The great Meryl Streep put it so well and so honestly when she said, "I want to feel my life while I'm in it." I once read that somewhere a few years back, and it has always stuck in my brain. Feeling your life; what a concept. Life is complex. That may seem like such a broad and understated statement, but it's a simple fact. Throughout this life, we experience moments of bliss, sadness, heart break, joy, dreams coming true, expectations crushed...all of it. The thought of feeling all of those things within this lifetime seems daunting, but there is also such a beauty in it. The thing is, I don't just want to feel my life, but I want to remember it.
There's something about sewing two pieces of gorgeous French lace together, hand-stitching scallops along a neckline or hem, and the way it feels to take a pencil to paper with a new vision or idea. All of those things evoke a certain 'feeling' for me that may mean nothing to the next person, but means the world to me. Whether it be the sketching phase or the final fitting phase of a wedding gown's creation, to me it's never been just about making a pretty dress. It's about telling a story, awakening an emotion, or showcasing a woman in a way that shows exactly who she is and what she's trying to say with what she's wearing down the aisle.
I recently started a design diary simply to remember my creations with sketches, swatches, and photos. Being my nostalgia-loving self, I wanted to keep a record that would bring me back to that 'feeling' by looking at the strokes of the pencil, the feel of the fabric, and images of the bride in the gown that was meant for her. I'd like to invite you along on this journey with me, and share tidbits of my diary with you from time to time.
This first entry going into my diary has a major soft spot in my heart. It's the memory of the first Gretchen Dawley custom gown. It belongs to the beautiful Kayla Gilbert. Kayla actually came to me at 12-years-old asking me to make her gown and kept her word 10+ years later. This beauty is my cousin and lifelong best friend. It's so special that of all people, she would be my first bride. The dress-making process, especially for my first one, was challenging and time consuming, but the end product was worth all the sleepless nights; not to mention, the extra time we got to spend together through the process. The dress fit her like a glove and embodied her romantic, lovely demeanor. It featured a built-in bustier to accentuate her hourglass figure, blush silk satin topped with ivory French alencon lace, French scallops along every neckline and hem, and 85 covered buttons down the back of the gown. Every detail made this gown completely one-of-a-kind and unique for Kayla. Going back down memory lane looking through these photos, makes my heart flutter just thinking about how perfect she looked and how lucky I was to get to dress her on one of her favorite days to date.
This one's for you, Kay.