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Behind the scenes of a custom wedding dress

  • Published at 06:33 pm December 19th, 2018
AT, wedding issue, Pg 49, Dec 2018
Photo: Kazi Ahnaf Aquib

Fariha Tashmeen Tinny, founder of VIOLA, and partner for ERA House sits poised and immaculate, make-up snatched, proudly wearing a shirt-dress of her own creation. We’re dishing about bridal couture, and she shares with us the process of creating a custom bridal outfit, from start to finish.

How do you come up with the concepts? Does it have to do anything with the personality of the bride?

First of all, I meet the client. We talk about her preferences on design, fabric, color, theme of the wedding, jewellery, overall her dream outfit and wedding. Based on that and the budget, I show them a raw sketch of the design. We customize it a little, taking her input and the process of the final outfit begins.

What is the appropriate time to reach you for a custom dress? How long does it usually take with the process?

Usually we take two months time to make the dress. Sometimes we make it in a month as well but that depends on the work pressure.

You tend to be a perfectionist in your work. How do you manage to create flawlessness in a time crunch?

Yes this sort of work needs patience and dedication. But most importantly your love and passion for the work makes it easier. Also you need skilled workmanship for perfection.

Do you do just lehengas, or are there other options as well?

So far I have designed lehengas, shararas, gowns and saris for brides. Most of my clients these days prefer lehengas and gowns to saris. I’m fairly comfortable with making any of the above.

You created your own outfit for your reception, how did that feel? Did you always want to do so?

Making my own outfit was a challenge because I had just started the bridal line, so I was new to it, and understandably nervous, but I told myself that no one understands my body and my preferences better than me. I’m a petite woman, so I selected an A-line silhouette that would create the illusion of height and curves. I added just a touch of volume to the bottom for that fairytale flair, careful not to go for too much flare, which would overwhelm my height. This is a style that flatters just about any size or shape, and is easy to move around in. I selected peach and gold with zardosi on the bodice, and lots of stones, Photo: Kazi Ahnaf Aquibsequins and mirror work to really channel the fairytale glitter. I balanced it with lace frills at the bottom, and topped it off with a gold dupatta with minimal work. The result was a glamourous, but elegant outfit – just the way I wanted it. Making my own wedding dress, gave me the deep understanding of how important this day can be for a bride and her family, and how a wedding dress can leave a lasting imprint on the whole event and thereafter.

What kind of budget should the bride keep in mind?

Since we make custom made bridal wears, we design them according to the client's budget. However, minimum budget should be BDT 35000.

Who picks the materials?

According to design client's preferences and comfort, we suggest what material shall be used.

Who sources the material?

I have a few fixed vendors. They send me fabric samples, and I choose from there. Sometimes I collect samples from other sources or maybe a picture of the color and texture, and they bring that for me.

How many fittings does it take for you to get the perfect outfit?

Most of the time we don't need much alteration. At max, two trials are enough.

With a custom design, how much of your own input do you get to put into the look?

In our first meeting, I clearly mention that the design is going to be my own. Once I take into account client preferences for type of pattern, color and occasion, I come up with my very own design. But yes, the clients' input plays a big role as well.

What are the three things you wish a bride would do when getting a custom couture outfit made?

A bride should trust the designer, have two months’ in hand before the event and not bring changes in design after the process has already been started.

Photo: Rifat Reza

Tell us about a memorable bride you had to work with (you don’t need to mention the name, just what she wanted)

One of my most favorite works is with a client who made two outfits from me for two wedding events. I loved working with her, because she was very specific and clear about what she wanted, and gave me full freedom of designing the pieces. And it was love at first fitting.

The two outfits were completely different. She wanted a traditional, elegant look for the first one, so we selected an ivory jamdani with gold zari work. To this, I added some vintage rose patterns in red, maroon and gold. The white sari was the perfect canvas, and the resulting outfit recalled a classic rose garden feel.

The second outfit was a voluminous fairytale gown in mauve, with heavy zardosi embroidery all over. The two layered outfit had an asymmetric floral cutwork on the border of the first layer, making it the most attractive part of the outfit. The dupatta had cutwork on the borders and the body was filled with thousands of stones, appearing like diamonds blooming in the garden. This was a masterpiece that I loved making. The best part was when I realized how pretty she feels wearing them. That’s the biggest achievement!

What was the biggest challenge you had to face with a custom design?

The biggest challenge I ever faced was making the relatives happy about the dress. Sometimes the relatives get more involved than the bride. They want to see each and every step of the design process. But sometimes, it is very difficult to understand from a raw design or at a primary stage of the process how the design will appear at the end. So attending to them and making them understand the beauty of the final body from the skeleton, is the toughest job I ever faced. But I love taking challenges and till now, I've brought happy tears from even the pickiest relatives.

What's a look you wish someone would ask you to make?

I wish to design a voluminous vintage-style wedding lehenga with intricate zardosi and floral patterns. Be it a classic red or modern pastels, it has to have royal and old-world vibe. The dress should symbolize romance, without being too sultry.

What's a look that you think should be retired?

Fish tail and straight cut lehengas should retire. It’s time for volume.

If you had to dress a celebrity, who would that be?

In our country, I'd love to design a bridal outfit for Mehazabein Chowdhury. We’ve worked together, so the comfort she brings along with her personality, inpires me to design an outfit for her special day. Other than her, my all time wish is to design an outfit for Sonam Kapoor.

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