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With a passion for creating beautiful one off designs, Caitlyn of Studio C Bridal is in her element amongst sumptuous silks, satins and laces. We all dream of looking like a princess on our wedding day, and her ability to design and advise on the best ways to bring out our best ensures that each gown she creates fits perfectly and incorporates all your design dreams. Add to that her love of creating and sewing, and a world of experience in theatre costuming and you know that you are in great hands. Join me as we explore Caitlyn’s world.

Where is Studio C Bridal situated?

In Sydney’s inner west – Alexandria specifically.

What is your fashion background?

My background is actually in theatre costumes. I studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), graduating with a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts, Costume. I have worked for Opera Australia, Bell Shakespeare Company, and on big musicals including Strictly Ballroom, South Pacific and My Fair Lady. This gives me extra insight into sewing techniques, materials, and how to work hard for a deadline!

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Image by MacDougall Photography

What was the catalyst for you to go into designing and making bridal gowns?

Natural evolution, really. My career developed from exclusively costumes and working in workrooms to then include bridal dresses, and then to set up my own workroom and my own branding. I love being able to bring my theatre skills, and knowledge of fashion history, to every bride who comes through my doors. I studied 2000+ years of fashion history as part of my course, and a major thing that I learnt was that every era improves on the last, creating new trends, and that every era believes it’s fashion is the most beautiful. I love being able to see how beautiful every idea is, that every bride brings to me.

What do you most enjoy about your profession?

I love so many different elements of my job. I love developing ideas with a bride, and I love the look on her face change over the course of a fitting as her dress comes to life. The difference between a design and the real thing is quite drastic, and can require a bit of trust and imagination at times. It’s always so rewarding at every step.

You’ve just had the excitement of creating your first collection. What were the joys of creating your first collection?

It was incredibly exciting. I’ve been working on designs for as long as I can remember, and have books of concepts and developed ideas. I love seeing my gowns on models and in photos, as much as my brides love seeing their dress comes to life. The fabric shopping was a highlight too – choosing the best fabrics can be equally inspiring and exciting. There’s nothing quite as heart stopping as waiting to see if the crowd like your designs.

What was the creative inspiration behind your collection?

I’ve taken inspiration from various sources. History has provided us with some beautiful, unique shapes and constant inspiration. Instagram and Pinterest is another large source of inspiration, where I follow designers of theatre and fashion. Most importantly, I have specifically chosen every element of every dress. There should be something for everyone to fall in love with, or use as further inspiration. Some of my gowns include delicate laces, some full skirts, some intricate patterns, and even a tailored jacket style dress. My inspiration comes from anywhere!!

Where do you find your fabrics? Do these in themselves inspire designs?

Sometimes the design comes first, sometimes it’s the fabrics. I’m often sourcing fabrics, and will always look at what’s around, not just what’s on my shopping lists. Some fabrics are just perfect at lending themselves towards a particular design. Mostly, my fabrics are sourced locally, from retailers and wholesalers around Sydney, but I have a few contacts interstate and overseas. The lace for my heirloom garters is exclusively sourced from England, where I buy the last pieces in the world of the particular style of lace. They are made on 19th Century embroidery machines, and when a machine piece breaks, that pattern can no longer be produced. I then buy the last available from my supplier, which can be such a short run that larger fashion houses couldn’t be interested in.

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Image by MacDougall Photography

What is unique about your gowns?

I believe everything is unique about my gowns. From individual style, to customised fit, and the ability to tweak the design as we go through the process. Every fabric is bought to suit each bride, and every design is made to suit her style and body shape.

Are they made in Australia?

Yes, 100%! Everything, start to finish, is made in my Alexandria studio. Designs, patterns, sewing, alterations, are all done within Studio C Bridal. In fact, you have to walk past my cutting table and sewing machines to get to the fitting area! I love teaching brides about my process, so they can see how much love and attention to detail goes into their gowns. I love every wedding dress nearly as much as each bride does!

Do you consider that you have a design ‘style’ that you are known for?

I’m building my profile with the release of my first collection. This reflects my style based on timeless elegance and classic design principals. Most styles through my doors lately have had a very strong 1930s, 40s and 50s vibe, with fitted bodices, full skirts and gorgeous lace details. I’m very happy to follow the lead of my brides and produce their style, not enforce my own. I also have a top secret ‘bucket list’ of styles I’m dying to make!!

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Images by Studio C Bridal

What is the process from when a bride initially approaches you to make her gown?

My entire process is always very open and friendly. We start with an initial consult, usually lasting an hour, approximately 6-10 months ahead of the wedding day. During this time, the bride (and any bridesmaids or mum accompanying) will tell me details of the wedding day, as well as discuss ideas about the gown. Usually we reference a Pinterest board, or favourite designers. We may go into detail about other dresses she has tried on, and liked or not liked. A very important part of this early stage is learning to speak the same language. For example, I may use terms like Guipure or Chantilly to describe a lace, but it’s more important that you understand how heavy of light it is, and how this effects the design.

After an initial design is settled upon, I put forward a quote. This number includes all fittings, alterations, and fabrics, as well as shopping hours, drafting, cutting, sewing, and alterations. There are no sneaky add ons. Payment plans are available, and a deposit is required before work can commence.

Our first fitting is called a Toile (pronounces ‘twarl’) – a basic mock up of the dress, in a not very precious fabric. This is so we can start to fine tune the shape before the beautiful real fabrics are cut into.

Second, and all subsequent fittings are done in varying amounts of the real fabric. Something like a lace we may not include until the third fitting, or a petticoat may even be included in the toile fitting. We discuss shoes, underwear, and accessories as we go and set mini deadlines to coincide with how the dress progresses.

Most commonly, the bride takes her dress with her on the 5th or 6th meeting.

Short turn around times can be negotiated in exceptional circumstances. My theatre training has taught me that a lot is possible in a short time.

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Image by Content Productions

Your business name mentions the word ‘trousseau’. What is included in this aspect of bridal attire?

Trousseau is a French term (pronounced ‘True-sew)’. This encompasses all the accessories that go with your wedding dress – everything else a bride wears on her day. I make garters, corsets and shapewear, and have an option to bring a milliner (hat maker) along to fittings. This allows us to work in tandem to custom make a veil or fascinator to go with your gown and get the perfect balance and design as well as fit and shape.

Do you make these to align with the style and fit of the wedding dress?

Most definitely. Occasionally, shapewear can be built into the dress, allowing support along with structure. As you may have discovered, a lot of dress colours define themselves as ‘ivory’ at the moment. But, how many different colours are you seeing? Not all ivories are made the same!! In choosing to have both gown and trousseau custom made, we do everything possible to get colours, tones, and textures to be best suited to each other.

Are you able to professionally alter heirloom gowns, or gowns bought elsewhere?

Yes and I love doing so!! I prefer making gowns, but I know that it may not be for everyone. Heirloom gowns are a specialty of mine. I have experience altering original gowns from as early as 1910! I know the care that must be taken, and some very cool tricks to be able to make the gown fit and flatter best, even though there is no spare fabric. Of course, if you are bringing in an heirloom, then the highest respect is given to the gown, as well as to the original wearer.  If you’ve already bought your dress from another shop, you are welcome to bring it to me for professional alterations. My hours are flexible, and my prices are fair. It is best to allow 2 months for alterations to a new gown, and 4 months for an heirloom gown.

Are you also able to design and make the gowns for the bridesmaids?

I am! I love being able to give every girl the best attention to detail, and what better way to complete the bride’s vision of her wedding day than to make for her maids as well! I’m starting a range of flower girl dresses, and I’m being asked to make a lot of Mother of the Bride/Groom outfits at the moment, and am very happy to do so.

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Image by MacDougall Photography

What are the factors you consider when making the bridesmaid’s gowns?

The best part of custom making bridesmaid dresses is that while every body shape and colouring is different, and I will always work to achieve the best outcome. With custom made, we can tweak and alter each gown to suit each girl. Budget and body shape are the two key factors in producing beautiful bridesmaid dresses. This combination is very hard to achieve the best results when buying off-the-rack.

If you could design a gown for anyone, who would it be (and why?)

I would have loved to make something for Grace Kelly, when she was a Hollywood star or in her life as royalty. Her classic style, timeless beauty, and genuine nature have always appealed to me, since I saw her in Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock.

Your most treasured item is….

I treasure my husband, my family and my friends above all other things in life. But I also couldn’t be happy without access to my studio – the inspiration, the peace, the love that I get from sewing have been with me for years.

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Image by Content Productions

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

In business and career, it would have to be “Make your Vocation your Vacation”, and in life “We’re not on this holiday to save money” (thanks Dad!). Two great philosophies to live by!

What do you like to do in your leisure time?

My husband and I love snowboarding and sailing – water sports and fresh air are a pretty amazing combination, great for the soul! If it’s rainy, then antique and market shopping is a pretty great way to find inspiration and spend time.

Thank you Caitlyn for sharing your story. A gown that you love made with passion and love – what more can you ask for? To find out more about Studio C Bridal visit the website.

Headshot by Content Productions

Magical Soiree wedding website and invite

At Paperless Wedding, as we are passionate about not only saving a tree but also helping you reduce your carbon footprint, we wanted to share some top tips on how to make your wedding a little more eco-friendly. From the moment you send your wedding invitations, you can make choices to make your wedding day eco-friendly. It may only seem like one day, but when you think about how many weddings a year in Australia there are, the impact of everyone’s wedding day will soon add up.  However, with a few simple swaps, you can make the world of difference.

1.Go online and save some paper

In our digital world, when most forms of communication are online, many couples still opt for paper invites. Online invites and wedding websites are fun, informative and oh so green. Don’t buy magazines but browse fab websites like Polka Dot Bride for inspiration!

2. Something borrowed…

The recent trend for vintage (essentially ‘borrowing’ form the past) is doing wonders for the environment! Find your perfect vintage dress online in specialist ‘preloved’ shops. For suits, rent or get the groomsmen to wear their own – it can add such individuality to the day.

Image by The White Tree via Everything Old is New Again – My Recycled Polka Dot Wedding Dress

3. A venue that cares

Do they use eco cleaning products and recycle? Do they care about low food miles? Do they give to charity? Venues that care about the environment are some of the most beautiful, usually because they are inspired by their location. Here in Australia we have so many amazing outdoor venues that give us lots of options for greener weddings. Also by having your wedding in one location you reduce carbon emissions by not travelling from place to place.

4. Think seasonal and embrace ‘ugly’

Choose a caterer that cares. Do they use Fairtrade products to ensure that the food you will eat on your wedding day is helping the producers in the developing world? Do they use ‘ugly’ vegetables? You know, the knobbly carrots that some caterers throw away! There are an increasing number of caterers that are offering green alternatives.

Buy local and buy seasonal where at all possible!!

5. Aussie blooms

Some brides are opting for non-floral bouquets, often opting for bouquets made of buttons or recycled paper. For those wanting the real deal, then opt for flowers that are in season. This way, flowers can be sourced from the Australia (currently over 80% of wedding flowers are imported). This reduces the carbon footprint of your wedding.

Image by Shuttersnap Photography via Sarah and Roger’s Stylish Brisbane Wedding

6. Be meaningful
For favours, avoid novelty items that may be chuckled at once and then forgotten. Instead, go for something meaningful – provide native wildflowers so you can ‘spread the love’ of your big day. Perhaps you want to do away with gifts and ask guests to make a donation to your favourite charity instead.

 

Ms Chinoiserie Says: Eco friendly weddings definitely get my ‘green’ tick of approval!

About Paperless Wedding: Our digital wedding invitations are the eco friendly, unique and easy way to invite your guests to your wedding. We enable you to do all the correspondence normally sent in the post via beautifully designed email instead. Your personal wedding website enable couples to RSVP online – and they can also comment in the guest book or even share a photo.

Image by Sarah-Kate from Chasing Brightness Photography via Kat & Reece’s Sparkling Garden Cafe Wedding

As she says a delighted “Yes!” he breathes a sigh of relief and slips a gorgeous engagement ring onto the fourth finger of her left hand. She admires its sparkle as he comes in for a sweet embrace. Nobody stood by to instruct them about the proper finger for the engagement ring. They both just knew (but neither of them cared about the particulars of proper engagement ring fingers in that moment).

Most people who live in a Western culture simply know that the engagement ring almost always goes on the fourth finger of the left hand. But do you know why?

Actually, do you know why we even wear engagement and wedding rings in the first place?

Why Wedding/Engagement Rings?

The ancient Egyptians are credited with inventing the engagement ring (but nobody really knows if that’s true or not!). The circle represents eternal love, with no beginning or end, but, interestingly enough, the hole of the ring is also symbolic as a gateway or door, leading to things unknown and known.

Why Do We Wear The Engagement Ring On Our Left Hand?

Most believe the tradition of wearing the engagement ring on the left hand comes from the Romans, who believed the fourth finger had a vein that ran straight to the heart. In good romantic fashion, they called it the ‘vena amoris’, or vein of love. Of course, it makes sense to wear a symbol of love at that particular vein.

Unfortunately, we now know the vena amoris isn’t real, but we can still believe in the romanticism of it all.

The fourth finger of the left hand is also a practical choice for a treasured piece of jewellery. Most people are right-handed, so they use their left hand less often, and the ring finger is one of the least-used fingers on the hand.

Image via Style Rocks

Why Are Diamond Engagement Rings So Popular?

‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,’ and all that, but why? Back in the 15th century, Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a ring set with hogback (baguette) diamonds. Rumour is, he actually loved her too, which was rare for a royal marriage. Other men of means and class followed his example.

Fast-forward to the 1800’s when diamonds were found in South Africa. Suddenly, diamonds were more available, and more people could purchase them for engagement rings. During the Great Depression, diamonds lost favour with the public, but interest was reignited with an impressive marketing campaign whose influence lives on today.

Image by Popcorn Photography via Alicia and Mark’s Romantic Vineyard Wedding

Traditions In Other Countries

The left hand engagement ring isn’t standard ’round the world. In Russia, Greece, Columbia, Poland, Turkey, India, Spain, Peru, Norway, and Denmark, it is worn on the right hand.

In Germany, women wear the engagement ring on the left hand, but move it to the right hand once married. Conversely, in Brazil, both the groom and bride wear a plain wedding band on the right hand while engaged, and then move it to the left hand once married. In Brazil, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon, they also wear the engagement ring on the right hand until the wedding day.

Engagement rings aren’t always just for women either. Both men and women in Nordic countries traditionally wear plain gold bands as engagement rings, with the wedding ring designs being more ornate. In Argentina, both the bride and groom wear a plain silver band on the left hand when they’re engaged. Once married, they either replace the ring with a wedding ring, or move the silver band to the right hand.

Tradition Isn’t Everything
More and more people are choosing to customise their own traditions and rings, with brides skipping the wedding band (or wearing two wedding bands!), with brides choosing coloured gemstones in place of, or with, diamonds, and more.

Image via Style Rocks

While tradition is relevant and important, it doesn’t overrule your own preferences. You have the freedom to design your engagement ring (and your own customs!) your way.

Ms Chinoiserie Says: So interesting to learn about the traditions of “I’m engaged” from other countries around the world!

About Pascale: Pascale Helyar-Moray, Founder and Director of StyleRocks has fourteen years of financial services experience as a marketing and communications professional working with blue chip companies in Australia and the UK. Maternity leave forced her to re-examine her career options and in looking for a business she could run from home, she created StyleRocks in order to harness her lifelong passion for jewellery.