At just twenty-nine years of age, designer Paul Vasileff has truly made his mark in the fashion industry with his unique skill and the scope of his creative vision. The young boy who learned to sew with his grandmother, has built a label that has become a national icon.
Our Founder and Creative Director, Wendy El-Khoury, chatted with Paul on a Wedded Wonderland‘s recent Instagram Live – and it was amazing. Paul spoke about COVID-19’s impact on his label, current work, passion and future aspirations, whilst providing a wealth of advice for brides to be!
“I think everyone’s in the same boat, it’s a strange time for everyone, and we’re all trying to find out space in it. Here at the Atelier, we’re doing lots of cleaning and archiving, so that when we’re back in full force we’re good to go. We’re trying to really plan out what the next six months-to-year will look like. We’re also doing plenty of housekeeping in regards to clients. The fact that we work so far ahead in advance with them, means that we need to rework schedules.”
“It’s all about reassuring everyone that although having to postpone is horrible, it’s for the best. I said to my clients: “When you do have your wedding, you’ll be able to do it with everyone you love, you’ll be able to kiss and hug them, instead of worrying about getting sick.” Postponed couples should try to look at the silver lining.”
“Everyone is trying to make-do. I’ve heard some really nice stories about vendors’ accommodating for couples, because the fact is that we’re all in this together. People are being very considerate and careful, and we’re working as much as we can. I think that the sole traders have been hit the hardest, because they’re usually not in a team, and so rebooking clients will be particularly difficult. For us, all the work that we’re not able to do at the moment, will need to be pushed out and slotted in-between our other clients. The next six months will be very busy and we need to have this downtime now, because no one knows what the rest of the year will be like.”
“Interestingly enough, we have been using Skype for a very long time to reach out to our clients, especially international ones. And so, adapting to the current situation hasn’t been so hard. The process begins with a client consultation, where I get to know who they are and their plans, and get ideas on paper. Couture is so personalised, it represents you – and that’s why I love it. Embroidery, styles, colours, everyone’s different!”
“I had a client that was obsessed with astrology and coordinates so she asked me to embroidery different coordinates onto her dress, such as where she had met her fiancé. Our designs are all about feeling special and transformed. Whenever you buy something that is special to you, you feel amazing – and you especially want that when it comes to your wedding gown. We look at silhouettes and get an idea of what we want to highlight – I personally love highlighting the waistline. Then, I come up with a sketch for the client, and if she likes it, we go ahead and take measurements over Skype.”
“I also love having clients create mood boards for me, to understand their style and expectations. Additionally, we’re happy to tweak and change the design as much as possible. We make sure that the fit is perfect and once we have confirmed colours and fabrics, we start making it. Then, we have about 3 fittings.”
How long does it take to create a Paolo Sebastian gown?
“We sit at around four to six months right now, but I don’t know what this will look like moving forward. It also depends on the dress, because if you have something heavily embroided or beaded, it may take longer.”
“Its a simple thing of loving to work with clients, and loving the feeling a person’s look gives me. A Cinderella transformation. People don’t wear gowns on a day-to-day basis, making this process is so special. Taking people on this journey and watching them get excited, seeing the bride swish her skirt for the first time and watching her face…”
“Each dress presents its own challenges, so what I’m really proud of at Paolo Sebastian, is that we have developed lots of new techniques and combined them with the old world. The team always experiments, and when something works really well, we share an excitement that keeps us moving forward. I want it to be more than clothing, I want it to be a story that transforms people, and I want to be the person that does this.”
“At this stage, no one knows what’s coming in regards to timing. But, take the time to plan things now. Whenever a friend or client gets engaged, the first thing I say to them is to make a mood board. This is a good tool to keep with you throughout the planning process. Planning events can be very overwhelming, and I get that with my events too. When I was in Paris, I had my mood board for the collection and always looked back at it when making decisions regarding the lighting, florals, invitations, etc. If you’re not sure about an element of your wedding, put it next to your mood board and see how it fits. If it doesn’t, feel free to keep looking.”
“Also, a lot of clients come to me thinking that they have to make all the decisions on our first chat, and they’re shocked when I tell them they have a few months. Being a flexible supplier is important.”
“Ever since I was 12 I knew I wanted my own label. I always wanted to be a Haute Couture designer. My aim is still, and always has been, to reach the tier of Haute Couture. This year, we were supposed to be in Paris in June, but right now we’re trying to think of how we want to showcase our new collection. Fashion is a form of escapism and dreaming, and at this time, it is important that we to allow people to dream. We want to deliver something inspirational.”
“In the nearer future, shoes is something that we’re really looking at because it’s something we are constantly being asked about. At the start of the year, we had our rebranding and made allowances for e-commerce. Hopefully in twenty years, the fragrances and men’s line will follow.”
“The only thing I can say is, hang in there. We will get there. See the silver linings, stay positive and hopefully we will look back at this soon and something good will have come out of it – some sort of positive change.”
“To all the clients, thank you so much. It is still so weird for me, Paolo Sebastian is a brand I started in my parent’s lounge room at the age of seventeen. To think that now, we have people interstate and overseas who follow us. We’re in a bigger building, we’re a team of 20 team members, I still pinch myself…”