Studio tour: The English Dept

Name: Elizabeth Dye
Location: Portland, Oregon
Company: The English Dept.

What do you do? I am a dress designer specializing in non-traditional wedding gowns. I’ve been working as a clothing designer for about 10 years, and bridal has become more and more my specialty. It really chose me—my first wedding gowns were for friends who despaired that there was nothing out there for them in traditional gown-land. Since then I’ve discovered that it’s a niche that really suits my sensibilities. I love to get a bit fancy, and that dash of drama seems just right for a special garment like a wedding dress.

What is your aesthetic? Modern simplicity inset with antique details. I like classic dress silhouettes that are universally flattering, re-invented using unusual fabrics and mixed-media details. Whenever possible, I incorporate fabrics and trims that have that soft-focus charm I associate with heirloom garments from the late 19th and early 20th century. The most incredible dresses were being made in those decades—it’s really the last era of handmade, before the Industrial Revolution and mechanized garment manufacture changed everything. Although I’m past the point where I’m able to make everything myself, by hand, I want all my dresses to have that feeling. I want my dresses to feel personal, intentional, and loved.

How does your studio style convey your professional aesthetic? Since this is my work space, it really needs to be spare and uncluttered. That said, the limited palette of whites and pale neutrals is very much my style! I keep cuts of antique lace, buttons and trims in bins within easy reach, since these pieces always inspire me. I am a visual person and am known to tape a piece of lace or ribbon to the wall to keep myself thinking about how to use it.

Favorite part of your studio? I fell in love with the light immediately—the north-facing windows deliver soft, steady sunlight all day long. In our often rainy Northwest, good light is crucial to helping me stay productive and in a sunny mood!

Where do you go for inspiration? Historical garments, period films and set pieces. I love the Regency Period, as well as the silver screen glamour of the 1930s. I believe that many of the most beautiful dresses in the world have already been made, and I enjoy rediscovering and reimagining those ideas from my own point of view.

What tool do you use in your business that you can’t live without? She’s not really a tool, but Sarah (my studio assistant) helps make it all possible! Not only does she contribute to the very real work of cutting and assembling the dresses, she is a wonderful sounding board for new ideas and design challenges. I am by nature a collaborative creator, and I love having her in the mix—it makes me a better designer.

Is there anything you’d upgrade to? I wish I could clone her and have a roomful of helpers. Baby steps.

Anything else we should know? There’s a lot of emphasis on “the dress” when it comes to planning a wedding, and it’s my mission to make that dress an enjoyable and meaningful part of the journey. Marriage is a momentous time in people’s lives, and I think it’s wonderful that more and more brides are choosing alternatives to the soulless ritual of buying a big poofy princess gown off the rack. I have been fortunate to meet many incredible women who have honored me with their trust by wearing one of my dresses. I think I have a pretty great job.

[images from Lisa Warninger]

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Joanna August

Last week I had the pleasure of enjoying tea with Joanna August, a super talented designer out of California who does gorgeous bridesmaids and wedding dresses.  Her objective is simple: she’ll only make dresses that she herself would wear, and that can absolutely be worn again.  Its more about making dresses that can be used FOR weddings, rather than bridesmaids dresses that can be worn OUTSIDE of weddings.  Pretty clever if you ask me.

[images from Joanna August]

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Reem Acra

Reem Acra won my award for best in show!  I’ve always loved her dresses, and this collection was no exception.  Her details were total perfection with creative rouching, architectural ruffles and flowers, and lingerie inspired corsets.

The dress above (bottom left and right) had to be my absolute favorite…those pleats were perfectly modern.

The top dress (above left and right) has handmade ruffles, making it so no dress of this design is the same…fabulous right?

[images by Brooklyn Bride]

Bridal market

I spent the weekend gallivanting around town for bridal market with some lovely ladies and wanted to show you some of my best of’s from the collections I saw…I’ll save my favorite for later today!

Amsale showed some great new stuff, and I was especially liking her dresses using this embossed looking jacquard fabric (bottom left).  Very different and very fresh!

Kenneth Pool surprised me because I’m not usually a poofy dress kinda gal, but these were definitely done in a way I could totally support!  Elegant and modern all at once.

Rivini was a new one for me this year, but I was more than happy for the introduction.  Their ruffles were constrained in the most interesting way making the dress details incredibly 3D and textural, and their layers of fabrics with raw edges were some of my favs.

Romona Keveza is the queen when it comes to elegant draping and making a bride look her sexiest. Her final dress (bottom right corner) was filled with cascading petals, it was pretty amazing!

If you want to see more pro pics from all the shows, click over to Aisledash for all the latest galleries!  You’ll eventually be able to find the rest of my photos from the shows I attended over on our Facebook page.

[images by Brooklyn Bride]

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Studio tour: Junko Yoshioka

junko yoshioka salon 2

junko yoshioka salon 2

junko yoshioka salon 3

Name: Junko Yoshioka

Location: 580 Broadway, Soho, NY at Prince Street

Company: Junko Yoshioka Bridal

What is your aesthetic? Clean, Elegant and Detail Oriented

How does your studio style convey your professional aesthetic? Organic, modern, simple and clean

Favorite part of your studio? The oversized white chandelier

Where do you go for inspiration? The museum

What tool do you use in your business that you can’t live without? Scissors and pins

Is there anything you’d upgrade to? Champagne and caviar at every fitting

Anything else we should know? One seamstress does a brides dress from start to finish!

[images from Junko Yoshioka]

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