Why did you choose to commission a sustainable wedding dress?
The answer to this question really is serendipity. Ever since I decided to get married I was carrying the burden of the dress. I didn't want an overpriced dress that reflected none of my beliefs or the way I generally like to express myself. And thinking about the fact that I will see pictures of this moment for the rest of my life made me even less inclined to spend my savings on a dress that I bought in a store. Not even to mention what I'd read about the culture around wedding dresses, and the fashion industry in general that has me thinking hard before making any buying decision. Nevertheless, I tried; I went online, I checked stores, I considered buying a "pre-owned" dress but I never found anything that quite reflects my style. Eventually, I made a decision that I was going to commission a young designer who will learn from this experience and make me something that really speaks to me. I didn't like that this was just about me, I wanted to benefit someone else.
A few hours after I made the decision, and I'm not even exaggerating, I land at the airport and standing behind in line is Ateev, we talk while we wait and he mentions being a designer, I ask him for advice on where to find young designers who would be happy with an opportunity to practice and get paid, of course. He tells me about why he was in London and about re- and right there and then, I ask him to make my dress. Nothing would have been more perfect, I wanted a story more than a dress, and I got it. I thought, I will help someone grow, and not be involved in underpaid workers making an overpriced dresses, and I get to make the dress I actually want, not what fashion today says looks good. re- provided all this for me and I was incredibly excited to be part of this truly beautiful journey.
What did you family and friends think when you told them the dress was made of recycled fabric?
I had to be a bit tactical with delivering this message. I had support from all my friends, they all said "nothing could be more me" than taking such a risk on my wedding day, and this only made me more excited. Some were skeptic and asking me to send them my measurement so they'd fix their wedding dresses in case anything goes wrong. Which I never did.
My mother was my main concern, I have to say. She kept sending me these photos of lace dresses and telling me to just "for once" do something normally! And I'm like, weddings are when people go all out, why would I choose this moment to play it safe! I did not tell her that, I just told her I found these young designers who can make me the dress I want. I was sending her pictures of the designs and the try-outs which she liked. and then, when I went home and tried the dress for the first time, she cried! There I was in this simple dress, from recycled fabric, trying it for my mother and she tears up, starts touching the fabric and telling me I look so unique and that this is so classy and very much "me"! I smiled and told her, so nonchalantly, "can you imagine! This is made from recycled fabric in a small workshop in India. all this is handmade! Isn't it amazing?" she stares at me for a few seconds and starts laughing hysterically. It is such a precious moment for me!
What was the process like working with re-?
It was a very personal experience. At every step of the way, I felt heard, I felt that I could say whatever was on my mind. I appreciated that there was this open channel with me and the team. we were working on a very tight schedule and it was so comforting that they kept me up to date with the progress. When they felt that something was going to be a challenge, I saw they were going above and beyond to do it, and when it wasn't possible they always came back with alternative solutions. I felt very involved, I didn't feel like a client, I felt like a partner and this meant so much to me.
How did you feel when you wore the dress on your wedding day?
Until this point I hadn't tried the dress on fully ironed and ready. so this is the first time I see the real look of the fabric, an hour before my wedding! But I remember choosing to wear the dress alone away from the mirror, even put on the shoes and everything before I look in the mirror. When I finally did, I remember thinking "This is Beautiful! I cannot imagine it any other way, this is better that anything I've seen or tried on". I was so grateful and at such peace with myself with my look, I had all my friends and family around me but I felt that Katie and Ateev were such important people in this moment and I even stopped to send them a photo a friend took of me before I stepped out of that room.
I'd told my partner that I was wearing a dress made of recycled material and when he saw me, he was so happy and impressed. Actually, in the middle of the photo session, the photographer was so impressed that she stopped taking photos and came over to experience the texture of the dress. I felt unique and everyone there told me I was a unique bride. And I wouldn't change a thing about that day or about the process that lead me to wearing a dress that means more for me than a wedding gown. it's friendships I've made and an incredible way in which I've challanged myself to go for what I want regardless of how things are usually done.