Choosing a couture Wedding gown was the only option for me, because despite the amount of stunning ready-to-wear pieces, I knew I wanted something different and a one-off dress that was distinctly ‘me’.
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With that in mind, I began the journey of creating my perfect gown with design team Lillian Khallouf and Dianne Khallouf, the sisters and powerhouses who make up the Lillian Khallouf brand. Over the last decade, the twosome have built the Lillian Khallouf name into an eponymous label that’s graced the covers of magazines and been worn by the likes of Delta Goodrem and Nicole Warne. Lillian’s training in dressmaking brings the ability to produce elegant silhouettes and incredible fit to the team, while Dianne uses her background in jewellery design to embellish each piece with one-off laces, hardware and beading, making them a match made in heaven.
From the very first time I met the pair, I very quickly realised that there’s so much more time, effort and thought that goes into creating a couture masterpiece than I initially thought. So, I’ve put together my personal account, detailing exactly what happens from the moment you choose a designer, to the moment you walk down the aisle.
The First Contact
When: Generally, this should happen 18-months before the Wedding
Before you decide on a designer, make sure you stalk their social media feeds to check out their work – and don’t just look at past Brides! Scroll through their eveningwear and even their ready-to-wear ranges as this will give you a clear indication of whether their aesthetic, craftsmanship and general ‘look and feel’ suits your taste.
After you’ve picked your ‘dream designer’, then comes the phone call. Lillian recommends that you call the designer to chat and make sure you let them know your Wedding date, as well as your budget, “That way, if there are any issues, your designer can let you know straight away over the phone.”
The First Appointment
When: On average, this will happen one-year before the Wedding
At your first appointment, you’ll get to meet your designer face-to-face and it will probably be at their showroom. Use this time to get up close and personal with the samples they have on display. Check-out the detail, finishes and the fabrics they use and make note of what you love and what you don’t. Your designer will chat with you about what style of gown you’re looking for, as well as give you advice on what will best suit your figure, what materials will work for your budget and the type of embellishments they recommend. You’ll also probably get the first sketch of your gown drawn, but be prepared for this look to change dramatically throughout the process as you both work together to find your ‘perfect fit’.
The Second Appointment
When: Aim for 10-months before the Wedding
The second appointment is when you get measured so that your designer can source the fabrics and embellishments for your gown. Lillian advises Brides to wear appropriate clothing to this appointment, so that the designer can measure you without too much hassle. “Try and avoid bulky layers when attending your second appointment, your designer can get the perfect measurements for you, without any discomfort,” she suggests. By the end of this appointment, you may have another sketch drawn, or have alterations to the original one.
The Third Appointment
When: 8 weeks before the Wedding
This is the appointment where you’ll finally get to try a calico version of your dream dress on, but be warned, it won’t be pretty yet! You’ll be handed a yellowish, textured fabric ‘dress’ to put on and your couturier will pin the excess material against your body, so it ends up perfectly fitted to every curve and crevice of your body. Your designer will then take this sample of your dress and use the size and shape to create the Wedding gown using the ‘fancy’ fabrics, like silk, lace and boning!
The Fourth Appointment
When: 4 Weeks
It’s only one month until the Wedding, so your designer will probably be doing the final calico fitting with you. You might find they wait until as close as possible before your Big Day to do the final measure – this is because they want it to fit as snug as possible; so from now on, you’re not allowed to lose or gain ANY weight!
The Fifth Appointment
When: One week
Your gown will be coming to life and the silhouette has been completed. There may be a few final alterations and some additions to the embellishments. This is your last chance to make sure your Wedding gown is a dream come true. When coming to this appointment, Lillian recommends that you make sure you bring appropriate underwear (“you can’t go wrong with a nude g-string”) and all of your Wedding accessories, including your shoes, jewellery and clutch. That way, you designer can do a final check to make sure the overall ‘look’ is on-point.
The Big Day
When: Your Wedding Day
Just before you walk down the aisle, you’ll finally slip on your gown. Sometimes, your designers will come along to help you get dressed, but if they can’t make it, be sure to brief your Bridesmaids so they know how to tie/button/clip you into your dress. If your gown has to go over your head (ie. you can’t step into it to get dressed), have a silk pillowcase to gently slip over your head before putting the gown on; this will help prevent any hair or makeup smudges.
Get ready to be blown away, because this will be the first time you see your completed look – and your couture masterpiece will be the cherry on top of your Wedding Day cake!
If you’re looking for your own dream couture gown, make sure you check-out the very talented, Lillian Khallouf. With her creations featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle and worn by the likes of Nicole Warne, Sophia Richie and Delta Goodrem, Lillian Khallouf is renowned for her chic, elegant and high-fashion gowns, as well as her impeccable fits.