THE DRESS

The National - News - Luxury - - WEDDINGS -

Mireille Lough­lin re­fuses to be pushed on the point of which of the dresses she has cre­ated in her 30-year ca­reer was the most spe­cial to her. “Ev­ery time you do a dress it will be a new ex­pe­ri­ence,” says the founder of Arushi Cou­ture. “There’s al­ways that mo­ment when you think, ‘oh wow’.”

How­ever, a bride who has set her heart on an Arushi dress must first un­der­stand that this will be no quick trip to The Dubai Mall. “If you wear a cou­ture dress, it’s a slow process,” continues the French-born Lough­lin. “First we dis­cuss de­sign with the bride, take mea­sure­ments, show her some ideas of em­bel­lish­ment, what type of lace goes with the fab­ric. Then we do a toile, get the pro­por­tions right, dis­cuss the cut and the de­tails, where it’s go­ing to be on her body. Then we start cut­ting the dress and fit it.”

At times, it takes the en­tire team to work on a gown, per­haps fly­ing to Switzer­land to source a par­tic­u­lar fab­ric, or at­tach­ing a lengthy train (the long­est Lough­lin re­calls was six me­tres) so that it falls just so. But pa­tience is in­evitably re­warded with an el­e­gant, form-fit­ting dress that the guests – and the groom – will never for­get.

This de­tailed ap­proach is some­thing that for­mer Arushi em­ployee Ezra San­tos has taken with him to his own ate­lier, from which he has run the Ezra la­bel for more than a decade. “I per­son­ally at­tend to all the brides who come to our ate­lier and su­per­vise ev­ery sin­gle de­tail for each and ev­ery bride,” he says. “All my de­signs are to­tally made for each in­di­vid­ual’s taste and style.”

Ezra’s cre­ations are lav­ishly ro­man­tic, call­ing to mind vin­tage Chris­tian Dior, and he tries to com­ply with ev­ery re­quest. To wit, one bride in Abu Dhabi wanted her dress to illuminate in a dark­ened ball­room; Ezra obliged, in­cor­po­rat­ing tiny light bulbs into his de­sign.

For many brides, money is truly no ob­ject. When the Le­banese de­signer Walid Atal­lah cre­ated a $1.2 mil­lion (Dh4.4m) gown for the launch of the Burj Al Arab in 2002, his cre­ation, which used sil­ver and gold thread, di­a­monds, emer­alds and chunks of gold, was in­tended to be a one-off. But at least one bride has since com­mis­sioned a replica with a sim­i­lar price tag.

AT­TEN­TION SEEKER Ex­quis­ite wed­ding dresses aside, the de­signer Ezra San­tos is big on per­son­alised fit­ting ses­sions.

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