Friday, May 29, 2009

A Couture Wedding Gown

The big news in my family is that my son Blake is getting married this July. We have been busy planning for the wedding, and I have enjoyed being involved with his fiancĂ©’s family. I am so pleased to contribute where I have skills. This involves announcements, invitations, and, some sewing.

I did not want to tackle the wedding gown (I gave up making wedding gowns many years ago), but I did know someone who would be perfect for the honor. One of my past students at Mesa College, Elena Ham, had started a couture wedding gown business. Elena is Russian, and came to the U.S. some years ago. She began taking courses at the college to refresh the skills and talents she already possessed. She now owns and runs Va Lena Valentina Couture. (

The process of designing the gown started last fall. I will take your through some of it here.

First of all, meet Elena and Kendra (my future daughter-in-law).

Kendra, her mom Keena, and I met with Elena to begin the process. Kendra and Keena had looked at many commercial wedding gowns, so they had some idea of what they were hoping to create. They sat with Elena, amidst wedding magazines and many pictures of gowns, and discussed the features they were looking for. Then, Elena began to sketch. Together they came up with the image of the gown they believed would work. It was so fun to be an observer to the creative process. We looked at many fabrics, (all silk), and Kendra chose a silk dupionni, which is utterly gorgeous. I have a particular fondness for dupionni, as it is a fabric, created initially by two silk worms who spin their cocoons together. I like to call it ‘love silk’ in my textiles class.

Next came the measuring. Elena took body measurements of Kendra, and recorded these for her use. She told us that there would be several fittings, some in muslin, and some in the final silk.

I will keep you updated on the process of the gown’s development. I don’t have all the photos we’ve taken with me (as I am working abroad at the moment), but I do have some that I can share. It is utterly beautiful. More in an upcoming blog.

Back in Action

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. The last few months of our Spring Semester at Mesa College are consumed with the production of our year-end fashion show. This occurred on May 15th, and is immediately followed by final exam week, massive grading, and whoosh… it is over. I become a free woman, ready to re-focus on Cochenille development.

So, I’m back in blog action. The summer is here, and I’m already in retreat, working on new products or updating past software. I am doing this currently in Verona, Italy. My many United miles of past, allow me to continue to travel “free” to parts of the world. Combining that with a wonderful relationship with an Italian family that has taken me into their realm, I am able to afford luxuries such as staying abroad, working on projects, and living the life as a local (sort of). My Italian is rusty and basic, but I continue to study.

So, prepare to be caught up via this blog, on various fashion and design things of past, and to be introduced to what I am seeing and learning fashion-wise here in Italy currently!