A premiere bridal dress shop, Frankfort's Fiancée Couture, brings a world of sophisticated fashion design to the Lincoln-Way communities.
Owner Maria Paez knows the fashion design industry inside and out. Born in Venezuela, she was a fashion model at the age of 19. Having walked the runway many times, she knows what's it's like to have all eyes on her. Today, she wants every bride to unabashedly take the stage as she walks down the aisle.
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Although many brides-to-be in their everyday lives shy away from high-end sophistication, she reminds them that they are "the queen" for that one day. "I say to them, 'You want to be yourself, but be glamorous that day."
Buying a wedding dress should not consist of simply visiting shops and trying on dresses. It should be an experience. Walk into Fiancée Couture, 53 Old Frankfort Way, and that's what you get. From the moment the jingle over the door sounds, the bride enters a realm that totally sweeps her off her feet. An elegant sitting area surrounded by artistic photographs of brides and grooms works to set the stage for a process that evolves to accommodate the bride. An array of ball-gown styles and other sleek designs serve rather to feature various fashion designers and accentuate the shop rather than stock it.
It's here that Paez welcomes her brides-to-be and their guests. "I begin by talking to them," finding out the date and location of the wedding. It's a chance to get to know the bride, her personality and to determine whether or not the woman has some ideas in mind for the dress.
Introducing Americans to custom designs
The next step is the fitting room. "We're going to try on all the styles." Girls will tell her that they don't care off-hand for a lot of lace or beading. "I tell them to try it," because it's likely they've never tried that style of glamour before. "I had one bride who came in and said 'I don't like lace; I don't beading; I don't like veils.'" But when she tried it on, she saw someone who was beautiful. "That's exactly what she got—a dress with lace and beading and a veil."
"For me, it's unique designs. I'm very selective with the lines that I'm going with. I work exclusively with designers. Nobody else in Illinois has those gowns. …You need to be original."
In her native country, Paez said it is customary for brides to work with the designer or the seamstress. That's not the case in America. However, she believes it should be. This is a special day, and the dress should be fitted and created specifically for the individual.
Don't forget to check the list of bridal industry businesses
Paez works with designers in London and Columbia, another who trained in Italy, Katelyn Pankoke, who recently featured the designs, she shares with Fiancée Couture on the "Project Runway" show. During the interview with Patch, Chicago bridal designer Ronald Rodriguez showed up. He was meeting with a client to create the perfect gown for her wedding day.
The location of the ceremony is key in determining the style, she said. If it's an outdoor wedding, and the bride is afraid of dragging a long train or veil through a field, Paez suggests inviting a couple flower girls to pick up the train and walk behind her. A church or cathedral wedding welcomes all styles; a long train looks elegant when the bride walks down the aisle.
The most current bridal designs feature princess-style ball gowns, slimming mermaid looks, and A-line gowns. Lace and beading are popular too.
Paez' favorite brides
- The gown and shoes worn by Bella in the movie "Twilight Breaking Dawn."
- The gown worn by Princess Diana when she married Prince Charles in 1981 at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
Bridal industry businesses:
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