Thursday, October 19, 2017

PIC OF THE WEEK

Talk about awesome shooters, this incredible shot by Samantha Bracato deserves an award.  Taken at The Gatsby's Bride shoot, I'm stunned by her capture of forms in relation to light, space and a respect for overall composition.  Thanks you Sam for your talent of bringing the best to this project and for such beautiful inspiration . . . . .
The GEMMA Dress and Lace Mantilla Veil by Amy Jo Tatum

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT BUYING A SAMPLE WEDDING DRESS BUT DIDN'T KNOW WHO TO ASK

That who just happens to be me!! Okay, so let's suppose your wedding is next month and you need that gown now? Or you love the sample but it's just been discontinued? Or else you love the sample but can't afford to special order it? You do realize next season a whole new stock will be arriving? This means your salon needs to get the old out of the way. And all those gowns with full skirts just hanging there take up space, or haven't you noticed? While sizes are limited and samples mostly run sizes 6-8-10, the good news is, sample markdowns usually go half off, sometimes less. Some salons have sample sales they advertise a couple times a year while others offer marked down stock continually. Absolutely love that gown you just tried on? Offer to buy it. Yes, that same gown. Ordinarily samples are not for sale but this may be the time they're moving in all those spring confections, especially if it is in less than perfect shape, which, more than a few samples tend to be.
Now, a word about wear and tear: Before you start bargaining, check out how much or how little that soon-to-be-yours gown has been tried on by others. This means really looking at it inside as well as out. Is it ripped, stained, the hem soiled and need cleaning? The overall condition of most samples has a lot to do with how the salon takes care of their stock. Still, figure on dry cleaning whether the gown looks like it needs it or not. After a good clean and press it will seem revived both inside and out and take on a new life of its own. So the question is, who pays the cleaning bill? In some cases, the more service oriented the establishment, the more accommodating they'll be. As for alterations, you might save them for when and if you have your gown customized. If you are customizing, any nipping in of the waist or shortening of the hemline might have to wait anyway.
Photo 1: The Arielle Dress///Image via Photo Chic
Photo 2: The Tiffany Dress///Image via Strotz Photography
Photo 3: The Olga Dress/// Image via Photo Chic
Dresses by Amy-Jo Tatum

Monday, October 16, 2017

PRAYERS

It's like a jolt to the solar plexis when I glimpse these beautiful images of the wine country from times past. Going through files of photos on the computer, I'm reminded of the gorgeous countryside and towns now engulfed in flames, looking much like a ravaged war zone. These are a small representation of the many shoots and weddings we've done in the wine country. Our hearts go out to all the folks in Napa and Sonoma Counties, some losing everything they had. Praying for my family and all the families as well as businesses going through this very sad time . . . .

Thursday, October 12, 2017

CHIC OF THE WEEK

I was glad when my VALERIE dress was featured in a shoot out at Triple S Ranch in Napa by photographer, Pearl Hsieh Photography.  The floral crown by Green Snapdragon |pairs up so beautifully with this tea dyed tulle and Chantilly lace hourglass silhouette with a V-neckline. There are five layers of tulle atop a rosey beige satin underskirt. Shantung buttons line the center back. of this gem .Ideal for the bride who is zeroing in on a mash up of boho and vintage 1950s
  
Photographer: Pearl Hsieh Photography, LLC |  | Makeup Artist: Bun Bun Bridal Lab | Floral Designer: Green Snapdragon | Cake & Desserts: La Vie Douce Design | Event Venue: Triple S Ranch |

Monday, October 9, 2017

THE INSIDE STORY ON VINTAGE DRESSES

Some curator on a reality show I was watching addressed the issue of what it was like to be the first time owner of one of those lovely dresses from the 40s-50s era.   "I didn't know it was going to be so scratchy on the inside . . ." she confessed.  My rebuttal to this was, well, maybe that's why you see women in 50s movies stripping down to either full slips or some form of rubberized basque underneath it all.   No way could they stand some of these gems next to their skin.  Most vintage dresses like the one above, (I own it), leaves much to be desired inside.   Let me say the outside work is impeccable, the waist bows and piping are perfectly applied as is the skirt.  Inside however, someone forgot to line it using pellon to stabilize the bodice, leaving raw seams and a waist gathered with scratchy crinoline.  Of course the first thing I did to restore this gem was line the bodice in silk and tape the waistline.     

The dress below is another gift from one of my husband's parishioners.  Bought in a San Francisco department store in 1952 for $250.00, this tea-length ice blue and eggshell tulle beauty was worn with a mini veil.  Zippers from this era were metal and very visible.  Sometimes installed into the left side of a garment rather than down the center back, it caused the left side to bulge in some cases. It has been hard to keep this dress restored as tulle over time falls to tatters with one touch.  For that reason I use it as a display piece to remember Estelle who has passed on.  I tried this dress on myself and believe me it is a gorgeous piece.  Not me in the picture . . .
If you really love vintage and want to wear something authentic either on your wedding day or to some important event, be aware manufacturing techniques back then were different.  The invisible zipper  that simulates a flawless seam just didn't exist back then. In some dresses circa 30s-50s you'll find seams pinked (simply cut with pinking shears)  or zig-zaged rather than lock-stitched. If you're a purest or plan on wearing your vintage find more than once, find an expert in restoration.  Ideally, one who loves vintage will relish working on authentic pieces and share your vision.

Photos 1 and 2: JohnTPhotography

Friday, October 6, 2017

TRAINS AND BUSTLES

Back in the Middle Ages when fabric was in short supply, the length of one’s train conveyed a person’s wealth and standing. For Victorians, bustling the train was considered an art form with all kind of intricate floral and lace treatments. Today a gown with a train still suggests formality; typically the longer the train, the more formal the wedding. So what is a train exactly? A train is that extension in the back of the skirt that follows when you move. There are two types of trains: built-in and detachable. Built-ins are integrated in the actual skirt pattern when the dress is made. These are the kind that are pulled up and bustled after the ceremony. A detachable train is a separate component, not integrated in the skirt pattern. Detachables are usually removed after the ceremony, although I’ve seen them bustled every so often when brides want to keep that certain “Gigi” look going for the party.
Above: Header Photo: A bustled taffeta train//Directly Above: A chapel length train in layers of tulle  on The ANGELIQUE Dress////Grace Kathryn Photography

LENGTHS

Sweep-Typically extends a foot or so past the hemline.

Chapel-Considered formal. Extends about 2 feet beyond the hemline. Tres chic right now.

Cathedral-Formal. Generally a 3 foot extension from the hemline. Needs bustling treatment post ceremony.

Royal-Very long. Diana Spencer’s was twenty-five feet! Ultra-formal look for big churches and cathedral ceremonies.
Above: A long, detachable train on a fitted sheath///Strotz Photography


STYLES

Watteau-Named after the eighteenth century painter who popularized his models wearing them; attached at the shoulder and falls to the hemline or beyond.

Panel Train-A long strip or A-line shape of fabric. Typically attached to the waist; though sometimes fastened to the back or shoulders.

Bouffant Panel-A sort of semi-skirt gathered onto a band at the back waist sometimes extending the hip area. Popular accent with sheath and A-line silhouettes. Check out Audrey Hepburn’s party dress in Sabrina, its a good example.

Overskirt- gathered or fitted onto a belt that can be unhooked for the reception. May be made of solid fabric like duchesse satin or something transparent like organza.

Fishtail-Either a built-in extension or godet (triangle of fabric inserted in the seam).

 Above:  A tulle overskirt  on The SABRINA Dress///Grace Kathryn Photography//Directly Above: A Fishtail godet train on The BIANCA Dress///SE Photography

If your heart’s set on an ultra- formal gown and you’re petite, concentrate on exquisite fabric or embroidery rather than extension. A sweep train and/or chapel veil is about as far as you can go and stay in proportion. Heavier? Go any length but keep in mind thick, textured, adorned fabrics aren’t your best option. Lucky you if you’re tall and slender. Go any length you like in any fabric without over embellishing.

Evening gown silhouettes in lightweight fabrics come with both built-in and detachable trains; sheath silhouettes, the latter unless they have fishtail treatments. If you’re looking for an A-line or ball gown in medium to heavyweight fabrics like Duchesse and Peau de Soie, your train will probably be a built-in chapel or cathedral length. These are the more formal gowns and when you visit a salon, you won’t find them displayed out in the open as much. If you do see one, or a sales consultant brings one out, observe how the gown keeps its shape on the hanger or dress form. If it’s hanging up, it will probably be on a molded form-hanger, bustled and/or displayed at least a foot apart from other gowns similar in silhouette. A dress form is the next best thing to you wearing it, and will show it off to its best advantage.

BUSTLING

Bustling is the gathering and tacking up of the train so that the bride can move around freely post ceremony. Once a gown is bustled it goes through a kind of metamorphosis as does the bride in it. There are two kinds of bustling techniques: overbustles and underbustles (French). Usually, bustling is secured with hooks and/or ribbons (narrow strips of grosgrain). Over bustling is the easiest and consists of picking up and tacking the skirt to the waist for chapel and cathedral lengths; or behind the knee for sweeps. Underbustling goes the other way—down and under, fastening to points on the under slip. Longer trains can take a combination of both over and under bustling all at once and the results can be stunning. Additional or custom bustling is done after the bodice fitting is completed. How many (more) bustle points you chose is up to you and the estimation of your alterations person.

Keep in mind not every dress bustles well. Examples include ball gowns with skirts in lightweight layers like tulle or organza. The amount of layered skirts present problems. The bustling is done layer by layer which is time consuming and expensive, and you’d have to absolutely love the result to go through all that hassle. Also some gowns with sweep trains, godets or fishtails don’t bustle well.
Overall, most dresses do bustle beautifully and are a joy to wear. A bustled train remains one of the most elegant and romantic elements of the wedding gown . . . .


All dresses by Amy Jo Tatum

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

BRIDESMAIDS GO PLAID

Wondering how to ditch the predictable and go with something different? Though solid color or monochromatics are stunning on bridesmaids, check out what's happening on the bridal front in PLAIDS.  Yes, Fall brings us the muted colors found in tartans and plaids.  One of the best things about incorporating prints into your bridesmaid scheme is how you can pick up different colors and tie everything together with accessories, including bouquets. A few brave and ingenious brides are even mixing it up having the bridesmaid party sport different plaids entirely.  In addition, dresses in plaids are likely candidates for actual rewear after the wedding and not likely to be hidden in the back of a closet or eventually cut up to make throw pillows.
FOREVER PLAID
Believe it or not plaids and tartans have been used in winter and Scottish themed weddings for years.  Now  on trend, they can be worn any season of the year.  For my own Scottish themed wedding I was able to blend colors I didn't particularly like on their own for a wedding but had a lot of pizazz when combined in a tartan. The beauty of plaids is they can be the perfect backdrop for mixing colors and making the right accessories pop.

Photo 1: via A Coastal Bride
Photos 2-3 via Polka Dot Bride
Photo 4: via Wedding Window

Monday, October 2, 2017

FASHION THROUGH THE AGES

A top notch wedding venue, Shell Dance Gardens in Pacifica, California was the perfect backdrop for an editorial I've had in mind featuring not one era but several spanning the 20th Century..  Face it, the last hundred years have brought us some spectacular innovations in style and what better place to celebrate the romanticism of it all than in a giant greenhouse with breezeways of gardens bathed in opaque light?   Helping me with my vision for this shoot was one of the best fine art photographers around, Sean Sato.  He sees shapes and forms then works them into beautiful compositions.  

Photography by Sean Sato
Dresses and Head Chic by Amy Jo Tatum
Make up and Hair by Zita Zalai Beauty
Models: Funn Fisher and Devon Ariel Delzell
Above: This pre-1920s gown was inspired by Downton Abbey and Irene Castle, a ballroom dancer who with her husband Vernon hit stardom circa 1914 dancing in dresses like this (sans the train) to the Castle Walk and Foxtrot.  This two-piece dress is actually a slip dress with a cami/tent thrown over it in tulle, tiered and bordered in a mix of Chantilly laces.  Yes, after the wedding you can pair up the top with a pair of jeans or velvet pants for those nights out n the town.  Or even wear it as a shorter dress . . . .
Below: Sean is so creative in all ways.  We didn't have bouquets for the gowns so what did he do?  Says Sean, "I even had a chance to make bridal bouquets, with inspiration drawn from my mother's sogetsu ikebana". These bouquets added a welcome rustic element to our project . . . . .
INSPIRATION FROM THE  1930s 
Time traveling through the 1930s for me means tuning into black and white movies staring Joan Crawford and/or Carol Lombard.  These women popularized the slip dress in high sheen fabrics.  Once upon a time this was a new and daring concept for evening wear, the body-clinging, baring the shoulders and decolletage look was sometimes covered over with a capelet or sheer robe.  
Above: The CAMILLE Ensemble is a silk chiffon slip dress paired up with a crocheted cotton lace capelet bordered in lightweight Chantilly lace. The added rose floral to the hair is a very 1930s accent. Below: The SHELIA 4-ply silk crepe slip dress has such a beautiful hand to it.   It is matched up with Peau d'ange sheer lace capelet bordered in Chantilly lace
Above:The PICCALINA lace kimono in tulle and Chantilly lace is something I’ve been wanting to design and create for quite awhile. Again I was inspired by old movies of women in delicate robes and/or dressing gowns, who of course sported long trains. While this particular design started out in the style of a dressing gown, the addition of flowing sleeves falling into points gives it that, if a kimono was made out of lace and tulle, this is what it would look like quality.  The under dress is a 4-ply crepe sheath lined in silk habotai.  




Above: A cowl-necked blouson in Peau d'ange lace over a 4-ply crepe slip dress.  Lace godets and train   bordered in Chantilly lace makes for the drama of a grand entrance.  Below: A salute to the 1940s  artist Frida Kalo. The novelty lace used for the bolero does hint a bit at the likes of  Latin American folk wear.  The Alencon lace bustier is elaborately beaded pairing up nicely with the tulle skirt. 
 Above: My Salute to Audrey Hepburn.  Dresses in the 50s were full, flirty and  celebrated the female form.  The bodice style is clearly 1950s-60s matched up with a full tulle skirt. Below: The LISA Dress is  crocheted lace redolent of the 60s 
 Special thanks go out to Zita Zalai, our make up artist and hairstylist extrodinaire who put these already gorgeous models together.  This shoot was challenging in the sense we wanted to feature a few decades of hair chic with corresponding make up.  Zita accomplished going from Downton Abbey to Chelsea in the swinging 60s so beautifully, all in 8-hours!  Kudos Zita . . . 

Last two photos were taken by Zita