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Rossetti Costumes & Bridal Gowns - FAQ

rossetticouture@gmail.com
 
www.alternativebridalgowns.co.uk
www.rossetticouture.com

01945 773763

Please see the Tutu FAQ for tutu enquiries.

 
Where are you?
This link Finding us will take you to an explanatory page.

Are your gowns made-to-measure, couture, or ready-made? I don't understand the difference!
Yes, it can seem complicated - especially when everyone uses these terms differently! I am a couture designer/ dressmaker. A "couturier" and "costumier". I make gowns to fit you, to your own individual measurements and requirements. I make a toile (mock up), fit it to you, then cut an individual pattern for each client. To some people, especially the ambitious self-taught dressmaker, offering a 'couture' service simply means a highly priced dress and will not give any indication of an exacting knowledge of real couture techniques! Or the term will be added to what are in actual fact factory-made gowns where the makers never meet the client or have the responsibility for an entire gown.

In between these extremes are the small design studios of well-known "names" in the bridal world (in my experience, often to be found in the basement below the showroom!), staffed with dedicated roles for pattern cutter, assistant makers/ machinists and hand finishers. Been there; done that! The staff are supplied with sketches and measurements, rarely meet the brides, and never have the satisfaction of seeing the finished gown on the client. This is classed as couture, but the irony is, the better known the designer, the less likely the actual makers are to meet the client for face-to-face "hands-on" fittings. Their cutting relies on provided measurements and has to be accurate. Conversely, in the (professional) theatre world, it is accepted that no matter how famous the dancer or actor may be in the world of ballet, film, theatre or television, they do need to actually be handled directly by the pattern/ cutter maker of their costume (in collusion with the designer). Inevitably, the performer can then make direct requests to the maker who is appreciated as a skilled craftsperson - actually leading to a far more realistically "couture" service. From my experience of both these worlds, I hope I am able to combine the best aspects. In a studio, fashion house or production wardrobe, making gowns and costumes is a collaboration between many people. I love and understand this world, and intermittently return to it. Under the "Rossetti" label I am taking full responsibility myself for your order, I have total control in my position as designer, cutter, maker and finisher. I hope this assures you that I can translate your ideas and dreams into a reality.

The world of men's tailoring uses these terms differently, so don't be thrown if your fiancé is ordering a 'bespoke' suit. This is as good as it gets - cut and made to his measurements. 'Made to measure' in tailoring means taking a pre-existing pattern and adjusting it to fit the groom. For a wedding dress this is the major part of a couture service- 'made-to measure' means taking around twenty to forty measurements to cut a fresh pattern to fit each individual bride. (This is commonly what Americans refer to as bespoke!!!) Literally, 'couture' is defined as "high fashion design and dressmaking", but it has come to represent a particular quality of cut, fabrics, decoration and standard of workmanship - and an inevitable cost for that work. I supply the highest quality of couture work - including at times such detailing as embroidering over hooks and bars to hide the metal and match the fabric, or covering press-studs with chiffon, but this is an extreme. As long as I meet you a minimum of once and ideally three times, I can promise a well-cut and finished gown. The only difference in finish between my period/ theatre costumes and wedding gowns is that the bodices of the costumes do not have additional linings next to the body. This makes the seams accessible for changes of dancer/ actress. Wedding outfits are fully lined throughout.

Can I change details of designs shown on the web site for my own wedding dress or ballet costume?
By all means - the designs shown are representative of what is possible, and to give an idea of relative costs.  Details like colour, fabric, sleeve length, intensity of decoration can all be varied at the client’s request.

Can I have an exact copy of any design shown in every detail?
Usually!  However be warned that occasionally trimmings - lace and braids - are discontinued and, very rarely, certain fabrics.   An alternative to the original, or a very similar item can usually be found.  I often source unique antique decoration - buttons, lace, fabric flowers which are inevitably suited to exclusive one-off designs.

Do you have (for example) "the Mediaeval gown in a size 16?"
Most Rossetti gowns are made-to-measure to order to fit the customer's individual measurements. Studio samples are held in varying sizes to view/ try on. I'm afraid not every design is available in every size. Currently, studio samples are mainly in size 10/12 (the size of a classic display stand), but we are gradually increasing the samples available in sizes 14, 16 and 18+. Ex-sample gowns are shown in the sample sale category. These gowns are at drastically reduced prices and sometimes have never been tried on. A Ready-to-Wear collection of very special unique one-off gowns in defined sizes (bust, waist, hip etc.) can be found on this site now - please consult the menu bar on the left or use the link on the home page.

Can you make a gown from my own sketch?
Yes - I was originally trained in "Design Interpretation" - the skill of evolving a two dimensional design source into a three dimensional creation. In the theatre this means working as a maker, liaising between the designer and the director. A costume maker works FOR the designer who answers to the director. I worked with a variety of well established designers in the film and theatre world. They varied greatly in their ability to put their designs on paper in a readable manner. Some designers provided a clear and clinical view of the required costume, together with source material if it was a period costume. Others - particularly the ballet designers - gave more of a "sense" of the image in their head on paper - the colour and overall effect, but no specifics as to shape. Some designers only really clarified what they wished for after several prototypes had been constructed. Sometimes a costume was lost at the last minute during a dress rehearsal - no longer needed...

The position is quite different working as a bridalwear designer/maker - I have free rein to invent and follow my inspirations. You may like them and wish for a copy, or a variation. Or you might not see what you are looking for, yet have the feeling from what you have seen of my work that I could provide it. This is what I call a "blank canvas" commission. I will invent a fresh design in close communication with you. I am as happy to give you my designs as to work with yours - or to combine both.  I will never need a perfectly finished  design drawing to explain what you are looking for- just a sketch which hints at what you want - this will be clarified in later discussion and I usually provide you with design sketches of my own to enure we are on the same track.  Anything you provide as reference material wil be helpful, from referencing costumes in films such as "Marie Antoinette", "Elizabeth", "Moulin Rouge" or "Dangerous Liaisons", to original costume drawings you may have or cuttings from modern bridal wear magazines. Please note I will not make copies of other designer's work, however a "storyboard" of your own tastes (likes and dislikes!) in shape and colour can be extremely useful to understand the effect you are after.

The main issue with following your design, is your willingness to maintain a dialogue; especially during the weeks which are allocated to your order. I will ask for a contractual agreement to be signed to the effect that you will willing to be contacted during the specified construction period which is for you alone. If you are not available I will not be able to commit to the gown being completed on time, or will have to follow my own initiative. Equally, I have to ask you to understand that I might not be available instantly for lengthy design talks outside your construction times because I will probably be working on a different order. However, I will always get back to you when it is convenient and will always answers emails concerning design detail at length!

I am aware that some designers will only construct their own designs - it is a shame they are so closed to other people's ideas. However, it means changing role from designer to purely maker - perhaps this does not appeal to some? They are entirely missing the challenge and enjoyment of working with a two-dimensional "dream-on-paper". The skill to translate the client's (possibly not fully formed) wishes takes a degree of close communication and usually many emails, swatches and sketches. Choosing the fabrics and trims, achieving the cut, experimenting with prototypes, finding the best foundation hoops, panniers, petticoats or corsets, all to establish in reality what is in the client's head is a challenge quite different to just following my own design ideas. However, nothing is better than seeing a bride at her final fitting stunned at the vision in the mirror. A speechless bride with tears in her eyes is all I need!

(NB Please refer to Designer's Notes, below, for more on having your own design developed.)

Do you make bridesmaids?
Occasionally and mainly for adults.  Some styles of gown, such as the "Mediaeval" shape, and at the other extreme, an 18th century shape (without sleeves), lend themselves to simplification for bridesmaids while remaining in keeping with the bride’s own gown.

Do you make groom’s outfits?
Very rarely.  I specialise in ladies costume and dress, but my early training included men’s costume. I have been known to attire the occasional Mediaeval Knight or "Oberon", the King of the Fairies!  I can order fabric for groomsmen or bridesmaids for an alternative maker to work with.

Are you a trained dressmaker?
Difficult! I am, technically, a couturier, a costumier and a designer. I trained on a course designed to provide professional and expert costume makers for television (mainly BBC), films (mainly period costume movies), West End productions: ballet, opera, musicals ("Phantom", "Starlight Express", "Les Misérables", etc, and plays (RSC, The Globe, The National). We learned to cut patterns to fit individual actors/ dancers and to construct period costume for most eras from initial design through to the completed costume (see "Experience File" category on menu for more detail).  The training was of the highest standards, suitable for productions by top ballet, opera, television and film companies.  I later worked with couture bridalwear designers, learning additional skills of cut and finish.  None of this can be referred to as "dressmaking".  A typical couture bridal gown’s bodice will have a minimum of six layers of fabrics, including specialist interlining’s and boning to create the required shape.  Brides are often amazed to find they have a waistline! This would not be achieved by "dressmaking".

On a couple of occasions, visiting clients have expressed surprise at the quality of workmanship and clean finish. I fear there might occasionally be a misconception that a fifty percent theatre-based career would lead to less than the very best of workmanship in my wedding gowns. On the contrary, world class quality costumes are demanded for world class film, and theatre productions. (When I made a costume for a well-known actress at the RSC the stunning duchesse satin was shipped in from Italy and the actress was so pleased with the costume she arranged to purchase it to wear to a BAFTA awards ceremony).

All wedding gowns have silk lined bodices as a norm. Skirts are all interlined so that seams are almost invisible. Next-to-the-skin linings can also be in silk but most clients request anti-static linings for comfort against tights and stockings. I offer almost invisible hand-stitching and french seams of less than one eighth of an inch in sheer fabrics such as chiffon and georgette. Beading is attached invisibly, yet strongly. (You would not wish several swarovski crystals to cut through a single thread and crash to the floor mid-vows!)

If you have any doubts about the quality of my work, please arrange to view it in person.

You never lose the "need" to work to the highest possible standards: it is an absolute.

Are corsets uncomfortable to wear?
See additional information about eighteenth century corsets attached to the "Patchwork" corset page. (See 'Corsets /Stays' on menu")
Basically, corsets are NOT uncomfortable if properly cut to your measurements, correctly fitted and constructed - see above.

Many of your prices are quoted "plus fabric" on the site. How can I tell how much my wedding dress will cost?
On the whole, I tend to keep construction costs seperate from fabric - this way you can see how a gown's costs will vary according to the fabric you choose. I can usually give you a reasonable idea of possible fabric costs at the consultation (or even beforehand if you know the specific fabric you would like to be used). I will give you an accurate quote within days of the consultation. I will guide you towards fabrics which will work for the design you are considering, and will definitely say if a fabric is inappropriate and will not work. I can also offer you additional fabric at trade prices (two thirds off retail) for your bridesmaids, groom's waistcoat and cravattes etc. See also Costing Process under Design Process on the menu.

How long does it take to make a wedding dress/ period costume?
It really depends if you are asking how long it takes to actually construct a dress/costume, or how long it takes to design, fit and construct a commission. If made non-stop, a basic (undecorated) gown, based on an existing Rossetti design, will take about four to six days of working un-interrupted eight hour days. A more complicated order with foundation petticoats and hoops, decoration or intricate detailing, will take up to two to three weeks. Quantities of beading or hand embroidery lengthen construction times. No design shown on the site has taken more than two weeks to construct, but may have taken months to design. It is something of an urban myth that a wedding gown should take months and months to complete; perhaps this idea has arisen from the tradition of gowns being made by the bride herself, or by a self-taught friend or relative who constructs the dress intermittently, alongside a day job. (Or by shop-made gowns which may take months to order in). I love to totally immerse myself in an order,coming up for air at the end of the day to find the sun has set and the dog needs a walk! However, in real life I need to see you, the client, for fittings,consultations, email discussions; I will send you swatches and photos and await decisions from you. This can all lengthen the process.

It is always a wonderful compliment when clients order the same design over and over, with no variation from the original, but this can lead to my slowing down! (Not to the detriment of the workmanship, I promise! ) With new designs or fresh treatments of old ones, I am all fired up and impatient to see the end result! I become absorbed, the order takes all priority, and the dog gets fat! When I worked for several couture designers in central London while gathering experience, and often on repeated popular designs, it was recorded how many orders you completed in a season: you had no option but to speed up techniques without lowering standards. The worry was that there would always be someone faster and more proficient waiting to step into your shoes!

Some designers/dressmakers say they will devote many weeks or months to your gown and then charge accordingly! Perhaps, if they have never worked in the professional world of fashion, theatre, or film, they have never had to achieve the speed of a maker in the real world (jobs in the top fashion houses and major theate companies are highly coveted and there is much competition. A slow worker is unlikely to mantain their position for long). A designer/ dressmaker who insists on more than four fittings is probably rather unsure about their work and consequently needs to have you back to check on a regular basis. If you are measured properly at the beginning by the person who is going to cut your order, it should not be necessary to repeatedly check the fit. Your availability for fittings really dictates how long your order takes: there might be a six month gap between each fitting and an order might consequently be spread over eighteen months or more.  Nine months notice is about ideal for an order to be  fitted in to my schedule, but always ask because this is not an absolute.

How long does it take to make a tutu?
Three days for a basic undecorated one. (See Tutu FAQ).

Can you ship gowns and costumes overseas?
I now only ship wedding gowns within the UK. It is usually preferable to combine a collection with a final fitting. On occasion, overseas clients - from Ireland, Scotland, Jersey, Holland and Canada have managed to fly into Stansted airport, which is not too far away. Their order has been constructed from toile to completion within the duration of their holiday. Two weeks would usually be sufficient! This kind of arrangement is dependant on a lot of open discussion and brainstorming by e-mail and telephone in advance of the first meeting.

Can I have a tutu in any colour?
There are about forty or more colours available in stiff tutu net and many more if you are requiring a costume in softer net. (White net is very popular because a basic white tutu can be put to many uses by changing the bodice and skirt decoration. It can be the basis for an "Odette", "Sugar Plum Fairy", "Snow Queen", "Cinderella" or "Aurora". See Tutu FAQ).

Can I cancel a consultation appointment with less than two hours notice and then expect to visit again later?
If over the telephone, directly to me, then yes, if there is room in both of our diaries. If by email (never guaranteed to arrive), then no: sorry. I would be grateful if you actually speak to me to cancel, especially with less than 24 hours notice. I realise you cannot plan for all eventualities - cars break down, endless traffic jams occur, trains are cancelled. Just keep me updated!

Can I bring my best friend/ fiancé/ mother/ bridesmaids to the fitting?
In my experience it is always preferable to come alone to the initial design consultation. I can get a clearer idea of exactly what you would like if I am dealing purely with your own wishes on a one-to-one basis. More than your own opinion in the room can lead to lengthy complications design-wise and sometimes achieve nothing. If you do wish to bring a Mother, Mother-in-Law, or one friend, please give them some advance warning about my work and your plans! If your mother envisaged you in virginal white and your dream dress is vibrant turquoise, complications can ensue...! You are welcome to bring additional people to later fittings and it makes more sense for them to visit later, than for them to attend the initial consultation.

If I am meeting you in Norfolk, this is my home as well as my studio. It is not a shop. I would be grateful if any number of visitors beyond the bride herself is pre-arranged with myself prior to the fitting date. It is taken forgranted that young dancers will be accompanied by a parent.

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Designer's Notes

Prices quoted for made-to-measure couture gowns relate to one to four appointments. Depending on where you are travelling from to meet me, this might be several short appointments of equal length - around one and a half hours - or one lengthy initial consultation (maximum three hours), combined with toile fitting, followed by one or two short fittings (forty minute-ish). These arrangements are variable for your convenience: how much you enjoy travelling(!) and how close you are to my base at that time. If you should wish to have four to (absolutely maximum) six appointments, each appointment, from fourth to sixth, will be an additional £1000. The only likely reason for so many appointments would be due to sudden weight loss or late requested design changes. My level of experience means I do not need to trouble you to visit six times. More than three visits is rarely necessary, but if you wish to do this I am more than happy to pre-plan it into my diary. Your order will, inevitably, cost more than the web-site quoted charges.

When I first made my work available as a portfolio on the internet, I was frequently paid the compliment of brides requesting a particular established Rossetti design with no variation except, perhaps, the colour of the silk. The satisfaction of discovering that my (slightly alternative) ideas were appreciated by people was incredible! In some ways it proved less than a challenge because all the design work had been done, and all I had to do was construct a perfectly fitting gown. As the years have gone on, I am more and more frequently asked if I will follow a bride's own design ideas because nothing on the site is "quite right". It can be a slightly odd request - not because I'm unbearably egotistical! - but because I find it difficult to believe that absolutely nothing on this entire web-site (a neckline here, a skirt shape there) might come close to what a bride might be looking for. I know I have major gaps - the many "Jane Austen" period gowns I have made over the years are not shown because few brides seem interested in that period. Nor are the kind of unembellished, simple, modern gowns (which I made until I climbed the walls in the mid '90's!) shown. They do not really interest me. With sufficient investigation it often turns out that the site does include something comparable to what is in the client's imagination - a bodice shape on that design, the fabric from that style. I am happy to mix and match, to achieve the perfect design for you. I have constructed many different shapes and styles in years gone by, when I was working for various couture designers: period riding jackets, empire-line gowns and 1920's flapper-style beaded dresses, for instance, long before we even dreamed of the internet! Please ask if you are looking for something in particular, because I might have photos available even if such things are not included on the site.

Some clients are extemely good at collecting their ideas and connecting these to some piece of work I have done in the past. They produce informative mood boards, they pick and choose from my advice and they are adept at making their minds up about what they want. These clients are lovely to work with and are very happy with their gowns! I would recommend making "moodbards" to everyone (see Design Process and Design Sources on the menu). If you often look through magazines (wedding/ interiors/ fashion) for inspiration, turn the browsing into tearing. Add glue and "googled" images and anything that appeals. It is the perfect way to figure what appeals to you - even if it does not show your perfect gown/ flowers/ wedding cake, it will give direction to me, at the very least, regarding shapes, texture and colours, that you are drawn to. I have even known clients to make "yuck" boards - detailing everything they don't like! Please note that I will not make copies of other designer's work. Please don't ask me to.

If you have been gradually developing wedding gown ideas of your own over the preceeding months, the consultation, when I first meet you, is a time for consolidation of ideas. If you are having a reproduction of an existing Rossetti sample, it is a chance to see the actual gown you have only seen in photos; to try it on if the size is appropriate and to look through all fabric and trim alternatives. Generally to fine-tune what you want for your wedding gown. Sometimes, clients quite honestly admit they don't know what they want, which I don't mind at all. After a couple of hours of trying on different shapes of corsets, skirts and gowns, we soon discover which shapes will potentially work. Then it is usually a case of looking through fabrics and this will often put the seal on the design. I find it can often be helpful to limit options to around three styles at this stage - I will send sketches, a short-list of swatches, and quotes after the consultation to consider at your leisure.

It is not always possible to design to order, instantly. Most of the gown samples shown on this site have been a LONG time in the planning. They often began life as a heavenly fabric I fell for and simply had to have a length....They may have started as 4.00am inspirations, but I am rarely in a position to follow through with actually constructing a design idea immediately (work, clients, husband, dog...!) Months and even years, musing over the design, collecting complementary fabrics and trims - gathering and culling, experimenting, sketching with no pressure other than following my own enthusiasms, I'm sure these sample gowns are the better for it. The years of "brewing" are inevitable - I will always have more fresh ideas I wish to work on than the available time, so it can take YEARS before a gown escapes from my sketchbooks and notepads into reality. You may love to tell your guests that you designed your own dress, and I purely constructed, but unless you are really inspired, don't force it. Untill, of course, you are repeatedly woken in the early hours with the perfect gown in your head..!

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"Just wanted to say a HHHHUUUUGGGGGEEEEE thank you for my AMAZING dress! It's better than I could ever have imagined!" Claire

"The wedding went really well. I was told by numerous people that my dress was the most amazing wedding dress that they had ever seen, and I tend to agree ;) So thanks again!...Thanks again, and who knows, maybe I will get the chance to have another fabulous dress made sometime in the future". Wendy H.

"Through all my wedding dress research I just keep coming back to you! I absolutely adore your work." Alison F.

"I wanted to tell you how stunned I was by your designs. In trying to list a favorite example for you, I realized I couldn't single out one or two - I have FOUR favorites!...Thank you for bringing beauty and style back to the otherwise boring world of wedding gowns." Susan E.

"Hello from across the pond in Canada! I came across your site and the beautiful gowns pictured almost took my breath away. There is such meticulous attention to detail that your gowns are a work of art in and of themselves."Miriel D.WOW !

"Your tutus, costumes and gowns are absolutely fabulous.... I'm sure you have heard this time and time again, but WOW ! You are a true master. Beautiful absolutely beautiful. Your web page is truly inspirational." Joaney B.

"... was delighted at seeing samples of your designs. I LOVE the way you use colors, textures and fabrics. Simply delightful! Just what I¹m looking for...not the boring same old, same old stuff I have been seeing for so long. At last, something refreshing!" Robin O.

"I will never forget how superb I felt in the pink 'indira' design!" Martha C.

"The day went brilliantly and people were genuinely in awe of the dress – I’ve never received so many compliments! I really can’t thank you enough for all your hard work...Once again many thanks for all your help, it really did make my day having so many really amazing compliments about the dress – it even bought tears to my Dad’s eyes and I’ve not seen that in years!" Karen O.

"Thanks for all your inspiration at the fitting, I can't wait to see it finished!!!" Clare L.

"Our wedding was this last weekend - just had to let you know, the dress absolutely wowed the Italians - it looked just gorgeous!! I can't remember how many comments I got on it (most asking which Italian designer had designed it! :)) but it really was perfect! There are a lot of photos of the dress actually - people couldnt get over the style of it, or the color, or the material, etc etc - just blew them away!" Jane G.

"Thank-you for the wonderful dress that has brought my friends and I so much joy already! Everyone who has so far seen it has been suitably impressed and those who I have described it to are itching with excitement to see it!...You made a beautiful work of it and I hope you continue creating even more elaborate creations in the future! " Anna L.

"I just wanted to let you know it looked fabulous & everybody said they loved it". Yvonne H.

"Thanks again! you make a very good agony aunt too!" Victoria

"What absolutely stunning costumes you have made, they really are very beautiful." Elizabeth

"I really was not expecting the reaction of the men. I had to fight them off! I would like to thank you for an amazing different dress that just wowed everybody. It was worth the trips down." Angela F.

"wow..i cryed and jumped like a little exiting child (hihi) when i saw your weddingcostumes..i love them all". Marojke L.

"....absolutely stunned by your Pre Raphaelite influenced wedding dresses! Particularly the Accolade and Raffaela." Judith

"I've been searching for ages for a Custom designer to make my fairytale wedding dress and happened to come across your site. My eyes started filling up when on more than one pic I saw something that I would love to wear." Kerri

"Absolutely fabulous! sheer artistry ...well done!" Deborah T.

"Then, I stumbled upon your website and it was a real breath of fresh air. The dresses and costumes are stunning with innovative design and a real sense of history and beauty to them." Louise F.

"I love all of your gowns. The craftsmanship is exquisite, and I have never seen such quality dresses that are sewn to be historically accurate (with creative license)." Amanda W.

"Your work is the most amazing work sold online I have seen yet to date. You have beautiful color selections and you have been impecibly trained. I hate to see that someone said you were pricey." Shannah G.

"Many thanks for creating such a lovely dress, I have really enjoyed the process as well. I hope to have some good photographs from the ball to share with you when we return.

"The wedding was awesome, the dress went down an absolute treat, I loved it, he loved it in fact everyone loved it!...Thankyou very much for making the usual trauma of outfit hunting so pleasant!" Victoria A.

"Your dresses are absolutely gorgeous. I've never seen such a good quality of hand craftmanship short of costume designer of major budget movies ;)...Christina G.

"Thank you for my beautiful dress, I am so lucky to have found your web-site. I still cannot actually believe that I have my own handmade gown! It really is the stuff dreams are made of."

"..if you ever need a reference or testimonial I would be very happy to oblige - although I think the website itself is testimony to the quality of your work. Again, many thanks". Wendy

If you would like a referral to any of the photographers showcased on this site, please contact us.

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For any other enquiries
e-mail: theresa@rossetti.vispa.com
Tel/Fax: 01945 773763

 

Based in the United Kingdom