8 places to get a custom cocktail dress in Toronto
Every woman should have the luxury of owning a custom cocktail dress; one that makes her feel like the only girl in the world (or at least the hottest in the room). I find the most surefire way to achieve that deep level of sartorial satisfaction is to order a custom dress-- one that's made to measure and one of a kind.
A good custom dress will suit your personal style, be event-appropriate, and fit like a teenage dream. Although custom work can be more expensive than buying off-the-rack, it doesn't have to break the bank. Select stores and designers around town offer this fantasy-to-frock service. Here are some of my favourites:
A master of embroidery, knitting, leathercraft, and roasting the Fords on Twitter, Breeyn designs whimsical frocks that dare to flatter the female form-- just don't call them "fairy-style prom dresses." Seriously. She hates that. With a focus on ethical and eco fashion, her custom dresses (between $150 and $300) are easy on the conscience and wallet. Turnaround time is typically three to four weeks.
A little punk rock princess and a little 50's pinup, Peach Beserk is full of tulle temptations and sassy silkscreen prints with names like "I'm a Natural Woman," "Ick," and "What Would Jesus Print." Colour options include "Commie Red," "Crusin for a Brusin," and "Dirty New York Taxi." Full of funk and flirt, their custom work is the same price as buying off-the-rack (around $500). Up the creative ante by designing your own silkscreen.
Brandon R. Dwyer
This Project Runway Canada alum recently parted ways with the label formerly known as Basch by Brandon, which frees him up to design the elegant eveningwear he does best. Starting at $2000, his dresses are what fashion industry folk refer to as "investment" pieces (he may not know YSL, but he can certainly charge like YSL). His turnaround is quick at two weeks, with three personal fittings in that time to make sure everything's just right.
Champagne and Cupcakes
Bad news: there's actually no champagne or cupcakes to be found here. Good news: the dresses are as cute as the store's playfully misleading name. This is the land of bows, ruffles, and satin. Custom dresses sell between $200 and $329 (yes, exactly $329) for a full-length gown. Turnaround is a little longer at six to eight weeks; so make sure you plan ahead for any special occasions.
Founded in 1985 by a lawyer and architect, this unlikely duo has dressed the likes of Diana Krall, Daria Werbowy, and Alanis Morissette. They can make your dream dress from a picture and work with any fabric you bring in (although they have tons of their own). Most dresses range between $650 and $1200 and take about a month to go from drawing board to your closet.
This store is a haven for potential dress hoarders. Covered from floor to ceiling in a seemingly endless jungle of glam gowns, it's where the wild (and wonderful) things are. Choose from a vortex of design details and fabrics to create an original dress that fits to perfection. The process takes between one and six weeks and costs 50 per cent more than the dress would off-the-rack.
Another Project Runway Canada alumnus (a runner-up this time!), Jessica has designed everything from Fembot-worthy frocks to plus-sized power dresses for Addition Elle. So chances are she can meet your needs, whatever they may be. Bespoke Biffy numbers start at $250, plus the cost of fabrics. Orders are usually completed in less than a month.
Carrie's edgy architectural cuts and precise tailoring are inspired by science, history, and mathematics (someone paid attention in high school). A true artist, she uses everything from photography to tablet sketching and painting to create prints. Custom Carrie dresses go through multiple revisions before being cut in their final fabric and start at $1200.
Writing by Sabrina Maddeaux. Photo from Breeny McCarney's lookbook on Facebook