Local designers create custom-made fantasy bridal gowns.
Every bride wants to feel and look beautiful on her wedding day. Flawless makeup. Every hair in place. The perfect bridal gown that looks like it was made especially for her. Sometimes it is.
Brides-to-be often turn to designers for the gown of their dreams. Stella Thomas is known internationally for her avant-garde and eye-catching clothing and accessories, but more focus will be on her bridal work when Atelier Stella, her new shop, opens this February in Stillwater.
Thomas enjoys meeting with brides-to-be, discussing designs, selecting fabrics and working together on ideas and inspiration so she can give the bride exactly what she wants. The result is a dream dress that fits perfectly with no need for three or four alterations, said Thomas, who has won design competitions, worked as a designer and bridal consultant for a Philadelphia store and designed for the queen of Thailand. Her husband’s job brought the family to Oklahoma.
Making a wedding dress involves a lot of attention to detail from the fabric and pattern to beadwork and draping. “For me, I always wanted something different,” Thomas said. “That’s what I’m trying to put in my design. If you’re wearing a Stella Thomas, it’s going to be a standout look — more avant-garde, one-of-a-kind and unique. My fabrics are sourced from around the world. I’m doing one piece for one bride.”
Tiffany Holliman recently quit her job as a medical sales representative so she could concentrate on building her custom bridal business, Avari. Holliman became interested in design and taught herself to sew while at Classen School of Advanced Studies. She studied business at OU but kept thinking about fashion. She started making dresses for herself, friends and then clients. “One day I realized I have strangers in my house,” Holliman said.
She bought a studio in Midtown but later married, moved to Dallas and opened a second shop. Traveling back and forth isn’t an issue because she works with women who are willing to do something exciting and put themselves into a design. “That’s what has made it so fun for me,” Holliman said. “They’re not looking for something other people had. I get a sense of their style, and I’m designing something specifically for them.”
Holliman said women tend to come to her for “something fun and whimsical with tulle and 3D embellishments. That’s what people know me for. They’re going for a fun, fashionable kind of dress.”
Custom bridal gowns often require hundreds of hours of work and anywhere from three to six months, depending on the look and sourcing of materials. But a dream gown is worth the wait.
Photography: Shevaun Williams & Associates
Model: Elaine Smith, Brink Model Management
Stylist: Samia Moses Creative
Hair and makeup: Teresa Luz
Location: Inasmuch Foundation Crystal Bridge Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens