Don't worry , we haven't gone completely off topic - this isn't a post about the meaning of life, it's all about the meaning of bridal, well, jargon.
We realise that we throw around certain terms a lot, like "indie" and "ethical", and we talk about "made to order" and "made to measure" without always stopping to think that you lovely lot might be wondering "made to what, now?"
So, we've enlisted one of our wonderful designers, Kevin, founder of Muscat Bridal, to talk you through some bridal terminology. Enjoy!
Muscat is an indie, demi-couture Bridal brand. We make dresses to order in our atelier and uphold ethical and boho values.
What a load of jargon! What does it all mean? Here’s a jargon buster to help every bride understand a little more what is happening to her dress and where.
MADE-TO-ORDER, BESPOKE and MADE-TO-MEASURE
These terms mean that garments are not produced in large numbers at the same time, but each one is only started when the client orders. A Made-to-order dress is made to an existing pattern in a standard size, while, as the name implies, made-to-measure means the dress is cut to the bride’s exact measurements. Bespoke is a vaguer term that could mean either made-to-order or made-to measure – it literally means ‘spoken for’ and is more typically used in menswear.
THE ATELIER and IN-HOUSE PRODUCTION
Atelier is just a fancy name for the designer’s workshop. This is usually a space where the garments are designed, first samples produced, model fittings held etc. In some instances, brands decide that they want all the garments to be made in their own workshops. Other brands instead use factories or specialist small units to have their garments made. In-house
means that your dress is made in the company’s own workshops.
Brides may believe that a made-to-order or made-to-measure gown must be made by the designer’s team or in the country of origin. This is not necessarily the case. Big brands often manufacture overseas. This does not mean a reduction in quality as different countries excel at specific techniques. For example, India is known for its embroidery and beading work.
ETHICAL or RESPONSIBLE BRAND
An ethical brand is one which pays particular attention to the way it is impacting people and environment. This isn’t a regulated term and the exact interpretation depends on the brand’s values. The company might consider:
• Where is the fabric being made?
• Is it damaging the environment?
• Who is making the dresses?
• What conditions are they working in?
• Are they being paid a living wage?
Being ethical has no bearing on how your dress looks, but if certain values are important to you, then you might look for a designer that aligns with your beliefs.
Indie brands (short for independent) are often founded with a mission to serve the specific needs of a niche audience.
They are generally born out of the desire of the founder to solve a problem that he or she is passionate about, and it is this passion that defines the brand. This drive resonates deeply with their target audience and they appeal to consumers seeking an alternative to mass market brands.
A dictionary definition of a boho (or bohemian) individual is “a socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts”. Dresses described as boho would typically be fairly un-traditional and even rebellious. We are lucky to live in an era where individual design aesthetic which does not conform to traditional expectation is beginning to be appreciated. So, whether the designer is inspired by mid-century flower power or brutal minimalism, whether the bride is a rock chic or a vintage babe, all hail the Bohemian!
The most bandied-about term in bridal is Haute Couture or Couture. While a direct translation only means high sewing, Haute Couture is a legally protected term — and fashion houses are only granted the designation by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
To qualify as an official Haute Couture house, members must meet very specific criteria, including designing made-to-order clothes for private clients, with more than one fitting and using an atelier (workshop) that employs at least fifteen fulltime staff. They must also have twenty full-time technical workers in one of their other workshops, and must present a collection of no less than 25 original designs —both day and evening garments— to the public every season, in January and July.
While lots of Haute Couture houses present wedding gowns, a bridal-only label cannot be recognized by the Chambre Cyndicale because it cannot meet the day and evening-wear criteria. This by no way means that a bridal company cannot produce garments at the same level of quality and original design as an haute couture house, but it cannot properly call itself Couture. Houses which cannot or have not met all the criteria are considered Demi-Couture.
A little about Muscat
Muscat is a young brand, led by its founder, Kevin Muscat.
Kevin’s passion for quality and craftsmanship is reflected in each dress. Fabrics are sourced worldwide but especially from Europe and, with the help of his team, each dress is lovingly hand-made in the Muscat workshop in Hertfordshire.
Proud to be Made in Britain, the atelier is open to clients every weekend, where Kevin personally meets every bride. Muscat designs are also available in carefully curated stores worldwide.
At Muscat we believe that a wedding dress is an elevated version of the bride’s personal style, not an attempt to shoe-horn a bride into someone else’s vision of what a wedding should look like. Created when Kevin’s sister was getting married and could not find the
simple, timeless dress she wanted, these keywords remain at the core of Muscat.