Today we introduce you to couture bridal designer extraordinaire, Maria Apostolou of Vellos Bridal. Maria caters for the bride looking for elegance, with a focus on beautiful fabrics and the perfect fit for their special day.
Read on to learn more about Maria, her life as a couture bridal designer and her tips for picking your dream design.
1. Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Maria and I’m the owner of Vellos Bridal Design. I am a wife to the man, or should I say boy as we were so young, that I started dating when we were only 16. Together we share four children—two boys and two girls. I love all things fun and creative. Sometimes that means preparing a delicious meal for my family, sometimes it means playing around with home wares in my house, but most of the time my creative outlet is my dresses.
2. How did you get into couture bridal design?
I am sure everyone has heard the term ‘frustrated designer’—well, that was me. The truth about design in Australia is that we follow overseas trends, copy and re-produce existing styles, and furthermore we produce them out of China and India. Where’s the fun in that?
I need to be creative and build things from scratch. I love discovering new ways to do things and I love pushing myself to make things that I didn’t know that I could. Couture Bridal is somewhere that I can do that.
Girls who want a couture gown are girls who don’t want to have the same dress as everyone else; they want a dress that is as individual as they are, so that’s where I can be creative and do what I really love to do.
Like anyone’s career, there was a distinctive moment when I realised that couture bridal design was what I wanted to do. At the time, I was working for a discount department store men’s shorts brand. Basically, my job was to choose different colours for cotton shorts and move the pockets around a little, so we could then call it a new ‘style’.
At that time, my youngest sister was getting married and I offered to make her bridesmaids dresses. I tore the end of the fabric roll, as you do to achieve a straight grain. I was so thrilled by the sound it made and the way that it felt, so I rang my sister squealing with excitement—of course she thought I’d lost my mind, but in fact, that was the moment I found my calling.
3. Describe your aesthetic
My designs are understated and feminine. I draw inspiration from vintage gowns, rather than fashion trends. I believe it is equally important to not over-design a dress as it is to not under-design a dress. The fit, drape and embellishment must all work together in unity.
I like a wedding dress that makes a girl feel feminine and beautiful by drawing emphasise on her best assets, rather than trying to manipulate her areas that she isn’t as confident about.
The Vellos Bride is relaxed, yet still glamorous, whimsical while still staying true to her personal style and always beautiful.
4. What does a typical day look like?
I am always working towards my next fitting. Sometimes this can mean spending hours patternmaking, other times this can mean spending hours on my sewing machine. Typically, I do this work during the school days when I can work without interruptions.
Generally, from 3 pm until 7 pm, I switch to my ‘mum mode’ with school pick-ups, homework, after school activities, dinner, and so on. Occasionally I will see clients during this time, but most of my clients see me on Saturdays.
The evenings are usually when I get the chance to get on my computer, check and respond to emails. I’ll often make headpieces and bead during the evening as I find it therapeutic and it gives me the chance to sit with the family while getting more work done.
5. What is your most memorable project?
Now that’s a tricky question to ask a creative, it’s a bit like asking a mother to pick a favourite child! Every dress I work on is always my favourite while it’s in my hands—I know that sounds like a bit of a cliché, but it’s the truth.
6. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
As much as I love booking new brides and feel that this is a huge compliment because I know that the bride has chosen me amongst all the other dress shops she visited; and as much and I love watching the dresses come to life and evolve from a scribble on a page to a bespoke gown; and as much as I love the moment when I am helping the girls place the gowns into the car knowing that I have played such an important part in one of the most important days of her life; the real satisfaction comes later when she sends me photos and beautiful thank you notes. This tells me that she enjoyed her gown as much as I enjoyed making it.
7. What advice would you give to potential clients when choosing a wedding dress design?
Come to your first consultation armed with an open mind and lots of pictures—visuals help me understand what you do and don’t like.
Look at your regular wardrobe. I am not suggesting that you wear something as simple as your favourite casual dress for your wedding, but I am suggesting you have a think about why you like that dress, is it the neckline? Is it because it is fitted or loose in the waist? Is it because you have great legs and maybe wouldn’t mind showing them on your wedding day?
Don’t let other people’s opinions on what you should or shouldn’t wear influence your decision—if you do this, you’ll regret it later because you didn’t have what you really wanted.
8. I am happiest when…
The sun is shining. I love long summer days at the beach with my family. It’s simple really; when you take the time out to enjoy the little moments, it rejuvenates you and in turn, you work better.