The Case for Couture
Queensland Wedding and Bride Magazine interviews Jordanna Regan Couture
Just like every bride on her wedding day, every bridal gown is different. When looking for the utmost in design, fit and fabric, look no further than bridal couture. Here, Alexandra Brocklehurst speaks to Jordanna Regan, the owner of the eponymous label, on why there is such a strong case for couture within the bridal industry.
As you relish in the joys of your engagement, and start to make plans for your wedding day, your bridal gown (depending on your budget) will be one of the bigger ticket items you’ll need to tick off.
Arguably, brides will fall under one of two categories when it comes to their bridal gown. For some, an off-the- rack gown that fulfils the majority of criteria – be it fit, style or budget – will be the best option.
For others, the promise of an impeccable fit, the highest-quality fabric, and a one-of-a-kind design with have them turning to a couturier for their bridal gown.
If you find yourself seeking the expertise and workmanship of a couture dressmaker, the months before your wedding will involve an exciting calendar filled with consultations and fittings to get you to your dream gown. Jordanna Regan, who launched her label Jordanna Regan Couture at Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival in 2011, focuses on providing high quality and innovative designs to the brides-to-be who enlist her services.
“A wedding gown is the most important garment a woman will ever wear in her lifetime, and the gown should represent her individuality and create an alluring elegance fashioned on style and femininity,” says Regan.
“Having a couturier design and make your wedding gown is a lengthy process, but the superiority, exclusivity and flawlessness cannot be compared to an off-the-rack wedding gown.”
When looking for a bridal gown, terms including ‘couture’, ‘off-the-rack’ and ‘bespoke’ are often thrown around, which makes it hard to know exactly what each term means and what you’re looking for. While some might consider couture to simly mean a high-end or high-fashion gown, couture also denotes that the gown is “custom-made to the client’s measurements”.
“The garment is custom-created from start to finish with extremem attention to detail and is not made in a factory” says Regan.
“It is a very time-consuming process; the couturier needs to work closely with the bride to design a gown that is exclusively hers and is unique to the bride. A couturier will source only the utmost premium silk fabrics and fine European laces to complement the bride’s design.”
A couture, or one-of-a-kind, hand-sewn gown thus differs from a made-to-measure or made- to-order dress. These terms refer respectively to gowns that have been altered from an existing pattern to fit a customer individually or have been created from a sample to the closest size of the bride-to-be, then tailored if required.
For some brides, a made-to-measure, made- to-order or ready-to-wear dress is a more cost- effective option to get their dream dress, however, you may be after something that is unequivocally unique to you – and that’s where couture is the perfect choice!
THE MAKING OF A GOWN
The design and creation of a couture gown is a fairly lengthy process in comparison to non-couture.
“To attain the attention to detail deserving of such finery, a minimum of five months is needed to ensure that the wedding gown is finished to the highest standard,” says Regan.
For this reason, it’s important to approach your designer as soon as possible, when you begin planning your wedding. This will allow you as much time as required to consult and attend fittings, and enable you to (hopefully) experience the process stress-free.
“I understand organising a wedding can be stressful and I try to make the process as simple and stress-free as possible. I encourage ongoing consultations with the bride to ensure her complete satisfaction with the progress and the final product,” says Regan.
As a couture designer, Regan recognises that “a wedding gown should represent the bride’s personality, as well as complementing her figure”. Usually a bride will approach her with some idea of what they want to wear on their wedding day, from looking through magazines and finding inspiration on social media.
With this in mind, it’s important to arrive prepared for your first consultation, bringing along any magazine clippings or screenshots of what you might have in mind that suits your figure.
“At the initial consultation, I talk over the images with the bride in great detail and discuss which silhouettes will be suitable for her figure. Once I establish what the bride likes, a sketch of the design is created,” says Regan.
“A couture gown requires a minimum of four fittings to achieve the perfect fit. The first fitting is a calico trial of the gown, known as a toile. The toile is moulded to the bride’s body and then later used as the pattern. The toile stage is a great opportunity to perfect the design (e.g. neckline, silhouette, sleeves, etc.) before the bride’s fabric is cut.”
When it comes to the design of a gown, Regan says that brides are only limited by their imagination and are able to make changes anytime throughout the design and construction process. Even so, while this offers the opportunity to change the direction if what you had in mind isn’t coming to life with the gown, Regan does emphasise that “brides generally know at the toile stage if there are any design changes that need to be made”.
There is much more flexibility when the gown is in the toile stage to make changes to ensure it represents your dream dress; once the fabric has been cut from the pattern, you’ll want to avoid major changes so your couturier can focus on creating a gown that truly fits like a glove.
Jordanna Regan Couture produces both couture wedding gowns and couture fashion collections. “When designing a new collection, there are a lot of different elements that contribute to the inspiration behind the design. Generally, for me it is seeing a piece of lace that I love and my mind runs wild from there,” says Regan.
For each couture wedding gown, Regan finds inspiration in the bride she is designing for. The bride, her personality, her taste, and what she envisions for herself on her big day are all factors that Regan can draw upon when treating the bride as a muse for the design process.
“At the initial consultation, we discuss all the different elements of design to determine what the bride loves about a wedding gown. Once I discover what the bride likes, I create a front and back sketch of the wedding gown,” says Regan.
If you’re looking for a gown that reflects the season’s current trends, it may be better to seek out an off-the-rack gown rather than something couture. While Regan explains that her designs do vary slightly depending on the current fashion trends, she tries to “keep the designs unique while still having [her] signature mark” so they are both timeless, and one-of-a-kind to the bride.
“When designing my gowns I incorporate a lot of lace work and intricate detailing. All of my gowns are structured to accentuate the female silhouette,” says Regan.
Once the design of the gown has been finalised, there are still plenty of decisions to be made between the bride and the couturier. Regan will discuss with her brides the fabrics that would be most suitable for their gown.
“I show the bride different fabric samples and only then [do] I source the most premium silk fabric and beautiful European lace to complement the design,” says Regan.
This is a chance for the bride to begin to see her dream dress come to life, whether it’s a slinky silk gown or a flowing lace creation.
In addition to the gown itself, many couture designers – including Regan – can create bespoke, handmade accessories to complete the ensemble. At Jordanna Regan Couture, Regan will often be asked by her brides to create a headpiece or veil and will use the same lace and fabric to create a stunning piece that will complement the wedding gown.
IS COUTURE FOR YOU?
For some, the decision to choose a couture gown could be a straightforward one. If you, as a bride- to-be, have a specific aesthetic, a strong interest in high fashion, a desire for the most beautiful lace and fabrics, and want something truly one-of-a- kind, then couture sounds like the perfect fit.
“Couture is for that fashion-savvy bride who appreciates quality and wants that unique, one-of-a-kind gown that is just hers,” says Regan. Like each element of your wedding, your gown – no matter whether it is a couture, made-to-order or off-the-rack dress – needs to fit within your budget. While the price point of a couture gown is almost always going to be higher than that of an off-the-rack gown, you are paying for the time, exclusivity and quality of your gown.
“Having a couturier custom design and make your wedding gown is a very time-consuming process. Consequently, a couturier’s prices are naturally more expensive than a bridal retailer. The cost of a wedding gown is subject to the fabrics selected and the amount of work involved in achieving the design,” says Regan.
If you’re unsure whether couture is for you, take the time in the early stages of your wedding planning to consider the pros and cons of each option – couture, made-to-order, made-to-measure and off-the-rack.
“I believe that the Queensland bridal couture industry will continue to grow every year, with more brides finding it hard to find their dream dress off-the-rack,” says Regan.
Before you make your choice on the type of ensemble that best suits you, browse the off-the- rack and made-to-measure gowns on offer at bridal boutiques, and visit or contact a couture designer to discuss their services. This will allow you to make the most informed decision, and ultimately have you heading down the aisle in a gown that will not only make you look, but also make you feel, like your best self.