom gown made was the personalised service. The brides directly communicate with me and see me at all their fittings. This makes my clients feel special and supported. Your fittings, with plenty of Prosecco, chocolates and dressmaking pins are like mini events in the lead up to the wedding. With all other vendors you must wait for the wedding day to see their talents. With me it’s a journey that you can enjoy alone or with your whole wedding party. I love seeing my clients bubble with excitement every time they come for a fitting, they tell me it has renews their anticipation for their wedding day.
Your designs are so unique, where do you draw inspiration?
As a custom designer I specialise in drawing my inspiration from each client. To put it methodologically:
Clients’ initial ideas: We talk design details, silhouette, what they do or don’t want. A lot of the time I am pulling my sketch pad out and bringing a handful of concepts into one beautiful design.
Wedding details: I really love to have as much detail as possible about the rest of their wedding plans. For example, the venue. I love to visualise where the gown will be set. Or I love to know their chosen photographer and their style, because it helps me determine the mood they are trying to evoke.
A cool example of this is a current client I have. We were trying to pick between a soft silk crepe-de-chine or a new fabric I have developed with my supplier that is a little heavier, that gives bolder drape and lines. After hearing her fiancé was an architect and the backdrop to their ceremony was contemporary black panelled windows, I knew the bolder fabric was the pick.
A client’s personality: I love working one-on-one with the people who will wear my gowns. I get to know them well and find their personality comes out in the subtle design details I make.
If I am not working directly with a client and making a gown to inspire future brides, it all starts with fabric. I walk into my fabric suppliers, and something will catch my eye. Then it is all over and I must have it. Millions of designs fly through my head. You will see two of the killer fabrics in these photos.
How and where do you source fabrics?
My clients come with me to my fabric suppliers, and we hand select their wedding gown fabric, laces and details. There are not many left in Melbourne, but I have a few gems that give me access to the very best fabrics from across the world.
Working from a gorgeous showroom such as yours must be such a joy – what does a typical day in the life of Elissa look like?
With the fussy temperament of an artist, I require the perfect conditions to do my work. It’s annoying but I have almost cracked the code.
I need to be in the ‘zone’ to create my best work. Which means I need an inspiring studio set up and to be uninterrupted or distracted.
So, I do things a bit differently.
My working day doesn’t start till 8pm and I work late into the night finishing at 2:30am. Crazy I know, but I find the night is still and calm, my beautiful family are all tucked away in bed and I can really find my ‘flow state’ and make it happen. Particularly when I am doing highly creative design work.
Before I roll out my fabric rolls, I roll out my mat to do a quick 20min HITT workout or Yoga session. I find this helps focus me for the Studio session and gets me in the zone quicker.
This is always followed by a bucket of black coffee!
I will then have set up an option of two client’s gowns to work on. And I go with what gown I’m in the mood to work on. When you put so much love and passion into something you can’t force it, so this little tactic lets me go with my mood but also still allows the work to get done.
What happens next is my ‘happy place’. I immerse myself into crafting beautiful pieces of art that will be worn on someone’s most precious day. It is such an honour. Not one detail is rushed, everything is painstakingly refined to perfection.
How might a bride, unsure of her own style or wedding day vision, approach the custom gown process with you?
A lot of the time clients come to me with a basic outline of what they would like, and we develop it into a gown they love.
If you are a person who doesn’t know what they want and want to be nurtured through the process to find something you would love, I’m your girl.
I recommend we meet at my fabric suppliers’ showroom, so we are surrounded by beautiful inspiration. Then we talk about your wedding plans, the last outfit that made you feel amazing and details that you love. I sketch ideas for you on the spot and drape fabrics on you in front of mirrors to help illustrate what your gown could become. It truly is a bespoke design experience with me, reminiscent of the romantic bygone era of dressmaking.
Can you work with brides unable to make it to your Gippsland studio?
Absolutely. In fact, most of my brides are from Melbourne and inner suburbs. Every second weekend I have a beautiful suite at The Como Melbourne in South Yarra to meet in luxury for your fittings.
What do you think makes for the ‘perfect’ gown? Is it fit, fabric, or something else?
What makes the perfect gown is when the gown complements the bride’s personality and figure perfectly.
That is why it is so important to me to work directly one-on-one with brides and not set up the type of business where it is a made to order type model and all personal touch is taken out.
Let’s talk trends, what are you anticipating we will see on the bridal fashion front for the year ahead?
Opulence – whether this is seen through sparkles and embellishments (FYI huge trend coming up) or a simple gown crafted from an extremely luxurious pure silk. Opulence signifying the huge desire to ‘get back to the party’
Romance – alternatively brides who are planning more intimate weddings are draping themselves in romantic sheer details and fine laces. Really focusing on the heart of the ceremony and evoking all the feels of the union between lovers.
For a custom gown experience like no other, we highly recommend you get in touch with Elissa Marie and be sure to let her know we sent you.
Photos by Kinship By Kristy