As a visual storyteller, my goal is to unravel tales of love and beauty from the past with each gown. Through the fabrication, silhouette, and inspiration, I strive to ensure that each piece tells its own story and takes you to another place in time.
My love for wedding gowns and the bridal market has been a lifelong passion. Growing up on the plains of North Dakota, my early experiences with fashion started on the sewing machine making quilts and outfits for myself as a young girl. After receiving a Bride's Magazine at the age of ten, this put a fire through my veins to create wedding gowns. To me it wasn't just a pretty white dress, but being able to dress a woman on one of the most exciting and happiest days of their life.
As a teenager, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of becoming a designer. I devoted my time to perfect my craft at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Through time at FIDM and working in different markets within the fashion industry, I did not forget my first love: bridal.
In 2012, I set out to make my first custom gown. This feat set the tone for the process of creating a dress from the ground up, emphasizing on keeping the overall vision personal and one-of-a-kind. Each piece is hand-crafted by myself and a team of skilled local craftsmen and built to mold each bride's form.
In 2016, after years of dreaming and anticipation, I set out to design and create my first collection based on my lifelong affection for 1950s Havana, Cuba. Because of my fascination with history and love affair with nostalgia, I decided to take a backwards approach to design; taking time periods and places and drawing inspiration from that. It has been essential from the beginning stages of the dreaming process that the Gretchen Dawley brand would never just morph into what is trending for the season or the time, but what could be worn for decades to come. This is the impression behind the brand. My vision is simple, to not let beauty get trapped in time. From concept to final creation, I seek to keep the character of the past, but make it modern and relevant.
Photos by Job Garcia