We welcomed our muse Lauren into the SANT ELIA studio just six months after giving birth to her beautiful daughter, Poppy. A combination of the recent lockdown lull and juggling her new role as a mother saw Lauren uncertain of her bridal vision. She spoke of her wishes for something romantic and flattering to ensure she was comfortable on the day. 

With this in mind SANT ELIA Creative Director, Stephanie, set to design the perfect couture look for our muse. She conceptualised a floor length fitted gown, featuring our signature v-neck bodice with internal boning and structure for bust support and high leg split, complementing our muses natural shape. 

The gown featured an all over tulle lace with floral and linear embroidery to emulate cherry blossoms in full bloom. It was later brought to our attention that Lauren’s now husband proposed under a cherry blossom tree - so sweet! We created an organic blossom stem aesthetic by hand appliquéing stands of pearls across the gown's bust and hips.

To give our muse the ultimate bridal moment, we finished Lauren’s bespoke couture design with a silk satin and organza a-line overskirt, also featuring a thigh high split with hand appliquéd lace motifs. 

As you will see in the below interview with our muse and Stephanie, Lauren’s couture look was consciously designed to ensure our bride felt comfortable on her whole day, from walking down the aisle, to holding her daughter and walking through forest plains to get the perfect sunset portrait. 

STEPHANIE: What inspired you to create your couture gown with SANT ELIA?

LAUREN: With COVID last year, I was feeling super uninspired about planning my wedding but I drove past the studio and I felt like I really connected with the designs in the front window. 

After my first meeting with you, I felt like we were bouncing ideas back and forth, I just felt so understood and excited to work with you. I actually didn't call anybody else because I knew my search was over and I found the perfect designer to create my couture gown. 

I felt as though you understood exactly what I wanted and I think that was the most important part of the selection process for me.

: I remember you looked really beautiful in the samples we tried even though not long before you had just had your baby. It was so nice to see, you were almost relieved. It was like you had this moment and you saw yourself and how great you actually looked. 

LAUREN: When we actually met, my little girl was only six months old, so I was still going through all these changes with my body and I didn’t know what I wanted my dress to look like. But in saying that it was really important to me that it fit. Honestly, I never thought I would end up with the dress that I did. 

I walked in with an idea of a loose fitting dress and I was so surprised with where we ended up with the fitted silhouette. And once I saw your sketch, I knew that was what I wanted. 

STEPHANIE: I put a sample bodice on you that had a deeper plunge at the front and I know you were a little unsure at first because it appeared to be quite revealing. But we both agreed, it actually minimised what you were trying to cover instead of slapping on all this fabric on you. 

It was really nice to change your perspective on what a bride who has had a baby should look like. I myself have had a baby and I know how you felt at the time but you embraced your new body and you looked stunning. 

STEPHANIE: What was your favourite part of the couture journey?

LAUREN: Definitely seeing the dress come to life. I loved that we could make minor adjustments along the way as nothing was set in absolute stone in the early design conceptualisation stage. You were able to test different ideas and see how it would progress and I enjoyed that collaborative component. 

Choosing my lace was also really fun. When I arrived for my fabric selection appointment and saw all the different styles you had curated for me to select from, I thought “there’s no way I am going to be able to pick one” but you helped me be super decisive.

STEPHANIE: What I loved about your lace in particular, we did a modern take on our signature 3D floral and it wasn’t super heavy or girly. It was quite elevated. 
For me, it is just about finding the synergy between my bride and her aesthetic. For example, for your personality and style, I knew you needed something that was a contemporary spin on a classic romantic vibe and I felt we found that spot.  
LAUREN: Definitely. I mean, the romantic look was definitely what I was going for. It actually wasn't until, my mother-in-law saw the dress, and said to me, “you've chosen a lace that almost has cherry blossoms on it”. And it was so special as my husband and I got engaged under a cherry blossom tree. Like, it was just kind of crazy how your mind does that. 
STEPHANIE: That's the essence of what I try to do. It's just having that personalization and those little meanings that makes my work so fulfilling because I can never get bored when you've got inspiration like that. 
What advice would you give to other brides when choosing a couture gown?

LAUREN: I would definitely say, have a designer that's on the same page as you like. That was the most important thing for me. This is your big day. You want to feel the most comfortable and most beautiful you have ever felt. You want to hear that your ideas are being listened to, and you know, that's exactly what happened during our first meeting.

Also, be open about your ideas, I was never closed off to anything you might suggest because you knew what you were doing. I trusted in that and I felt like that in the end it led us down the right journey.

STEPHANIE: When you talk about couture, it’s not just about the garment, it’s about the relationship and the process as well.  Couture is not really just the product at the end, it encompasses the whole journey one takes to get to it. 

If you have trust and there's that mutual respect and understanding for each other, the end product is just so much more elevated beyond the original idea because we are able to be fluid and bounce ideas off each other. And I think we really did that, your dress was a showstopper and you looked absolutely amazing. 

STEPHANIE: We created two Bambini by SANT ELIA flower girl dresses for you and it was so amazing to have your daughter and god daughter a part of the journey. Why did you choose Bambini by SANT ELIA to create your, flower girl dresses?

LAUREN: Well the girls are really young so again, fit was super important. I also wanted them to feel super special on the day and I knew that you'd be able to create pieces they would feel amazing in. 

You know, my daughter, she's obviously too young to remember it, but my goddaughter, she thrived in the experience, she was twirling around all day. And for my daughter, we will be able to look back at photos and she will see that she had a dress like her mummy, it's a real sentimental moment to me. 

STEPHANIE: Yes, we had elements incorporated into the dresses for the girls that emulated your own; the same lace and a similar silhouette with your overskirt. I loved that we added those cute puffy sleeves, it made their look so young and fresh. And seeing you with your daughter, Poppy, was just so special to me, especially as a mother. I loved the images of you on the day holding her and whilst you still looked like yourselves. 

LAUREN: I think you did such an amazing job and it gave us that moment where our dresses were so connected, but also perfect for the little girls to wear. 

STEPHANIE: What's your most cherished memory from your wedding?

LAUREN: There are a few - I felt like my husband and I really just gravitated to each other on the dance floor. Like wherever we would start off dancing with friends and family, we just found each other on the dancefloor, which was just so sweet. And having the love and support of all our family and friends in that room, it was such a high.

My fondest moment was just after we took our photos on top of this mountain with our bridal party and we just stopped and had a glass of champagne and took in the moment. It was so nice just to slow down and people watch our guests having their canapes and the marquee, it was honestly so nice.

STEPHANIE: I do think that is so important for couples to think about on the day. Just taking a moment, that just allows you to soak it all in. Otherwise you get caught up in all the planning and running to time. There has to be that moment where you can just sit and say, ‘wow we did it, we are here’ and pop some champagne or do something where you just mark that moment because the day does go so fast. 

LAUREN: So fast! It’s like one minute you arrive at the reception and the next you are on the dance floor and it’s about to end, you just never want it to end. 

STEPHANIE: Yes, the time flies but you have the rest of your marriage and lifetime to keep those celebrations going, which is just so incredible. 

STEPHANIE: Before we finish up, do you have any last comments for our us? 

LAUREN: I think that the way I felt in my dress really set the whole day up for success. And I just want to thank you for making the dress of my dreams, it was insane, I loved it.

STEPHANIE: You were an amazing bride and so easy to work with and always so kind. Even your family, your sisters, your mom, it was always a pleasure to have you in the shop and of course watching poppy grow. 

LAUREN: It is so funny, when we met she could hardly sit up and we weren’t even sure if she was going to make it down the aisle, but you really watched her grow into a toddler who walked and talked. You really welcomed my family with open arms into the studio and made sure you took on their opinions and their feelings to make them feel like they were part of the journey too - so thank you. 

STEPHANIE: You are so welcome, that’s what we always want to do at SANT ELIA. 

We thank SANT ELIA couture bride Lauren for joining our Muse Series. Not only are we so appreciative of the opportunity to create her dream gown and flower girl dresses, but honoured to bear to witness such a beautiful journey. 

To become a SANT ELIA bridal muse and enquire about our custom couture service, please click here

Bridal couture gown, overskirt and flowergirl dresses @santelia_sydney 
Photographer @chloepaulphoto
Marquee @katalanetents
Styling & Florals @george_and_smee

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