Melanie's individual style shone through as a Sant Elia bride, demonstrating her relaxed nature and flare for an intricate detail. For our muse Melanie, our Creative Director Stephanie designed a gown rich with texture while achieving the bride's vision.
Melanie's gown was a dream of lace paired with an elegant silhouette that featured a high neck bodice and sheer long sleeves with a modest yet beautiful train. The detail was all in the lace, with a nude underbodice, allowing the intricate pattern to shine through.
Her gown featured a diamond cut out back with low buttons that were carried through on the high neckline and delicate scalloped sleeves. The fitted skirt, flaring into a train embodied a graceful and classic style that was perfectly juxtaposed by the modern lace pattern.
We sat down with Melanie at the beginning of 2022 to discuss her experience with our studio, working with our Creative Director and the process of making her dream bridal look a reality.
We could not be more excited to share this interview with you, alongside our favourite images from Melanie's wedding day with you.
What inspired you to have a couture gown created for your day by Sant Elia?
MEL: So I definitely wanted to always create my own gown and be a part of that creative process. And I found you guys on Instagram. So when I was looking for designers and I came across your page and I was really inspired and everything just looked really beautiful, all the brides looked so unique and you felt the type of personality from each one. It looked very, ethereal and really beautiful. So I was quite interested to know how we can work together.
STEPHANIE: I actually distinctly remember you kept telling me, “I just really want something different. I don't want it like everyone else”. And hopefully we captured that for you.
MEL: Definitely. So I did come to you, I did say I wanted something unique. I wanted something really different, but I didn't know how to do that. If you remember I was really indecisive. I kept saying, “I don't know what I want, but this is the vibe that I'm going for” and you did give me some ideas. I gave you my inspiration photos and I think we just evolved from there. I did change my mind a couple of times throughout the process and you were really good in that sense because I wanted a day to night dress and then I wanted a second satin dress. So we went back and forth and you just said to me, “let's just make one beautiful gown, at the end of the day and let's just focus all our energy onto that”. And you did, and it was really unique and all the detailing was the best, to be honest.
What was your favourite part of the couture journey?
MEL: I think the best part was just creating the gown altogether.
STEPHANIE: I think because your process was so disjointed having that really big lockdown all the way through your process, basically. So we started, we chose a lace and then it was like, that's it. You had to be adaptable during your journey and a little bit more practical for some of that, like the fantasy of what your dress process is going to be like went away.
You know, we had to do difficult video consultations and trying to do fittings over zoom. But I think for me, my favourite part of your journey was when you came back in after that whole difficult process, and you were able to finally try on your gown and it looked spectacular. It was like, okay we did this long journey, but here we are, and it's amazing.
MEL: Yeah. Do you know what you're so right. I think it was the process itself. It was just being creative. It was discussing with you what we're doing next or how to go over this obstacle of video consults and designing the dress virtually. And then I think my last appointment was a month before where I tried on the dress or about three weeks before.
I didn't know what to expect because I saw my laces for the first time, I think it was through the video consult, so it was quite difficult to patch together. Obviously I was very confident in you and you did understand the brief. I think in myself, I was always still like “oh my God, what's going to happen” still a bit anxious about it and anxious about everything. But to get there in the end and create something so beautiful, I think the best part of it was the creative process.
STEPHANIE: I think seeing your vision finally come to life, especially as we started the process with a feel not a gown, we had a feel we wanted to create. So getting through that whole journey and then trying it on and you actually felt that feeling. That was so beautiful.
MEL: Yeah. You're so right, because I didn't come to you with this is what I want, I said “Steph, I really want something different. And I really want to achieve it with you. I don't know what I want, but let's do it”.
What are the three most important things to consider when choosing a couture gown or undertaking this process?
MEL: The biggest one was someone to trust to make all those decisions for me. Understanding the vision and the brief, because I pretty much came in with a desired vision and not a specific gown that I wanted. I really needed someone that would hit the nail with the brief. And confidence, so the one thing that I loved about you was your confidence. In certain situations where I was really conflicted. You would always just say, “no Mel, I think you should do this and we're going to do this, and this is how it's going go”. So all three would be trust, confidence and understanding the vision.
STEPHANIE: I think that, for any bride, especially going through such a tough time, I think I start to assume a role more like your coach than designer. I never try to railroad my brides into a certain decision because I never want you to feel like you're not being heard that sometimes you need someone to reign it in and give you some perspective and be like “hey, look in the mirror, look at yourself” or “look at the actual lace we've chosen and commit”, because sort of wandering around being lost is not going to get us there. But the great thing is when you have trust and your designer has a vision that aligns with yours and you have a synergy and a good relationship. It's always going to be extra challenging when you're doing things over the phone or over a video like this. So you did a really good job. It was crazy, but it was great.
MEL: Do you remember the, the fabric incident where we had that mishap that happened. We got a shipment, more of one fabric than the other, and the other one was sold out. So we had to adapt and you came to me with a whole variety of fabrics for me to choose from.
So I think just having that confidence and knowing that you will deliver that for me, was super important. And in the end we actually received a better fabric than the initial one that we chose. I was over the moon because that second lace that we chose just made the gown.
STEPHANIE: The suppliers especially during the middle of last year when we were in those hard lockdowns, getting things from Europe was impossible and they were so understaffed. Then we're just like “oh well”, and I thought “great, now I have metres and metres of a really heavy lace that I only want to use as an accent, and I don't have the main lace”. But again, your flexibility and your trusting me, I think in turn resulted in a better gown than we had even imagined.
How did your bridal vision evolve over the planning journey?
MEL: So, talking about the gown, when I first came to you, I didn't know what I wanted. I initially thought I would love a day/ night gown where I would have long sleeves during the day and then detachable sleeves. So that was your initial sketch. And then I would email you and say, “Steph, I want a second dress for the evening, potentially something completely different to the lace and have a satin dress”. And then we focused all our energy to having the one beautiful gown and putting all our effort into that. But of course the journey was different itself, just being a COVID bride, you know, having to postpone and having to adapt, doing all the zoom fittings, zoom consultations towards the end, and trying my dress on three to four weeks before my wedding, not knowing what the lace actually look like, because I saw it for the first time via videos. So it was interesting, I would like to think I was a little bit more chill about it, to be honest.
STEPHANIE: I think that what happened with COVID it kind of influenced your decision as well because in the end, would it have made sense to have two dresses for your reception?
You only had a party where you had all your guests. You eloped in lockdown and you managed to get a ready to wear dress and have that satin moment. So it all kind of aligned in the end.
MEL: That is so true, I have two dresses now.
STEPHANIE: And it made sense, you know. The time of year changed, like so many things were different, so the dress had to evolve, there was no choice for it not to.
What was your most cherished memory from your wedding day?
MEL: So, I'm not the emotional type, but we eloped beforehand and [on the day] I got ready at the hotel, my husband got ready at home. And it was quite a different experience because we had a first look, which we weren't expecting to do, and obviously plans changed with COVID and he came to the hotel. We already had the bride and groom moment, but I never saw him as a groom and he never saw me as a proper bride. So when I saw him for the first time and seeing each other, it just got so emotional and I cried. I never cried throughout the entire journey. Not during postponement, not during any other event.
I just cried because it was finally that moment and he got to see me as a bride and I got to see him as my husband for the first time. I mean, not for the first time, but you know, that was the best moment for sure.
STEPHANIE: What was his reaction to your dress?
MEL: He was really excited. And I was really nervous, I don't get too nervous, but I was so nervous. And then I think all that emotion just builds up and just having that first look, which we weren't going to do in the beginning. It was really overwhelming and I think it was just a mixture of being overwhelmed and wow.
STEPHANIE: I mean, it wasn't a regular dress. I mean, he knows you and you're not a straightforward, same as everyone else kind of girl. I've known you for a little while, by coming to your appointments and you have your own style. You've got a really amazing personality. He probably wasn't expecting just like any other dress, but your dress is hard to describe like that kind of lace and how bold the pattern is and it's covered up, but so sexy at the same time. Like it must have been quite breathtaking for him.
MEL: Well, I remember you using this word, elevated Bohemian. I still wanted something quite classic, but something that was still modern at the same time. So to tie those two elements together is not easy. And I think the way we did that was having that elevated Bohemian look with the two laces, and then the classic silhouette was just the dress itself and the shape, [the] diamond back. I think that was the most beautiful part about the dress, it’s European, it’s elevated Bohemian, it's modern, but it's still classic.
STEPHANIE: My favourite part would have been your sleeves. It was so romantic how the scalloping went over your knuckles and just exposed your beautiful ring and your ring is so unique being green. It just really told me everything, just that little part of the dress, told me everything about what you were saying [in] those elements.
MEL: I remember just being quite strict on one aspect of the dress, and I really wanted that scalloping. And you did achieve that so beautifully. The scalloping on the hands with the lace and at the back, the back was so unique and the neckline was extremely beautiful because it wasn't just a straight neck line, it was round with the lace and it was soft and beautiful and with the buttons in the back. The train itself was to die for because it wasn't just a straight round train, the lace finish on the end. So, to be honest I've never seen a dress like this here in Sydney, and I'm so glad that I did this with you!
Do you have any comments or feedback for us at Sant Elia?
MEL: I don't have any feedback, but I did have a better experience than what I imagined only because I was slow, not sure about what I wanted and how to achieve this, but because you were so confident and you understood the brief and the design that we went through. During the process, all the obstacles that we went through I still think you made it really easy for me. And it was a dream to work with you to create that gown. I didn't know what I wanted it to look like in the beginning, but we achieved the best version of it.
STEPHANIE: It was just you.
MEL: It really captured me and what I wanted.
STEPHANIE: Well, I can't wait to share your story and your images with everyone because I think people will be blown away. Thank you so much for giving me your time, I really appreciate it.
We thank SANT ELIA couture bride Melanie for joining our Muse Series. Not only are we so appreciative of the opportunity to create her dream gown, we are also so honoured to be part of such a magical journey.