Thursday, September 17, 2009

Designer Spotlight: Lisa Van Hattem

Looking to wear a one of a kind gown for your big day? Something made just for you? Well, you're in luck. Today I'm featuring Lisa Van Hattem as part of my Canadian Designer Spotlight series.

Located in Waterdown, ON, custom bridal designer Lisa Van Hattem works with brides to create their dream dresses. I first heard about Lisa from Alison of A Hot Pink Petticoat. Lisa was kind enough to allow me to 'interview' her right in the thick of the wedding season. Thanks Lisa!

1) How did you get into designing custom bridal gowns?
After going to school for fashion design, I worked as a seamstress for a bridal gown designer. Then I decided to do a wholesale line of gowns that I sold in stores in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It was going well but I missed interacting with the brides. At the same time I had friends and relatives asking me to custom make their wedding gowns. I realized I really enjoyed that side of the business and it snowballed from there.

2) Take us through the process of working with a client on her custom gown. How long should a bride allocate for the process?
I start by doing drawings and showing fabrics, from there I make a pattern and a mock up of the dress. Then I make up the actual gown. It is nice to have 8-12 months for the process. It is a nice time line with no stress. I have made gowns in as little as six weeks providing I have time in my schedule.

Note that this is a sketch of the gown in the photo above
via Lisa Van Hattem

3) Has a bride ever given you free reign over the design over her gown?
Yes, for one of my best friends. She told me to do whatever I wanted. Generally, I do like to get an idea of the bride's personality . I could design a gown that everyone thinks is spectacular on you, but say it has a slit up the front to show your fabulous legs but you HATE your legs (even if it is all in your head), at the end of the day, you will not like it on you. Seeing as I know my friend so well, it was easy to know what she would be happy with. Part of the consultation process is to get inside the bride's mind and get an idea of her own likes and dislikes so she is happy with the finished product.

4) Is there a gown that still stands out in your mind today?
I once made a gown for a bride that was 76 years old. She was so excited to have found love again 25 years after losing her husband. It showed me that happiness and love are ageless. Really, it is the customers that stand out to me in the end.

5) What types of bridal trends are you seeing right now?
I am seeing lots of ruching, which I love. You can do a lot of fitting under the ruching and get an exceptional fit. Lace, especially french laces- Chantilly and Alencon are huge right now. I love lace gowns and working with lace is a specialty of mine. It requires a lot of hand sewing and attention to detail.

6) What other services do you provide?
I do a lot of alterations to bridal gowns purchased elsewhere. I also sell jewelery, purses, headpieces and make custom veils. Crinoline rentals and gown pressing are also available. I can also clean and box gowns.

7) Do you work with brides outside of Toronto?
Yes! I am actually outside Toronto myself. I am in Waterdown which is near Burlington. Most of my brides are in the GTA but I have a lot of girls from Niagara, London and Ottawa. I have had brides as far away as Spain and Ireland.

8) Any advice for brides out there who are overwhelmed with dress shopping?
Of course I would have to suggest they avoid the dress shopping altogether and come see me!

Thanks Lisa! For more information on Lisa's services and products, you can visit her website and her blog. Don't think you have the budget for a custom made gown? Think again! Lisa's custom gowns start at $900.00 including materials and fittings.

I leave you with pictures of one of Lisa's recent creations. Lisa worked with Lauren, aka The Balancing Bride to create this cute, vintage inspired tea-length gown. I love the tulle peeking out from Lauren's dress. Lisa also made Lauren's stunning lace veil. Thank you Lauren for sharing your pictures with us.


BEL said...

OMG! that first dress is INCREDIBLE!

Mo said...

Love the last dress-totally cute!!
Great interview, you need to clone yourself and start researching vendors in San Diego. =)

A Hot Pink Petticoat said...

fantastic interview!

I had my dress cleaned and altered by Lisa after my wedding. When some of my jewels fell off, when I emailed her to provide suggestions on where I can find more jewels, she sent me some at no cost!!

True class act.

Margarita said...

Aww, her dresses are beautiful! I love the first one!

Cody said...

THATS MY AUNT! :D Love you Auntie Lisa!
~ Cody ~

The Professional Bridesmaid said...

@Cody - You are so LUCKY to have Lisa as your aunt! I imagine you have great dresses! :)

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