retro chicago bride

Her Own Woman

Confident about who they are, today’s brides dress the part – regal, avant-garde, exotic, retro elegant
by Stacey Jones 
photography by Jack Perno

One-of-a-Kind Weddings

Where to go to do your own thing-the basics and the high end
by Stacey Jones

illustration of bride

When most young girls imagine their wedding day, they have an idea of how their dress will look, what the groom will be wearing, what color the bridesmaids’ dresses will be, and whether the bouquets they carry will be clusters of roses, orchids, or lilies. Yet once the planning begins, the search for the perfect dresses, tuxedos, and accessories can be daunting. Fortunately, the days of full-skirted cookie-cutter wedding dresses and polyester tuxedos are over. Designers and boutiques are getting creative with fabrics, colors, and styles and offering special services for everyone in the wedding party.


Having It Made

With more couples preferring one-of-a-kind items, the business of customizing is growing, and a tailor-made wedding can now be achieved without breaking the bank. If a bride looks through magazines and discovers that her ideal wedding gown would combine the bodice of one designer dress and the skirt of another in a fabric of her own choosing, then having a gown handmade could be her best option.

Maria Soon Song is a couture tailor who will review photographs of dresses with a client to come up with a design that is perfect for the bride and the formality of the event. In business for 14 years, Song knows which fabrics will work best and which shapes will flatter certain figures. Once a design is agreed upon, she needs four to six months to complete the gown. Salon of Dress-making, 65 East Oak Street; 312-642-4554. Prices on request.

At Mira Couture, custom dresses with haute touches are a specialty. The mother-and-daughter owners will confer with brides to sketch a design, and the in-house seamstresses can hand-sew beading on fabrics and have crystals custom colored. As the fittings progress, the design of the dress can evolve-a neckline might be deepened; cap sleeves can be added. Mira Couture, 1 East Delaware Place; 312-255-1699. Prices from $2,500.

Celebrity clients such as Lucy Liu and Christina Ricci covet the luxurious fabrics and modern unadorned styles of Saeyoung Vu Couture. The shop is known for its column silhouettes and for its custom jackets and shrugs made of cashmere or Chantilly lace. But you will not find any beading on these dresses; the designers believe in sleek, sophisticated styles with minimal detailing-perhaps
a lovely sash in a contrasting color. Saeyoung Vu Couture, 1745 North Cly- bourn Avenue; 312-337-3252. Prices from $1,000 to $5,000.

One of the best sources for material is Fishman’s Fabrics. This 103-year-old company can accommodate brides and even ensembles for entire wedding parties. With about 10,000 bolts of material in stock, Fishman’s never runs out of fabric. It carries imports from England, Italy, India, and China, as well as trims from South Africa. The store has the largest selection of luxury laces in Chicago-about 100 kinds-from hard-to-find Chantilly to Schiffli. Fishman’s Fabrics, 1101 South Desplaines Street; 312-922-7250. Prices from $7.95 to $400 a yard.

For exotic imported fabrics with intricate hand beading for dresses and veils, try Regal Traders. Among the unusual offerings are custom Japanese silk charmeuse for a wedding gown and a dusty-rose Swiss net hand embroidered with gold and silver beading for a veil. Many of Regal’s customers are in search of vibrant colors and embroidery, but the shop also stocks rich fabrics in paler hues. Regal Traders, 2616 West Devon Avenue; 773-973-1368. Prices from $10 to $1,000.


Details, Details

Even if you do not have the time or the inclination to have a wedding dress custom designed, there are boutiques with unusual accessories that will make your look exceptional. At The Left Bank, brides can find one-of-a-kind pieces or request their own creations. One bride had a headpiece made with seashells that she had collected on a beach in Hawaii, the destination for her wedding. Another had her mother’s headpiece reworked, and enough material was left over to make a matching handbag. The Left Bank, 1155 West Webster Avenue; 773-929-7422. Prices from $98 to $400.

Custom veils are a specialty at Urbane Weddings. A bride can choose the type of netting, the color, and the length; then the kind of lace used in her wedding dress or the beads from her grandmother’s wedding gown can be incorporated as trim. For the groom, Urbane Weddings carries one-of-a-kind cuff links made of vintage buttons set in sterling silver. Sports fans can get on the waiting list for vintage cuff links saluting the White Sox, Cubs, or Bears. Urbane Weddings, 1920 North Damen Avenue; 773-289-3000. Prices from $100 to $1,000.

At James Ciccotti Bridal Shoes & Accessories, embellishments such as Swarovski crystals and antique brooches can be added to your shoes, the fabric from your wedding gown can be applied as trim, and even your heel height can be customized. Ciccotti also has a wide range of wedding shoes on hand in his salon. James Ciccotti Bridal Shoes & Accessories, 826 West Armitage Avenue; 773-525-4280. Prices from $195; special orders, four to six weeks.


A Man’s World

More grooms are having their tuxedos custom made these days-perhaps to keep pace with their brides-and their groomsmen are often following suit. At George Greene, men have 12 fabrics to choose from and a number of options for the lining. The owners of this exquisite men’s boutique will meet with clients to discuss their expectations, the style of the wedding, and their budget before presenting appropriate choices. For a wedding in Paris, a groom recently decided on a double-breasted tuxedo in midnight blue with burgundy silk lining, natural horn buttons, and black grosgrain detailing down the sides of the trousers. George Greene, 49 East Oak Street; 312-654-2490. From $2,100 to $7,000.

If you want a custom tuxedo but do not have the time to shop, have someone come to you. A designer from Hinsdale Clothiers will stop by your home or office to show you styles and fabrics and take measurements. The shop will also make ties, vests, cummerbunds, and tuxedo shirts. Hinsdale Clothiers, 777 North York Road, Hinsdale; 630-323-1858. Prices from $1,100 to $1,700.

Singular Celebrations part 1

Singular Celebrations part 2