Last week a bride brought me a gown she’d bought at the local Salvation Army store. She’d paid $25 for it, as it had no zipper. Imagine my surprise when I looked inside and found a tag from Carmela Sutera! The bride has absolutely no clue what a couture gown is, or what its worth! She most certainly got a bargain!!!
I’ve never even seen a couture gown, much less worked on one, so this is a special treat, and I’ve been devouring everything that I can as far as learning what/how the atlairs completed this gown.
The gown needs to be let out about 2″ in the bodice, and of course, have a new zip put in. What a learning experience this has been, and I thought I’d pass some of what I’ve learned,so far, from the inside of the gown, on to all of you.
The gown has a princess style bodice with an empire waist, a square neckline, and cap sleeves. The skirt also has princess seams and is A-line. The bodice has trim around the neckline and waistline seam. I studied the trim for quite some time, as I may have to try to reproduce about 4″ of it in the back of the gown. It has tiny rosettes, made from baby rickrack that has been rolled tightly and sewn together. There is a round-cut Swarovski crystal sewn at the center of each rosette. All of the trim is sewn on to a slightly padded fabric that has been covered with organza or organdy…I never can remember which is softer…its the soft one….This band is about 3/4″ wide. It has 2 rows of very thin satin cording sewn along both edges, and there is a row of tiny pearls sewn between each of these. This is hand sewn to the neckline…mitered at the corners…and under the bust, along the waistline. The cap sleeves are covered in Swarovski crystals, tiny bugal beads, pearls, and a trim that I can only describe as some kind of satin cord that has been twisted so that it curls on itself, resembling worms. They also have a band of the trim along the edge of the sleeves.
The fashion fabric is an Italian silk satin, with the same used for the lining. The bodice is underlined with 2 layers of a very fine muslin. This surprised me, as everything I’ve read about underlining in couture only mentioned using 1 layer of underlining. The hand of the fabric, with this double layer of underlining is amazing! It is extremely soft, but gives a totally different feel to the fabric. Almost like it has a soft felt under it. And it behaves completely differently than if it were only the satin, or had 1 layer of underlining.
It is lined with the same satin. The lining is also underlined, but with something that looks like it is a very thin taffeta…its slightly shiny, and while it is very soft, still has a firmer hand than what I expected. Maybe someone with more experience in very fine fabrics can better tell us what it may be.???
There is also an underskirt (petticoat) attached to the inside of the gown, on top of the lining so it will be next to the body. This is made from a very lightweight fabric, similar to Posh, but slightly stiffer. The tulle is attached to the underskirt in 2 layers that start about the knee area.
Of course, I had to look up the designer on the net! I loved her gowns, and the fact that they are made in the USA, although she imports her fabrics from Italy, and her trim from France. I thought they might get a kick out of the story of this gown, so I contacted them through their website. I also had a couple of questions per trying to copy the band of trim. Imagine my surprise when I got a reply the next day! Of course, I didnt’ get an email from the designer, but from the VPO of the company.
He told me that he knew exactly which gown it was; that it was probably from her 1994 collection; AND that they had recently moved and he had seen the trim for the gown. He also told me that he would look for it and if they hadn’t thrown it out, he would send it to me! I couldn’t believe that they would even reply to my email, much less make such a generous offer of their time and resources!!!! I emailed him back per his request, and am hoping to hear from him early this week…The wedding is April 4, so I have to do something quick about the trim if I can’t get it from them.
Anyway, this is such a unique experience that I had to share it with people who would appreciate it. I’ve told my friends; their replies are, “that’s nice.” No…its WAY more than nice, they just don’t get it!
Here’s a link to the designer’s website if anyone wants to check it out. They do not have gowns in Salons. The salons take the appropriate measurements and each gown is custom made for that specific client. The CVO told me that the gown probably cost about $2800-3000 for the original bride. To make the same gown would now cost between $4000 and 5000. Wow, soooo not anything I’m used to working on.LOL What a treat!