In a studio surrounded with beautiful laces, silks and tulle it is little wonder that Peter of Peter de Petra Bridal Couture feels inspired to create the perfect bridal gown. With an eye for the classical, the timeless and the elegant, his gowns are handcrafted using couture techniques that ensure a beautiful fit. With a deep knowledge of couture, design, fabrics and most important of all, what will suit you the best, Peter will work with you to create the wedding gown of your dreams. His personal service and dedication to excellence is your guarantee that you will feel like a princess on your wedding day.
How long have you been in the bridal gown business?
Twenty five years – feels like I just started yesterday!
How would you describe the general emphasis/feel of your designs?
My love of designing gowns that are classical and elegant with a touch of glamour!
What are the thoughts that go into designing a collection in contrast to designing a one off couture gown?
With a collection I try to showcase different looks that might inspire brides, while utilizing the fabrics and laces to their best advantage.
When I design a one off gown, I take into account the Bride’s vision, her body shape, the style of the wedding and her fabric preferences. The bride will usually (but not always) have an idea or a look she is trying to capture, and might bring visual aids to convey her thoughts. This allows me to form the basis for the design while using my knowledge of the behavior of different fabrics, and construction techniques to work out the finer details.
How do you decide what will be an up to date look for the coming season’s collection?
Although I do keep up to date with what is happening on the international scene, I prefer to keep my look classical, so a bride looking back at her photos in 20 years time won’t say “what was I thinking”! Fabrics and particularly at the moment, laces coming out of Europe are influencing the coming seasons collections and ensure the designs are kept fresh.
What influences do you use as trigger points for designing your collections?
Although I do follow overseas fashion and look at trends coming out of Europe, I find I am mostly influenced by old Hollywood glamour and fashion from the golden age of Couture. And of course there’s Pinterest! I love collecting images of anything from interesting textiles to architecture to mainstream fashion. But physically draping and pinning fabric and laces and letting my imagination take the lead is the way many designs evolve.
Do you design each collection with a range of figure types in mind?
Rather than designing with a range of figures in mind I like to design a range of silhouettes; this allows the Bride to see how different silhouettes work with her figure. As each gown is individually made, once the silhouette is decided on, we can work out the details like the laces and fabrics; I like to incorporate the Bride’s own sense of style into the gown.
You provide a personal service for each bride. What does this mean for the bride?
I deal with each bride personally with every aspect of creating the gown, from initial consultation to final fitting.
A perfectionist by nature, I realized early on in my career that the more attention I paid to the quality of the construction and fit the more exquisite the gown.
I believe it’s not only about selling gowns, but providing exceptional service and an amazing experience. I also love the process of creating something individual and going on the design journey with the bride.
You have the Couture Bridal Gown Collection and One Off Bridal Design. Would you please explain the difference between the two?
The couture collection allows Brides to get a feel for the quality and workmanship of the gowns, and to see how different silhouettes and fabrics work with their figure. The bride can then choose to order the gown from the collection as is, or to make any modifications. A one off design is a collaborative process between the Bride and myself. It usually starts with the Bride providing some visual prompts of the things she likes, or we start with one of the gowns in the collection as a basis. I then sketch up a concept for a design and source the fabrics and laces from my network of suppliers. Regardless of how the gown begins, each gown is entirely custom made and tailored to the individual bride and of the same quality workmanship.
How long does it take you to make a gown from the Couture Collection, and what is the time frame for a one off design?
The time frame for both is at least 6 months, however with one off designs we need to allow additional time to order any laces that come from overseas.
Is a bride able to ask for modifications to the design of a gown from the Couture Bridal Gown Collection?
Yes all designs in the couture collection can be modified to suit each Bride.
Are you able to advise the bride on the best design for her body shape, taking into account her dreams for the gown?
If you google choosing a wedding gown based on body shape, the standard advise comes up for the various body shapes; however it is rarely that simple. I take into account the bride’s own sense of style, as well as her proportions and then use the couture collection to assess the best silhouette for her body shape. Often I will suggest trying on something that the bride might not have considered, but will work with her shape. This then gives me a basis on which to base her vision of her dream gown.
How do you decide on the fabrics and laces to use?
Couture offers the bride a myriad of choices and fabrics and laces are one of them. Choosing fabrics is not only a matter of what you like, but also what will suit the design and behave in a way to give the feel you are after. Fabric selection is a crucial step, and experience has taught me what works the best for different designs.
Brides often find the choices overwhelming, however once I understand the vision of her gown, I can narrow it down to certain types of fabrics and laces that will make the gown uniquely hers.
What is it about bridal gown design that keeps you excited about working with brides?
Working with brides has made an impact on me, how can it not, working with people at such a joyous time in their lives. I love the collaborative process of working with each bride and tailoring the gown to her, and the beautiful gowns that I get to create every day.
5 tips for choosing the perfect gown are:
- Don’t take too many people to appointments. Pick one or two key people to take along, and don’t be afraid to come alone.
- Keep an open mind – dresses look different on the hanger; take the advice of the designer and try something on you wouldn’t normally consider.
- Don’t be swayed by social media. This is a big one; social media has its place when gathering ideas, but girls feel they need to emulate styles that are doing the rounds on social media. Stay true to your style.
- Pick 2-3 designers to visit. Pick the one you feel understands your vision and will deliver a quality gown.
- Understand what is included in the quote. When comparing quotes it is important to understand what exactly you will be getting, both fabric wise and quality wise. There are many ways to deliver the one design, with different outcomes.
What trends do you see coming forward for 2016 bridal gowns?
I think lace is here to stay for 2016, featuring in everything from a long illusion sleeve to a sheer back. Laces embellished with heavy beaded detail will continue to be popular with brides who want to add the wow factor. I think we will see more of the classical silhouettes but with a twist like illusion panels, plunging necklines or a sexy back. I am experimenting with using lace in new ways to create visual interest on classical silhouettes.
What do you love about living and working in Melbourne?
What’s not to love about Melbourne! We are the food capital of Australia, and I love the amazing range of cuisines on offer. My brides come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, and invariable the talk always turns to food especially with the mother of the bride. I am fortunate enough that they bring me samples of their cuisine to try at the next fitting! Needless to say I have got to experience many wonderful foods this way. There is always something to explore on a Sunday in Melbourne. From our great parks to our historic architecture and everything in between, there is never an excuse not to find something fun and relaxing to do.
Melbourne is an easy city to get around and I find brides travel from all over. I think we have a good network of suppliers and wholesalers in Melbourne which makes beautiful fabrics and laces accessible, which means we can offer Brides lots of choices!
Thank you Peter for sharing your story. A divine gown to meet your husband to be at the end of the aisle – how lovely is that! To find out more about Peter de Petra Bridal Couture visit the website.
Images by Astir Images.