You may have thought that having a custom wedding dress was only for Disney princesses and the Kardashians, but what if I told you that you could get a custom gown designed just for you, right here in Spokane? Nina Cherie Couture can help bring that dress you’ve been dreaming of since you were a little girl to life. Bonus – she does also does dress transformations and alterations! We sat down with her to learn more about the magic she can help you create on your big day.
How did you get started in custom dress design?
Although I started sewing at the age of nine and made many different types of garments, I didn’t start sewing bridal gowns until about 10 years ago when a good friend of mine who is a wedding designer asked me to make a custom gown for one of his clients. I was an apprentice for a Master Tailor at the time so I figured I would take it on and let him help me if I had any issues. It was definitely challenging but I really loved the experience of working with a bride and piecing all the details together to build her dress. From then on, I was hooked and welcomed any opportunity to do more! I am formally trained in Patternmaking and have my degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I worked in New York’s fashion industry for several years before coming to the inland northwest and eventually opening up my own business doing what I love.
How does the process of designing a custom dress work?
The process of designing a custom works by having the bride first show me sketches of what her ideas are. From there we pick the fabric and trim details that will be on the gown. I then build a mock version of all or part of the dress for fit purposes. This is called a “muslin” and it’s just a basic cotton garment to give me and the bride an overall idea of how the actual dress will look and fit. After the muslin is done and all changes/modifications are discussed, the actual dress construction starts and fittings are incorporated until the construction is completed. This process can take anywhere from a matter of weeks to months depending on the complexity of the design and details involved.
What other services do you offer?
In addition to designing custom gowns, I offer bridal, formal gown and dress alterations, dress redesigning (taking any part of the dress and changing it to something else) and custom bridal gown accessories (veils, belts, sashes, etc.). Soon I will be offering a collection of my own and private label bridal gowns for purchase in my studio as well.
What’s your favorite part about what you do?
I love working with brides because of how personal and intimate the experience is. I love that I get to play a major role in creating something that will be remembered for a lifetime. It’s very different from any other garment that can be created because there is an emotional tie to it. I just love that I have a gift that can literally make a dream come true for someone else. It’s very rewarding.
How do you help ensure the dress is a perfect fit?
If a bridal gown does not fit properly, I can often explore options with the bride to change or revise the style to make it compliment her figure properly while still looking as though it was the original design. The goal is to always make it look like all the changes were meant to be there and not blatantly added to make the gown fit. Everything should look seamless.
How much do your custom dresses cost?
The cost for designing a custom gown solely depends om the actual design and materials being used to construct it. If we are doing a silk and lace ballroom gown, the cost can easily exceed $4,000, whereas a simple sheath dress can cost a fraction of that. My prices for custom bridal gowns start at around $1,000 and go up from there. Many brides will bring me a gown that they purchased “off the rack” inexpensively that may have some details they love, and we use that as a base to build the dress they really want. This is usually more cost effective than building a gown completely from scratch. It just all depends on what the bride wants and what her budget allows. But if you can dream it, I can build it!