Recently while in Portland, I spent some time with the talented Elizabeth Dye. Not only does she make all of her own patterns, but she also knows each one of her sewers personally. She is very in touch with who her bride is and has made a natural transition from making dresses for her friends, to running a successful business that is quickly growing. Here’s a little more about Elizabeth and her amazing work:
1. Did you always know you wanted to work in bridal? Bridal chose me—my first dresses were for friends who were shell-shocked by the traditional bridal gown options. Since then bridal has become much more fashion-forward (I like to think my dresses are part of that!).
2. How do you stay inspired to make new creations each season? Inspiration to create is always there—the problem is finding enough hours in the day to make everything that I have dreamed up! I have stacks and stacks of sketches, dresses waiting to be created.
3. How would you describe the Elizabeth Dye Bride? She’s a modern romantic who appreciates timeless style and fine fabrics. She’s drawn to the playfulness, femininity and whimsy of my dresses, but has a good head on her shoulders. She’s not a high-drama princess or a diva. I love my brides—they are always really nice people I could see myself being friends with.
4. I found you after I saw editorial on the Rose/Dust dress. It really stood out to me. Did you get a lot of PR after those images were released? Rose/Dust was a one of a kind gown and people really went crazy for it. I dearly wish I could make it again, but the lace was a special find, never to be repeated. The scarcity is part of the preciousness of the dress, though. Not everything can or should be infinitely reproduced.
5. Where is the production for your dresses My dresses are made locally. I know the names of my seamstresses and I personally oversee production. I do a lot of detail work and finishing on my dresses myself. It’s important to me to stay connected to the process.
6. You already have a nice National distribution. Any plans to go international? I do sell in Canada and Australia currently, and will soon be selling in Hong Kong. I get a lot of inquiries from the UK, so London is hopefully my next stop!
7. What advice would you give someone who is interested to pursue bridal design? You have to love the actual day-to-day, because bridal design is not like being at a wedding every day! I love the technical challenges and the fabrics I get to work with, and I love coming up with creative ways to fit and flatter the body. I also love that I’m making a special gown that is as much a performance as a garment.
8. What was your inspiration for the name The English Department for your shop? I was an English major in college, and the joke, of course, is that it’s an impractical degree with few job prospects. But a liberal arts education is great preparation for being an entrepreneur—you have to be an independent critical thinker every day!
9. You have some styles that are always in the collection as well as new ones each year. What was your most popular dress of all times? It changes—every season has a hit. Tempest and For Emily have become enduring classics, but right now Siren is the lady of the hour.
Special thanks to Elizabeth Dye for spending part of her day with me. You can find her dresses at Lovely Bride.
You can also check her website here: http://www.theenglishdept.com.