Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Breaking down Bridal... Ready-to-Wear and Couture.

Breaking down Bridal…
The difference between ‘Ready-to-Wear’ and ‘Couture’

In Bridal, (and also in high-end fashion), most designers produce two types of collections, ‘Ready-to-Wear’ and ‘Couture’. While each of these terms are thrown around quite often in the media, stores and in general conversation, it can be difficult to understand exactly what the difference is between the two and exactly what it is that you are paying for with each option.

When it comes to the creation of these collections, you will find that the interpretation and ways of completing each type of work will differ from designer to designer. At Karen Willis Holmes, we offer both a Ready-to-Wear and a Couture option for the benefit of our brides. Given that there is so much to think about when you are out trying on gowns (especially in the early stages), we thought we might offer an explanation on the difference between these two options for you, so you can have some idea before trying to decide which option is best suited to your needs.

With a Couture gown, there is the freedom to have ANYTHING at all. Starting with a personal consultation, Karen works with you to design the perfect gown, made specifically to meet all your requirements. The tailoring of the gown is made-to-measure, fitted to your unique figure through a detailed process including a calico toile and five fittings. All the fittings and consultations are with Karen herself, ensuring that the gown fits perfectly and the final result will be the gorgeous 'dream dress', exactly how you had envisaged it.

If you are not sure about shapes and styles, there is a range of gorgeous Couture gown samples available to try on. If you have pictures of gowns that you love, (even if it is bits and pieces of different gowns) an original design can be made for you specially. Bring all your inspiration and ideas to the table, and Karen will help to work out the best possible option for you, tying in all the elements that you love for your perfect wedding gown.

With such a unique and personalised service, there is a higher price tag involved in Couture. All Couture gowns range from about $5,500 to $14,000 for designs similar to the styles we have. The time that goes into the detail of your gown, the amazing quality fabrics, the exceptional fit, personal fittings with Karen – all of this and more ‘behind the scenes’ action, add to the cost. The manufacturing of a bridal gown can take from 40 to 100 hours to complete to make sure it is absolutely perfect!

If you are seeking an experience with exceptional service and an exquisite one-off gown, then the couture option is for you!

Karen Willis Holmes 'Couture'
Maddison, Gabriella and Angelica

Ready-to-Wear gowns are sometimes referred to as being ‘off-the-rack’. Basically this term is pretty self-explanatory, meaning you walk into a store, try a few different sizes on, and buy a gown straight off the rack (the same as buying a casual summer dress for instance). With Karen Willis Holmes Ready-to-Wear gowns, the process is much more personal than this. The stores only have sample gowns for you to try, we design these samples to be as flexible as possible so we can pin them in or let them out for all different sizes and body shapes to try.

Once you have found the other big ‘one’ in the wedding process – the gown - and decide to purchase from the Karen Willis Holmes Ready-to-Wear collection, we then make a gown for you. They aren’t mass produced and waiting for purchase out the back – they are made to order. All Ready-to-Wear gowns are made in a standard size, but we are a lot more flexible with changes that can be made. You can get ‘split sizes’ which means you can order a gown with a size 10 bust, size 8 waist and size 12 hips. This allows for a lot more flexibility with your personal body shape (as not many people are the same size throughout their body). You can also get necklines altered slightly, add extra beading, or in some cases change the fabric the gown is made of. Let the store assistants know what you are loving about the gowns when you try them on and don’t be afraid to ask questions, as there are a lot of options for you to personalise your Ready-to-Wear gown to make it just right. Similarly if something doesn’t feel quite right about the gown, be sure to vocalise this also, as there may be options we can offer for your consideration to fix the gown to be just right for you.

Included in the price of your Ready-to-Wear gown are two appointments with a fitter, in which they work to hem the gown to the right length for you and also to correctly fit your bustle. We are happy to do any other work for you if needed to fit closer to your body shape and we charge accordingly.

The manufacturing of a wedding gown this way is of the same quality and fabrics as a Couture gown, but being made to a standard size and design takes much less time, hence the competitive edge in pricing.

The price of Ready-to-Wear wedding gowns start at $1489 and go up to approx. $4000.

Karen Willis Holmes 'Ready-to-Wear'
Roberta, Sophia and Emily (with Amy base gown)

All of our Ready-to-Wear and Couture gowns are made using the finest imported fabrics, laces and beading and all manufacturing of the gowns is completed in our Head office and studios in Newtown, under the strict direction and supervision of Karen.

If you have no idea yet whether you are after a Couture or Ready-to-Wear gown, this is not uncommon! It is absolutely fine to feel completely lost at the start of the process – you will have a better idea once you start trying different styles on and working out what you love in a gown. If this is the case, we do recommend that you head to one of our Ready-to-Wear stores first to get a feel for the shapes and styles of our gowns, and then we can help you either find the right gown for you in the Ready-to-Wear collection, or help you organise to book an appointment with Karen for a Couture appointment.

To view our collections, head to our website

The gowns on the site are only a selection of each collection, with more options in the stores, so please feel free to come into our stores and see the full range.

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Blogger melbournegirl said...

I am in love with the Sophia design!

May 21, 2010 at 12:09 PM  

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