It’s not often you find an eight-year-old girl creating outfits for her siblings using her mum’s leftover fabric, but for couture wedding dress designer Alana Aoun, that’s how it all began. From a young age, she knew that working in bridal fashion was her destiny. Following her first ‘design’ stint as a child, Alana went on to study in Paris, learning from some of the best wedding dress designers. She then set up shop in Sydney fifteen years ago. We caught up with Alana in her Paddington store to find out about the wedding dress biz and get a peek at her current collection (hint: it’s gorgeous). Keep scrolling for Alana’s top tips on wedding dress shopping, and what getting a custom-made wedding gown actually involves.
Alana Aoun Espoir wedding dress
What inspired you to design wedding dresses?
When I was growing up, my mother would spend whatever time she could spare doing crochet and I suppose being exposed to this type of workmanship early on ignited that passion in me and I was inspired by the beautiful things she created. Designing dresses is a way to express my creativity, a form of self expression. I have been fortunate that my passion for design has manifested into a business over the years.
How did you start working in bridal?
After my studies in Paris I went home to Lebanon and began working in bridal. My father encouraged me by setting up a shop in Jounieh, the town where we lived. I designed and sold evening and bridal wear for a year while continuing to gain experience working for another couturier at the time. It was my first taste of operating a business and it prepared me for what to expect in the future.
Alana Aoun Promesse wedding dress
Describe your signature style
I am committed to using only the finest materials in my work, silks and delicate laces from Paris, Swarovski crystals and gems sourced from around the world. I use traditional needle craft techniques, moulage and tambour beading when creating a collection. Opulent embellishment has become something of a trademark for me and I am constantly working on the loom to create new beading designs. I like to push the boundaries of design and craftsmanship beyond the expected.
What’s the difference between getting a gown straight off the rack, and having a gown made for you?
A couture gown is the result of a measured process of planning, refinement and construction which can involve hours upon hours of hand-crafting and fitting before the final silhouette is complete. A couture gown can be incredibly beautiful to look at and one can be amazed by the minute details on each gown, but it is also worth noting that with couture the most impressive work can sometimes be concealed. It will be in the corsetry that gives the structure to the gown, the carefully placed boning creating the perfect silhouette. That’s where the magic of couture lies.
Alana Aoun Ciel wedding dress, and belt
What training does a couture designer undertake?
The skill of a haute couturier lies in the ability to take a concept of colour and form and expand it to the highest level possible, therefore the training in couture methods of moulage and tambour beading for example can be quite extensive. Working with couturiers like Chouieter and Elie Saab I learned basic couture methods like hand-sewing and pattern making as well as extraordinary levels of craftsmanship and directional techniques.
Can you take us through the process of ordering a made-to-measure gown?
Typically a gown can take between 3-6 months to be made. Varying factors determine the time frame, from complexity of design to the level of detail on a gown. For made-to-measure brides, the first step is to discuss their ideas in a one-on-one appointment, try on different styles to see which silhouette works for their body and sketch out any changes they would like to make to an existing design, or work on creating a unique design tailored to their budget. Once a design has been decided on, precise measurements are taken, and then the next appointment will be the calico toile fitting where the shape and fit are perfected. Once the pattern is ready the gown is cut and ready for the construction process. The bride may have several fittings during this stage to ensure the perfect fit and finish.
Any tips for brides searching for their dream dress?
It is important that a bride understands what works for her body shape so that she is wearing the most flattering silhouette for her form. Every bride is different, with their own vision of how they want to look on their big day. The beauty of made to measure is you are so involved in the process, from initial stages to completion that you cannot help but feel special knowing something unique and wonderful is being created just for you.
Alana Aoun Lumiere wedding dress
Want to see more of Alana Aoun’s gorgeous gowns? Follow her on Instagram: @alanaaoun
Have you considered getting a wedding dress made for you, Knotties?
by The Knot