Wedding Dresses & Style

Aisha’s Bold Burlesque

posted: 03/13/13
by: TLC
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Kelly and Sam raise a glass to Aisha's red wedding dress.

California bride Aisha was planning a burlesque-themed wedding and wanted a red wedding dress for the occasion. Sister-in-law Amburr offered Aisha her wedding dress, but a simple, slim A-line wasn't exactly what Aisha had in mind -- designer cache not being a factor! As Amburr braced herself for a total transformation of her beloved Monique Lhuillier gown, Aisha stormed the racks with Sam, who knew finding an aisle-worthy red dress wouldn't be easy!

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Aisha's Borrowed Gown After

What were the basic details of the original dress?

It was a Monique Lhuillier -- simple and beautiful v-neck gown made of ribbed silk.

What were the elements that really dated the dress?

This dress wasn't dated at all! It was a newer and very relevant dress for the modern bride, but it wasn't what Aisha envisioned for her wedding day. If it were up to me, I would have never in a million years cut into that Monique Lhuillier dress.

What were the biggest challenges in transforming the dress?

Dyeing it! This almost turned into a disaster. It had to be dyed twice, and I felt like I couldn't get the color right. When you're trying to dye different fabrics the same color, you never know what you're going to get! All fabrics take dye differently, so it was a stressful challenge to get all of the pieces the same tone.

What was your inspiration for the transformation?

Burlesque -- Aisha was in love with a burlesque theme. And since we were going big, I decided to go big in a fashion -forward way.

What details from the transformation would you like to point out?

Dyeing the dress took so much time that I didn't have time to completely finish the final dress for the reveal. Once we finished filming, I added another layer of tulle to the bottom of the dress and filled in the bottom back to be more dramatic! Even though she didn't choose my dress, it's still extremely important to me that the dress is finished and polished to match my original vision for the client.

What did you think when Aisha didn't choose your dress?

I thought for sure Aisha would choose my dress! I love Sam and I love his taste, but I didn't love this new dress. It's pretty safe to say that he didn't have much to choose from, and this was the best choice given his options for a red dress. I thought the new dress looked too much like a costume, and I wasn't in love with the fabric. It was a shiny poly satin. It reminded me of an inexpensive recreation of a dress from the late 1800s. The borrowed dress was silk! And I used a hand-beaded mesh lace with delicate embroidery as an overlay. Those details with the added layers of tulle created just the right drama for a wedding-appropriate red dress!

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Aisha's New Gown

How did Aisha's wedding venue and theme influence your dress choices for her?

The venue and theme influenced my dress choice in every way. Aisha planned to get married in a theater, and her theme was burlesque. To top it all off, Aisha dreamed about wearing a red wedding dress! It was difficult not to be influenced by all of that. Though it wasn't my cup of tea, I loved that Aisha wanted to do something personal and original for her wedding day; as her stylist, I wanted to honor her vision and make it happen. Red dresses happen to be a big trend on the bridal runways this season, but the burlesque theme made things risky. I wanted Aisha to look like a bride and not like she was wearing a costume.

Part of me was on her Mom's team and wanted to see her reaction if she actually tried a white wedding dress, but I decided to stay on track and keep everything focused on the bride and her wishes. I knew I had to nail the color of the dress, but I was concerned I wasn't going to be able to deliver on the burlesque element without some creative accessorizing. As you saw, I got very lucky and found the perfect designer gown from France. The dress gods were definitely on my side that day.

Based on her body shape and personal style, what types of dresses did you pull for Aisha?

Aisha had a very specific idea of style and color for her dress, which helped narrow my pull a lot. She wanted a particular shade of red, and the skirt had to be full with lots of details, pick-ups, embellishments and other elements to make it special. I found two corseted style dresses from Farag? Paris that were practically perfect. The brighter red dress worked really well with the proportions of Aisha's body, but the color wasn't quite right. The deep red dress had all the bells and whistles this bride was looking for, and the skirt was a showstopper. The deeper red was more of a drop waist style, so I raised the starting point of the skirt higher on the bodice to create a more flattering line. I lined the sheer corseted bodice with a panel of fabric from the skirt to make it more modest, and then filled out the line skirt with a crinoline petticoat. The end result made Aisha swoon.

Do you have recommendations for Aisha's hair, makeup and accessories for an overall bridal look based on the dress she chose?

This was a very busy dress and red to boot, so less was definitely more when it came to styling the finished look. Though the dress came with a choker, it was way too much and cluttered things up (at least for me). We decided on a loose updo to bring focus to Aisha's face and elongate her neck. A pair of statement earrings was just enough sparkle to complete the look. I really wanted an oxidized silver and crystal earring because the more muted tones suited the colors and embellishment on the dress and brought in some of the black cast and sheen on the fabric. Jet, which is a natural black stone, would have been great, too! The makeup had to standout a bit so as to balance the boldness of the dress -- but not look overdone or costumey -- so we kept it simple with a little extra focus on the eye and lip.

What did you think when Aisha chose your dress?

I would have been bummed if Aisha didn't choose my dress. I had nothing left to give, and I thought I had totally nailed her vision. I really loved the fabric Kelly used on the top of her something borrowed, and I thought with another fitting or two it would have been stunning, but in that moment I loved my dress more. It was actually a wedding dress that spoke to everything Aisha wanted, so I think it was meant to be. I was ecstatic when she came out in my something new, and I thought she looked happy and beautiful. Mission accomplished!

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