Welcome to How It’s Made. Where we go behind the scenes with your favourite brands to find out how their designs are produced. For our next instalment, we visited luxury bridal and ready-to-wear label Lillian Khallouf, to discover what goes into crafting an intricate wedding dress.
Lillian Khallouf was always going to work in fashion—the designer (who has over 10 years of experience) grew up spending her days at the family business—a clothing manufacturing company. Now, Khallouf is at the head of her own label, and along with her sister Dianna, creates luxury bridal couture, and beautifully tailored ready-to-wear collections.
The label's ready-to-wear offering is growing and has become a new focus for Khallouf, and proof that it's working is in the number of influencers spotted in the brand. Jennifer Hawkins, Nicole Warne, Carmen Hamilton, and Sofia Richie can all be counted as fans.
Khallouf's creations are intricate, detailed, and different. If you've ever wanted to know how a bridal gown is created, wonder no more. Keep scrolling to read our interview with Lillian, to discover how one of her intricate designs is created.
Who What Wear Australia: Tell us about how your luxury label launched.
Lillian Khallouf: Lillian Khallouf Couture has been going for over a decade and we just produced our third RTW collection. My sister (Dianna) and I spent a lot of our childhood spending time at our father’s clothing manufacturing business (he was a tailor), which helped develop our passion for design. From there, I earned a scholarship to study design, and Dianna, who recently joined the label full-time, studied jewellery design. Once graduated, I set up my own bridal couture store and spent the next 12 years developing custom made pieces. After working in bridal for so long, I decided to adapt my skills to ready to wear. I loved the idea of being able to make beautiful garments but in a more accessible and easy to wear way.
WWW: You create custom couture bridal gowns—talk us through the process of creating a bespoke wedding dress from start to finish.
LK: We start off with a design session where we sit down with the bride and get to know her personally so that the garment ultimately reflects her own unique style and individuality. This may include some rough on-the-spot sketching and looking at fabric swatches and appliques to get the best idea of what we can do for the client. The choice of fabric, cut, and personal finishing touches available for couture garments are immense, and can be overwhelming, so communication with the client is very important.
From there it can take weeks to settle on the final design—the process changes from client to client and we might have numerous fittings with the toile until the garment fits perfectly. From there you can actually construct the final piece. Couture is so different to ready to wear, not only in the design stages, but from the attention to detail required in the construction stages. It is process that can take hundreds of hours which is why the pieces are so special.
WWW: How many people are involved in creating one of your bridal gowns?
LK: Creating a beautiful couture gown is always a team effort. Our atelier is made up of six beautiful workers who are master designers and seamstresses, with over 40 years of combined experience and are renowned for creating beautiful dresses. We handcraft all our dresses in-house to ensure the quality and ability to respond to everyone’s requests.
WWW: How long does it take from initial consultation, to the customer taking home her own?
LK: We recommend giving a minimum of 12 weeks before deadline to allow time for sourcing fabrics, design development and garment construction.
WWW: Where’s your studio?
LK: Our atelier is currently based in Illawong, but we are in the process of moving to inner Sydney to accommodate more of our clientele.
WWW: Where do you source your materials?
LK: All of our materials are sourced from around the world but the majority are European fabrics, appliques and finishings.
WWW: Do you have a style of dress that women come to you for specifically?
LK: I don’t believe so, as over the years there have been so many different designs. I have been making a lot of key-hole designed gowns at the moment—Jennifer Hawkins, Sofia Richie, and Nicole Warne, have all worn versions of these dresses. Lots of clients come to us because of our work with fabrications, appliques and embellishments, which is always fun as it allows for more creativity with a gown.
WWW: What do you think will be the next big bridal trend?
LK: I think that we are already starting to see signs of what we can expect from 2017. You would think that the off-the-shoulder trend that has been so popular in ready to wear would be over but it is looking like it is just as popular in the bridal world. I think brides are going to be making more daring and skin-baring choices, with deep v-necklines and backless dresses always making for beautiful gowns. I am also enjoying the more daring fabric choices from 3D motifs, to sheer embroidery it makes the design process really creative and fun.
Not searching for a wedding dress? Shop Lillian Khallouf's gorgeous RTW collection.