By Debbi O'Shea
The holiday season is the perfect time to add a bit of shimmer and shine to your wardrobe. If you’re attending a gala or festive black-tie wedding, the pop of a sequin top, skirt, dress or gown has a built-in wow factor, and who doesn’t want to wow a little, from time to time?
At Richards in Greenwich this season, I’ve had the pleasure of working with two mothers of the bride, who chose to shimmer, but not outshine their daughters, at the formal winter weddings.
“MOB” is one of the most challenging ready-to-wear categories. There are several obstacles that can keep the near-perfect in-stock dress from being the one. It can be the right bodice but the wrong neckline, the perfect silhouette but lacking a sleeve, a beautiful color but not in keeping with the bride’s theme. What’s a mother to do?
The answer lies in taking a fashion leap of faith and working with an experienced expert, who can guide you through the trunk-show process. Another challenge? It will all be happening six months before you need to wear it on the opposite side of the calendar. In other words, you will be looking at velvet in June.
In addition, the samples at trunk shows are generally custom-fitted to the model who walked them on the runway. Frustrating as that may be to retailers and customers, the cost of replicating a season’s worth of samples in more wearer-friendly sizes is simply too prohibitive for designers. Still, there are ways to make it work. Here are some of the advantages to shopping at a trunk show:
• There will be multiple color choices, (sometimes dozens) and fabric options.
• Often a sleeve can be added for a small charge or fabric purchased to create a shawl or stole.
• Measurements are taken, so the designer will be able to gauge what size will most closely match the patterns once they’re graded for production.
• For an additional fee, a completely custom gown or dress may be an option. This is truly your opportunity to design the dress of your dreams. It will include custom measurements and an initial fitting in a muslin that will barely resemble the finished product.
Both of the MOBs I worked with chose to go the trunk show route. One mom ordered an exquisite floral jewel-toned, metallic brocade gown with a full ball skirt and matching stole. Though the sample she tried was a size 4, her gown was ordered in a size 10 and needed only minor alterations and a hem when it arrived four months later.
The other mom ordered a custom, pale gold sequin Pamella Roland gown with a full train. Initially, she had purchased something less important, but the bride wanted her mother to dazzle, so we started from scratch. During the process, we struggled to figure out the most flattering neckline and shoulder cut. One morning, I looked up in the mirror while brushing my teeth. I realized the yoga top I was wearing had the perfect cut we were looking for. Toothbrush in hand, I snapped a picture and texted it to her. She nearly died laughing when she received it but immediately had the vision to know this was it.
With the help of Richards’ seamstress extraordinaire, Sylvia, we crafted the muslin to replicate the top. Later, we decided to add a vanilla mink shrug by Oscar de la Renta as a finishing touch for the church and cocktail hour. We then decided to scoop the back a bit lower, so there would be a little surprise of skin once the shrug was removed at the reception. All of this was easily adjusted on the muslin.
In both cases, the finished gowns were exquisite, exceeding all expectations. I am so looking forward to seeing the pictures from both weddings. Here’s to beautiful brides, shimmering moms and glittering guests. May all your events this holiday season be brilliant and joyous.