RIDES-TO-BE in Myanmar are spoilt for choice when they need to choose that gown for that special day – and the designer who can make that dream come true.
One such designer is Pyae Soe Aung, one of the most popular when it comes to traditional wedding dresses. Most of his designs feature classic patterns and cool colours.
“I will create about 30 wedding dresses for this year’s new collection. Mostly, I will be playing with colours in particular. Most brides choose cheik [an elaborate silk longyi or htamein with a beautiful and intricate wave pattern in several colour combinations and worn almost invariably by the bride and groom in matching colours]. So all my dresses are based on cheik patterns – large, medium and small sizes – and my new collection mixes all sizes of cheik patterns. Some will be made in creeper plant patterns – straight, horizontal and vertical creeper,” he said.
Mogok Pauk Pauk, who always makes wedding dresses in classic colours and Western styles, said his creations this year give more attention to cheik patterned designs.
“Htaing ma thein [traditional bridal dress] can’t go against conventional culture, so my dresses will be based on traditional designs. I’ll play with multicolours for cheik, but I’ll use cool base colours. I’ll make different kinds of patterns for shawls, yin khan [bodice] and the yay thee nar [hem of the htamein] and use real cheik designs.
“I’ve created my dresses in such a way that they can be worn not only by those going along with traditional culture but also for modern-day young people. There is traditional cheik with Western style that looks graceful. And then, I will be adding flowery patterns to shawls,” he said.
Designer Ma Pont (My Favourite) said her collection puts emphasis on colours that look cool and Western.
“I will add lace and flower motifs to cheik with multicolours. I don’t want to be recreating htaing ma thein so I will just play with colours and cheik lines based on traditional culture,” she said.
Designer Myo Min Soe from Mandalay, who creates different types of shawl every wedding season, said his collection this year is based on the royal look.
“During a wedding ceremony, a bridal’s back is most noticeable, so I’ve made shawls with machine embroidery decoration. I chose light green, light yellow and golden colours in previous years. I don’t like unusual colours at all,” he said.
Pyae Soe Aung takes a different tack. “What colour will be popular depends on customers. If I use my favourite colour, they may not like it. For me, I like really pink colours for this year. But customers choose their own colours when it comes to wedding dresses.”
Myo Min Soe likes light pink or baby pink. “I’ve made dresses with a combination of pink and purple colours. I’ve also made violet dresses with silver cheik lines for pre-wedding photo shots. I think people are choosing light colours more and more.”
Ultimately, however, designers listen to what women want.
Pyae Soe Aung said, “I always negotiate with my customers to make a design that would be pleasing to both the customer and me. Women look pretty in wedding dress regardless of their skin colour or body size. If a bride’s features don’t match a traditional dress, I make a Western-style creation, twig and creeper patterns, for her. I am supposed to create a dream dress for my customers. I also need to know where the wedding reception will be held. The location and the wedding dress have to be balanced. A grand location would not go well with a normal wedding dress. Likewise, an unimportant location and an over-decorated wedding dress would not match.”
Ma Pont said her designs take into account the bride’s skin tone and body size. “I have to give advice to them once I know what they want,” she said.
If anything, designers are busier than ever because weddings are not just a one-event day any more. Many now include a separate marriage signing ceremony, an offering of food to monks, a purifying ceremony for the bride and groom, and dinner. That means different outfits are needed.
Myo Min Soe said, “Dinner dresses are designed in unusual colours, or white with lace. I use bright blue or gold mostly. Dress lengths depend on the customer’s choice. I prefer long sleeves with thin lace to strapless designs.”
Pyae Soe Aung mostly creates casual dresses rather than elegant ones for the dinner.
“Brides usually wear two dresses – the first dress for the evening is from wedding gown shops and the second is designer- made. Most of them usually order brightly coloured wedding gowns. Some do go for black or white gowns. I have to design based on the customer’s demand. Mostly, I create simple dresses for dinner. It would be better for the bride if the dress is casual and freestyle,” he said.
Mogok Pauk Pauk, who favours attractive evening gowns, said, “Customers choose cool colours than bright ones for Western-style wedding dresses. For white dresses, I create designs using lace. Some are strapless with a long train at the back. I always make the dresses in Western style. Brides look spotless in those dresses.” Pyae Soe Aung’s main advice is that brides should choose simple dresses rather than complicated ones. “They should choose designs that suit them. Brides are often worried on their wedding day. But if a bride is not relaxed, it will show on her face. That’s why brides need to choose comfortable dresses.”
Translation by Zar Zar Soe and Khant Lin Oo