- 5 years ago
- Wedding: May 2014
I’m at the start of my dress journey, and would love your opinions. I also thought my experience might be useful for any ladies thinking about buying a wedding dress in or from China.
First, let me preface this by saying I do not intend to buy any of the specific dresses in this post. I just want to get a feel for which silhouette is most flattering for me. I’m currently based in Beijing, and my previous experiences with China’s bridal/eveningwear offerings have not been positive ones. There seems to be three main approaches.
1) if it’s white, fluffy and a whole lot of tulle you’re after, this is heaven. Princess puffballs aplenty.
2) Vegas showgirl all the way. A whole lot of sequins, with a 3 metre train of shredded organza.
3) Throw together 50 dresses’ worth of lace, tulle, organza, beading, embroidery and other embellishments and hope for the best.
None of those options are particularly me, so it was with great trepidation that I tagged along with another engaged girlfriend on Sunday to start dress shopping. The places we visited were all made-to-measure, with lead time of between 2-3 months.
What I would LOVE to hear from you ladies is which silhouette you think looks best on me. For reference, my top two most-likely gowns are the Vera Wang Georgina, and the Vera Wang Bouquet. See my original poll post here. What I want to know is: which out of these two VW gowns would you chose? Would you suggest any other particular styles or models? FYI, I am heading to Vera Wang later this month to try on some dresses, but it’s a new store in Shanghai so they may not have those dresses in stock yet. Please bear in mind that I’m about 10 pounds above my ideal weight right now and fully intend to slim down!
We actually inadvertantly went from the least expensive salon to the most expensive. The first salon had gowns between RMB3500-7000 (roughly US$400-$1000). The dresses are apparently all made in Sri Lanka, with imported materials. I tried on three gowns.
The Lace Trumpet/Soft Mermaid (around US$1000)
Prior to trying any dresses on, I’d been tossing up between going for a soft mermaid/trumpet, or a modified a-line/ballgown, both with lace and organza elements. This dress was actually really pretty, it’s Chantilly-esque lace with underlayers that are adorned with tiny sequins. Bit too blinged-out for my taste but it was probably one of the most understated dresses I would see all day! All the materials were lovely and soft. My mother found this style ‘boring’.
The Duchesse Satin A-line (US$800)
This was the only one out of the day’s dresses that my mother vaguely liked, and for the same reason as me – the colour seems really pearlescent (and in fact seems to have the same luminising effect as a string of pearls). On the downside, it’s a more formal and ‘mature’ style I’m going for. Plus the satin is way too heavy for a Bali wedding (even in the formal settings of a fancy hotel). I would probably pass out trying to maneuvre that Princess Diana-worthy train around.
The Fluffy Princess Ballgown
This was such a comfortable gown, and I suspect it’s because of the back corset lacing. Unfortunately, I hate lacing, so that’s out of the question. Very pretty, very standard princess gown. It had a lovely train, very classic.
The Monique Lhuillier ‘Bailey’, China version (US$1250)
This was at the second salon, where I only tried on one dress because the heating was turned up to furnace levels and I was about to pass out. The original gown is here. This version is made from a gauzy kind of organza. It fit really funny around the bust, but I suppose that’s beside the point given all the dresses are made to measure. My mother hated this one, she calls it the ‘Korean mail order bride’ dress.
Column beaded/embroidered English net (US$2900, $1600 for the sample)
And now we move to the third, final and most upscale salon. Prices here start at around US$800 and go up to $7000 + for the last gown I tried. They also had some pretty meticulous replicas of the Duchess of Cambridge’s McQueen gown, and Grace Kelly’s wedding dress. Apparently they do a lot of embellishment/finishing work on gowns for well-known brands. They have a website, but it’s all in Chinese:
This beaded English net dress, I think, was the nicest gown I tried all day. It wasn’t the fanciest, but the detail, fabric, and finish was really fine. I don’t even know what to call this silhouette – column? Anyway, I really like the slightly deeper shade of ivory, it’s very vintage-looking, and the beading is very detailed. Unfortunately the sample was a size too small, so the overall effect was not optimal. I also noticed that the lace and beadwork pattern along the skirt and train look like strawberries. Once I got that in my head, it was hard to take the dress seriously. The designer (who happened to be there) said they can alter and redesign the embroidery and beading pattern.
Structured modified mermaid/trumpet lace
Another trumpet, with more boning than the first one I tried. I liked the silhouette (the sample is one size too big) but I realise that, after looking at so many lace mermaid gowns, I’m starting to get bored by this style…Amazing train though.
The completely OTT beaded/lace/embroidered gown (US$7700, sample $5000)
Just before I was about to get changed, the SA pulled out this one from the back. It’s pretty stunning, literally. It reminds me a lot of the Monique Lhuillier Candy gown, with the vertical tube beading down the bodice. The skirt is layer upon layer of embroidered, beaded lace and tulle. I swear, even by the fifth layer there was still beading going on under there. Great if you want to flash your petticoat to the world! There are also organza rosettes all over the dress.
The sweetheart feels really wide to me, it’s one of those design flaws that I don’t think many established bridal designers in the same price range would make (Vera, Oscar etc). The thing with these gowns (the last three I tried on) is that they all come with matching veils, edged in the same lacework and beading. When the SA plonked the veil that comes with this dress on my head, I literally couldn’t lift up my head. It weighed about 10kg.