Melbourne wedding dress designer Cathleen Jia has just released her romantic new made-to-measure capsule collection, ‘Moon River’. The familiar title comes from the tune that Audrey Hepburn’s character, Holly Golighty, dreamily croons in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. May we convince you that it’s also a charming song choice for the first dance at your wedding reception?
“Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way
Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me”.
Indeed, Audrey Hepburn was the designer’s muse for this collection (worn here by Nicole Mitrov of Vivien’s). Cathleen says, “when I was doing one of the dresses I was a little bit stuck on the details. And then I watched the movie that afternoon and it came to me what I needed to do. Then the song came on it made sense…as soon as that happened, I thought ‘it’s a sign!'” It’s easy to envision the style icon wearing Cathleen’s elegant silhouettes; 1950s belts, gleaming pearls and demurely rounded necklines contribute to a sense of vintage glamour across the six wedding gowns.
Pleating is an atypical new star of the ‘Moon River’ collection. Cathleen was mentored by Simon from Specialty Pleaters in Williamstown in this nearly lost craft. “I just wanted to challenge myself. I went into his workshop and hand pleated the pieces with him. There are only two surviving pleaters in the whole of Australia,” says the designer. “It’s actually amazing going to be able to do that, just understanding the work that’s involved; they mould each pleat by hand. It was insane – my fingers were so sore!”
This kind of custom handcrafting continues to be at the core of Cathleen Jia’s philosophy. The petals of Her 3D flowers are hand-cut, pearls are individually sewn on, belts are customised and even belt loops are made special by the addition of teeny, gleaming pearls. Detailing on dresses is often layered; lace is accented with glinting beads which are in turn topped with hand-dyed flowers. It took three people, eight days just to finish the hemline of Cathleen’s ‘Lulu’ dress.
The ‘Moon River’ collection, made by artisans in Australia, is available for fittings now.
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