You dream the dress, and Lacerlot makes it. So how does the collaboration happen? The ultimate luxury is something that is made entirely with you in mind from sketch to stitch, which is why we start from scratch with each order.
Using the Cécile Brünner dress as an example, I'll explain the 10-step Lacerlot process.
Step 1, Inspiration:
The Cécile Brünner dress first began with fabric. Lynn and I visited a beautiful fabric store in Oakland and placed silk rolls into our cart, then heaved them around the store for an hour. We began the stomach-churning edit of eliminating bolts from our bag until only one silk was left: a glossy pink dupioni with golden yellow undertones. The color perfectly suited Lynn's strawberry blonde hair and alabaster skin tone. In some lights the fabric shined a rosy pink, and in others the color deepened into a dusty salmon.
Step 2, Design:
Often the design ideas come first and fabric follows. In this case, we had sufficient yards of our pink silk to work backwards. Lynn showed me several photos of elegant cotton and linen day dresses on Pinterest, and we began thinking through which designs would synthesize with silk substituted. We considered where she could wear the dress (weddings coming up this summer), and what small yet crucial design elements were important to her (the origami shape of the collar, pockets, ability to roll the sleeves).
Watch the sketch below!
Step 3, Measurements:
I used to assume that clothing sizes corresponded to real body sizes. Astoundingly, clothing brands instead work backwards from a "target customer," an imagined person whose shape is ideal for their brand. Then, using secretive algorithms, the company scales up and down from that fantasy body to create patterns in other sizes.
It's why your size doesn't dependably fit you from brand to brand, and why clothes fit some areas of your body but not others. The shoddy fit leads women to feel insecure about their bodies, and contributes to more retail waste, because clothes that don't fit get tossed out.
When I started Lacerlot, it was essential to me that all dresses were made with each individual's specific body in mind.
It would be much easier for us to simply designate pattern sizes and have those pre-cut and ready to go for new orders. But my mother raised me to notice how well Princess Diana's dresses fit her: fabric was tailored to her figure and intensified the beauty of her body in the dress.
It's unimaginable to picture the Princess in a dress with pouchy fabric billowing and puckering in unflattering places. Her body looked fabulous in the dresses because the dresses were made for her body. Every Lacerlot woman deserves the same luxurious treatment.
Using the Lacerlot Measurement Guide I recorded Lynn's specific body measurements.
Step 4, Other Materials:
Contrary to the retail industry model, Lacerlot does not stockpile fabrics or notions in bulk, even though it would save a tremendous amount of time and effort on our end to do so.
Lacerlot searches, selects, and purchases every single element of your dress with your preferences in mind. In some cases, we manufacture custom sequins, in others, we hand-dye laces, whatever it takes to closely recreate your imagined dress. Lynn's Cécile Brünner dress needed thread and something hidden to clasp the front of the dress together.
We considered buttons, but since the piece required about 20 closures down the front of the dress, we realized snaps would be a much more convenient experience for her. After reviewing size options of the snaps, 7mm turned out to be just the right size: they're both delicately small but strong enough for the thick silk fabric.
Because none of the snaps in that size were sold in bright gold, we had them custom made in NYC in a small batch for Lynn's dress.
For the top collar button we combed through abalone shell options until we selected the perfect one that had just the right amount of pink opalescence.
Step 5, Patternmaking:
Lacerlot partners with dress and embroidery specialists in both the United States and in India. When a Lacerlot dress is ready to be made, I select the best expert among our partners to create that particular dress. The Cécile Brünner dress was created in Boston with my silk specialist, who is a genius at cutting and draping simple yet rich gowns.
We sat down together over several meetings and mapped out the design from collar to hem. She creates a pattern, then cuts it out into paper or thin fabric and drapes the pattern onto a dress form. We evaluate the dress draft in detail before cutting into the expensive silk fabric.
Step 6, Sewing:
Our Lacerlot seamstress carefully sews together parts of the dress, leaving off the collar and sleeves and other final touches to make sure that the base form is correct.
Step 7, Editing:
We bring in a fit model who has a similar body to the Lacerlot client and make adjustments with the original measurements in mind. The editing process can be quite lengthy, as adjustments might involve taking apart the whole dress and starting again.
In the Ready-to-Wear model, brands create sample upon sample of each piece in the collection in most sizes, and ship the drafts back and forth until they reach a version they're happy with producing in bulk. The cost and time involved in those many samples is justified by the assumption that they will be able to sell volumes of the finished product. Lacerlot instead strives to get the dress right from the moment we cut into the final fabric.
Once we finished editing the base, we added the snaps, collar, sleeves, and our single abalone button. I then sent photos of the dress to Lynn for her final thoughts and approval.
Step 8, The Label:
Thanks to embroidery lessons my mom sent me to when I was a little girl, I'm able to hand stitch each Lacerlot label using velvet and silk thread. It's my way of putting extra love personally from me into each dress.
Step 9, Wrapping:
My obsession with wrapping presents is one of those pursuits that seemed meaningless for many years, until suddenly it was extremely useful for delivering Lacerlot gowns.
I love spending hours wrapping each dress with scented tissue, creating the Lacerlot magnolias by hand and painting each petal, and using velvet ribbons or Italian paper I find in my favorite stationary locations.
Step 10, Delivery & Christening:
I wish I could be there in person each time someone opens a Lacerlot dress.
The Lacerlot teams' hearts are totally entwined with each Lacerlot dress, and it's essential to us that they bring happiness and beauty into their new owners' lives.
A Lacerlot dress does not represent a design that Lacerlot has created, rather it is composed entirely of the creativity and individuality of each Lacerlot woman. Lacerlot is the magic that transforms a dress you imagine into life.
I believe wholeheartedly in every woman's ability to dream up the perfect dress for herself: something that represents a part of her soul and that will make her feel more beautiful and confident than any pre-designed garment could.
Lacerlot women are asked to christen the dress they design. Lynn named her dress Cécile Brünner after the little pink roses (you can see them in the background of the above photo). They are resilient yet delicate, precise in their petals and wild in their branches, a perfect dichotomy for this gorgeous girl and her new silk dress.
To get started on your Lacerlot dress, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to sprinkling magic in your life!