Sydney designers Weddings by Master/Slave were the chosen designers for musician Guy Sebastien and his wife Julie Sebastien’s wedding attire. Outfitted in velvet suits, asymmetrical necklines and a mix of interesting and unique textures and fabrics, I had my interest piqued! So today I am delighted to be joined by Roderick of Weddings By Master/Slave for his take on bridal design and the Australian wedding industry.
Please tell us about yourself? Were you always a creative person – even as a child?
I was always a creative person. I started my career as a musician/performer in my teens. At UNSW, I majored in Theatre Arts. I went on to work in the fashion industry in New York doing hair/make up and styling for fashion magazines and advertisements. Working in fashion media enabled me to travel and work in various countries. This soon led me to stay in Asia for a few years working on magazine covers for celebrities and politicians.
What was the catalyst for setting up Master/Slave with Eleni Kondos?
When I decided to study again, I finished up my time working in Asia and returned to Sydney to study design and pattern making. It was there I met my design and business partner Eleni Kondos. Together we found the company Master/slave. This year is our eighth year in business.
What is your business philosophy?
Our brand philosophy is and has always been to provide our clients with creative services and beautiful products that are high in quality, contemporary and personal. Our clients will find that at Weddings by Master/slave luxury is reflected in the way that we design and create our pieces. Our clients also cherish the essence of the delivery experience. We believe that luxury should be reflected in the finished product but with Weddings By Master/slave, luxury is also synonymous with the bridal journey. Clients find their bridal journey with us a confident and personal one. This is personally rewarding and very encouraging to learn.
What is the starting point for a gown or a collection? What influences do you draw on, when you commence designing a garment?
We have a signature look that is definitively Weddings by Master/slave. New Collections offer a contemporary vision of our classic styles. Every collection offers a different feeling or different textures. Some clients like more embellishments while others might request for none. Every collection addresses different needs of modern brides. The evolution from one collection to another collection is an organic journey. We are always designing so our collection very much reflects the demand of the clients at that moment. To preserve integrity of the Weddings by Master/slave aesthetic, we find ourselves returning to our design library and constantly find new ways to refine the cuts in our catalogue of designs and create new styles that are true to the our design sensibilities.
When a bride comes to you to design her dress, can you ‘see’ what sort of dress/ fabric/lace/embellishments would suit her when she walks in the door, or does the design process evolve over time?
During the consultation with a bride, we will ask a series of questions about the bride’s needs and requests. This helps us gauge her interests and understand her needs. Gown trials help us decipher what suits her and her likes and dislikes. Through this process we will learn more about her personality and form an accurate vision of what is most flattering and reflective of her personality. A bridal gown should never overwhelm the bride’s personhood. It has to encourage comfort and confidence. That, above all else, will engender beauty.
How long does the design process take from start to finished garment?
While we have bridal orders up to end of 2013, we have also created full gowns with very little time. When Delta Goodrem’s stylist contacted us to design for her two videos “In this life”, both the American video and Australian version, we delivered two full couture gowns to Goodrem’s sets in LA in 72 hours. That included the plane trip there.
How do you keep your designs fresh and different?
In between designing bridal collections and servicing brides, we are also working on our fashion and lifestyle product ranges. All the while we are constantly filling in orders for design projects across television programmes, music videos and advertisements. Working across different media and with different artistes/celebrities/concepts help Eleni and I stay fresh constantly fresh. Coming up with new ideas and finding solutions for different projects have enabled us to work with different colours, and textures. These new concepts and textures will in turn organically traverse across into our latest bridal collection to further meet the changing needs of modern brides. These new elements, you might call our inspirations.
You make your gowns in Australia. What does this add to the gown?
Our couture gowns are currently made in Australia. We make it in house and its 30% hand-made and hand finished. Since all brides are not the same we do not treat couture like manufactured goods on a production line. Our bridal clients constantly re-iterate that they want an individual gown, a bridal gown that expresses their unique and intrinsic qualities. We design and make each gown in house so that we can fully realize each gown’s potential, this enables our gown to meet the bride’s vision.
What other services do you offer the Australian bride? Do you suggest or supply accessories for your brides?
We have a made to order bridal and brides maids shoe collection and we make head pieces, cummerbunds and veils for the bride.
Do you find that brides still favour a white dress, or are soft colours becoming more popular?
We get a lot of orders for ivory and white gowns. Since we designed Julie Sebastian’s Gown, we have been inundated with orders for dresses with our signature floral details. Our brides are very excited to learn that their bridal gown can be detailed with bouquets of hand-made fabric flowers in a variety of shapes, textures and colours. When applied artfully, floral arrangements on gowns can illustrate the gown beautifully adding visual interests and individuality. These floral arrangements and colour combinations are never the same for each bride as they are customized to suit the needs and requests of each individual. We find this thrilling to create and our clients find the whole journey most enchanting and memorable.
Do you have a ‘special look’ that sets you apart from other wedding dress designers?
We are very well known for our drape collections and our floral details. When we first started we used to offer the three hours drape and dress service, where a client can walk in and get a dress made in three hours and we drape it on her. Our business grew and the draping method evolved and now we are well known for our contemporary drape collections. Some clients think our drape collection is reminiscent of vintage style dressing. This may be because we employ a draping technique made famous by Parisian couturier: Vionnet. In the twenties, Vionnet had a fashion house draping goddess like dresses for clients and celebrities alike.
What inspires you about Australian women/brides?
Australian women are confident. When working with Australian brides, we find it quite interesting to learn about their specific needs and interests. Different brides from different cultural heritage may request for specific details or textures. This keeps our design house busy with new requests all the time.
What is your number one tip for brides?
When shopping for a gown or a service, do your research, decide what you want and how much you want to spend before you walk in. Being decisive helps you get past all the noise and reach your bridal vision with ease and confidence.
What bridal trends do you see in the future?
I think we will see more options in textures in bridal dresses and detailing. Bridesmaids dresses will also be a part of this evolution.
Thank you for joining us today Roderick! To see more of the work of Roderick and the Weddings by Master/Slave team, visit the website.