WHEN it comes to creating a stunning garment for a special occasion, designer Melanie Wesley is no stranger to the intricacies and complexities of the craft.
A self-taught seamstress with 25 years’ experience, Wesley may have made a name for herself in the cutthroat wedding dress industry, but these days it’s her ready-to-wear couture garments that drive her passion.
"For the last couple of years, I have really been focusing on one-of-a-kind wearable art pieces, because they allow me to incorporate all of the techniques I have learned over the years," says Wesley.
"Wearable art can look off-the-wall or overly crafty, but because I have a dress-making background and a love for fashion, I find it really influences my work."
Wesley’s couture garments — dresses, skirts and blouses, predominantly — rely on various sewing techniques, such as hand-stitching, embroidery and patchwork. She incorporates tea-dying and hand-painting into her garments, which contribute to the esthetics of her pieces.
"Even something as tiny as a hand-stitch provides texture and depth to a simple shape, so I really like to focus on the detail and create aspects of embellishment," says the self-professed detail-obsessed designer. Depth and detail take time, patience and skill. For her Grounded dress alone, Wesley estimates anywhere from 80 to 100 hours were spent adding embellishments to create this fantastic piece of wearable art.
She also anticipates her current ready-to-wear work will take a similar amount of time; it’s a unique piece featuring hand-painted motifs that will be cut out and appliquéd to the garment.
"It satisfies the artist in me," explains Wesley. "Many of the fabrics I work with will go through a lot of processes before they are turned into a garment; really, it is wherever the fabric creatively takes me."
Her creativity can really resonate with the fashionistas who desire that extra something special, that standout outfit, that piece of wearable eye candy you just can’t get by shopping off the rack.
And starting a cool $300, Wesley’s designs are affordable for couture pieces you can proudly show off at any holiday soirée.
For more information on Melanie Wesley Designs or to book a consultation with the designer, contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or, as of December, see her online at www.melaniewesley.com
Got a suggestion for a future column or a fashion trend worth following? Email Connie Tamoto at email@example.com