What You Need to Know When Ordering a Custom Gown
Couture designer Geraldina Shabani tells you the made-to-order details.
You “just know” when you find The One – and that goes not just for your true love but for your wedding dress, too.
So what if you find the perfect mate but not the perfect gown? Or what if the perfect gown exists only in your imagination? Then it may be time to consider having your gown custom-made. And nobody knows custom dresses better than Geraldina Shabani, owner of Geraldina’s Couture in Hartsdale, who designs high-end custom wedding dresses and other couture garments.
Shabani, an Albanian native who made her first dress at age 10 and ran a fabric company by the time she was 18, has worked with the upper echelon of the fashion world, including Dior, Fendi, and Dolce & Gabbana, where she had positions such as a fitter and alterations seamstress.
We asked the Westchester resident, who came to the US from Greece seven years ago, what’s involved in “going custom.”
What happens during the consultation with a bride-to-be?
They may describe what they want, or I may suggest what would look best for their silhouette. I can work from a photograph, or I can drape different fabrics on them to customize their look. During a series of fittings, usually two to five, we can change, add, or remove aspects of the dress to suit their vision. I am their partner until they are happy with the final garment.
What if a bride doesn't know what silhouette or fabric she wants?
I'll show her samples and photos, and we can search the Internet together for ideas. I am stocked with many fabrics, but I can also shop raw materials specifically for her.
What are the steps of the design process?
I create a gown from the inside out. I find the bride’s shape first by draping fabric on her body and start with the bustier. I size the dress from the inside, create my pattern, then build the lining. The outside of the dress is the final step.
How is the dress physically assembled?
My seamstress and I work very closely, as she sews to my specifications the type of stitches or techniques I know will work best for the fabric, styling, and final effect.
Can you ‘copy’ an expensive designer gown?
Yes, I can construct any style and decorative detailing. I can also take a top from one gown and a skirt from another; I do that for many clients.
What are the most versatile fabrics for wedding gowns?
I love to work with silk organza, chiffon, and very light tulle. These fabrics give volume but are not heavy for the bride to wear.
What styles, colors, and fabrics are most popular right now?
Although white is classic, brides are seeking a sexier look now. Backless and strapless are very in, especially for summer brides. Beaded fabrics are also very popular, as are romantic and vintage looks.
What is the starting price for a custom gown?
Usually around $4,000.
How far in advance should a bride consult you?
One year in advance gives plenty of time to prepare patterns and search for special fabrics. I do work quickly, so I can do this in six months if I have to.
What is the most important consideration when ordering a custom gown?
Budget is the most important consideration, which is why I have varieties of fabrics on hand in various price points.
How do you price your work?
It depends on what techniques are required, the fabrics used and the yardage, the dress silhouette, and the body type.