8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Custom Clothing Experience

8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Custom Clothing Experience

As a couture designer, seamstress and costumier my goal is to create the absolute best garment for you that I can. I offer a free consultation, ask lots of questions (not just about what you want the garment to look like, but also where, how and why you’ll wear it) and do lots of sketches before starting to draft the pattern.

But what if you’re not coming to me? What if you don’t know what to expect? What if you just want to make sure you’re getting the best result possible?

Get a pen and paper, because I’ve collated my top 8 tips for ensuring you get the most from your custom design experience.


1. Research

Before you pick a designer, tailor or dressmaker do your research.
Look for photos of their previous work, their qualifications, reviews from clients or recommendations from people you trust.  Do their style and skills suit the garment you want? ( for example don’t ask a designer who works in leather to make your bespoke silk wedding dress, and don’t expect a vintage reproduction specialist to be an expert in modern knitwear.)

2. Be Prepared

While I offer free consultations, most designers will charge you. Being prepared means you can make the most of your consult to ensure the designer or dressmaker knows exactly what you want and you’re sure they’re the right person for the job.
Things that I’ll ask you at a consult are: your time frame and budget, colour preferences, what occasion the garment is for, a few examples of styles or design features you like, and if there’s anything you really dislike.

3. Ask Questions

Ask if your designer does payment plans (this is especially helpful if you’re budgeting for a wedding) . Ask for a contract, what date they can have the garment completed and for an estimate of the price. Keep in mind that a custom made garment requires a personalised pattern, toiles, several fittings, quality materials and a high level of skill. These all add to the price so expect it to cost more than off-the-rack clothing.

4. Be Open to Advice

I can’t stress this enough.
If you go to a professional, experienced designer or dressmaker they should be able to assess your body shape and advise you if the design you want will be flattering. Please listen to them. We want you to look and feel amazing so if we suggest a change of style or fabric please consider it. I personally refuse to make garments I don’t believe will look good on.

5. Measure Up

A custom made garment is made to fit you, so your seamstress will take your measurements to work from ( I take between 8 and 15 measurements depending on the design). It’s incredibly important you take any lingerie, shapewear or shoes you plan to wear with your garment to your fittings as these can dramatically alter your body shape and height.
It’s also vital to tell your dressmaker if you plan to lose or gain weight, are trying to fall pregnant or if you become very ill during the construction of your garment as these circumstances will affect the fit!

corset pattern pieces | Velvet Decollete

6. Be Honest

This is your dream clothing or costume we’re talking about, so be honest!
If you’re not sure about a design – tell us.
If something’s itching or uncomfortable at a fitting – tell us.
If we suggest a colour or fabric you hate – tell us!
One week from deadline is too late for most designers to change anything and will make the process far more expensive for you, so be straight up about anything you’d like changed as soon as possible.

7. Be On Time

Be on time for fittings, on schedule for buying your lingerie and shoes, and up to date on your payments.
A missed fitting stops work on your garment, meaning it might not be ready for the agreed deadline. Not wearing your shapewear at your fittings could cause last minute alterations when you finally do bring it and find it changes your curves. Putting time pressure on your dressmaker can cause delays or a lower quality of work as we often end up working through the night in these cases!


8. Be Realistic

Custom designed clothing requires hours of painstaking work. Be realistic about what you expect to pay for your perfect garment and how long it’s going to take. Remember that your order is probably one of several they are working on at any given time.

 If you have any questions about commissioning a customised or couture garment flick me a message on my facebook page – I’m happy to help!

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 0 comments
The Orchid Dress | A Vintage Inspired Evening Gown

The Orchid Dress | A Vintage Inspired Evening Gown

Orchid Evening Dress | Beckon Couture

I’ve wanted to shoot in the Hamilton Gardens for over a year. The incredible themed areas are my dream location, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to run in with my Orchid dress as we passed by on the weekend.

I made this gown to wear to Dita Von Teese’s Sydney Strip Strip Hooray show. Thrown together in under a week of after-work evenings , it’s not perfect and needs some adjustments. All in all though it did the trick and I felt like a pinup diva!  Charlotte Cake and I were drenched in a post show storm before taking proper photos of our incredibly glam ensembles, giving me the perfect excuse to rope Duke Debonair into playing photographer.

Inspired by the elegant evening fashions of 1950’s Vogue Magazines the Orchid gown features a slim spiral skirt with gathered side and classic sweetheart bodice. Made in my signature olive green with vivid pink lining the gown boasts white and pink orchids to co-ordinate with white accessories. Vintage pink and white diamante costume jewellery ( a beautiful anniversary gift from Duke ) topped the outfit off perfectly.

Orchid Evening Dress | Beckon Couture

I Just adore how this shot in the mediation garden looks like an image from a 1950’s Vogue Magazine.


Orchid Evening Dress | Beckon CoutureOrchid Evening Dress | Beckon Couture

Outfit Breakdown

Dress | Bespoke gown made by me (Beckon Couture)
Gloves | Vintage
Necklace + Earrings | Tock Tick Vintage
Bracelet | Diva
Shoes | Number One Shoe Warehouse
Stockings | Pretty Polly

Hair and makeup by the wonderful Michelle of Debonair Dos, who worked her magic for the Classics Museum Calendar I modelled for just prior to this!

Photos by Duke Debonair

orchid dress6orchid dress8Orchid Evening Dress | Beckon CoutureOrchid Evening Dress | Beckon CoutureDue to our tight schedule we didn’t have time to see the whole garden. I’d love to return sometime with a whole wardrobe and a day put aside just to explore this absolute gem of a place!


            Velvet x


Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, PINUP, 2 comments
Casually Glamorous | Michele’s Glittering Bridal Party

Casually Glamorous | Michele’s Glittering Bridal Party

Some things happen for a reason. In this case I’d say that reason is love. Michele and Rob were meant to be, and their wedding was one of the most joyous and emotional I’ve seen.

When it came to gowns Michele and her daughter Kathryn knew what they wanted. With reference pictures and (sparkling, enchanting, ocean-esque) fabrics in hand they arrived on my doorstep for Michele’s first consultation. By then end we had sketches for a glamorous wedding gown and three bridesmaids, each tailored to the individual body shape of the wearer.


The custom design process always has ups and downs. Weight loss and a last minute bridesmaid swap due to pregnancy hit this time. Luckily creating dresses for happy people is a great motivator and a few late nights later we were back on schedule. Keeping calm when hiccups happen is part of my job as the designer – the bride has enough on her mind!

My favourite detail of Michele’s bridal gown? The beaded lace jacket. Designing around a specific lace pattern and hand stitching lace and beads is my specialty.

I carefully cut the jacket from the center length of the embellished lace, placing each pattern piece to ensure a symmetrical result. I then trimmed the wide scalloped border from the lace and hand applied it to the constructed jacket to line up with the existing motifs. Careful cutting and overlapping of the scalloped border created the right shape and fit around the hem of the garment. Any stray beads were then resewn into the design.

The result is a garment that looks like it’s made from one piece of specially designed lace, when in fact it’s made from many.


All of the gowns are fully lined and boned to give flattering support and shape. This is essential when creating strapless dresses – there’s nothing worse than seeing a beautifully presented woman pulling up the bust of her dress!





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Happy Endings and Disney Dreams | A Floral Fifties Wedding Dress

Happy Endings and Disney Dreams | A Floral Fifties Wedding Dress

I’m a sucker for a cute love story . Occupational hazard I guess. But Justine’s, Justine’s got me right in the feels…

A Disneyland visit,  a teacup ride proposal, a fun romantic country wedding – it was a happy ending fit for a fairytale! But a Disney heroine needs a suitably wonderful dress. That’s were I come in.

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Justine is a hilarious, energetic, no nonsense kind of gal. She wanted a wedding dress, but liked the idea of a high-low skirt that wouldn’t get in the way of dancing, carousing or shenanigans . It had to suit her sassy personality and vintage fete wedding. . Most of all it had to be sexy; in a classy, classic kind of way.

With Justine’s desires in mind I designed a bold yet timeless floral gown. A 1950’s inspired dress with a full skirt and  boned sash to define the waist. The fluttering satin train is removable, making her dress more versatile (both on the wedding day and after), while matching satin trim defines the sleeve hems and flattering boatneck. I love how the peacock blues made her red hair pop!

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Photos | Kate Little Photography

Justine knew what she wanted from her wedding dress and it made me think: There can be a lot of pressure to please people on your wedding day. Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunties, they all have their idea of what a bride should wear.
What really matters is what you want to wear. I’ve made coloured dresses, short dresses, enormous dresses, and yes – white dresses – and every bride has been beautiful, confident and most importantly… herself.  No two women are the same, so don’t feel like your dress should fit someone else’s mold.

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Lilac Romantic | A Burlesque Costume

Lilac Romantic | A Burlesque Costume

Lilac Romantic –  that’s what I call this costume in my head. It’s kinda classically feminine yet sexy. It’s also kinda almost finished. (Update, since I wrote this post, it’s now finished! Some parts have changed, it’s encrusted with rhinestones and on tour in the USA!).edit 3

This soft lilac, mottled purple and black 5 piece burlesque costume consists of a boudoir robe, corset, panel skirt, bra and G string. It needs fittings and some adjustments to make it perfect, and a half ton of rhinestones need applying by it’s new owner. However I’ve been worked my butt off non stop to have the main parts done by an early deadline so it deserves to be seen!

I’m so excited to finish this and see it adorning MisRed Delicious as she struts (…grinds/shimmies/twerks..) her stuff!
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The Bride Wore Black | A Gothic Wedding in NZ

The Bride Wore Black | A Gothic Wedding in NZ

I’ve spent hours trawling through images of Vivien’s amazing big fat gothic wedding trying to pick my favourites.  They’re all gorgeous… It’s a hard life…

But two cups of tea and many biscuits later, here they are – wedding photos proving that brides can wear black, gothic weddings can be classy, and that getting married your way is the best way! For all the wedding details visit the photographer’s blog, she’s captured them so well.

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My instructions made it into the wedding photos!

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This is my favourite photo in the world right now..

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The father + daughter dance

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Sexiest bridal party. Ever.

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A stolen kiss


Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, OTHER, 2 comments
‘Til Death Do Us Part | A Victorian Steampunk Wedding

‘Til Death Do Us Part | A Victorian Steampunk Wedding

Recieving photos from my clients is one of the most exciting parts of my job! Always accompanied by my squealing with delight and making my Ever Patient Husband look at every. single. photo. I gush over every detail, thankful that I get to be a part of your special events.

I shared some sneaky preview shots of Marshelle’s gown with you a few weeks ago, and now I can finally show you how fantastic she looked on her big day!Marshelle wed Reagan in a detail laden gothic ceremony at Auckland’s Hopetoun Alpha – a beautifully restored historic building. Their theme?                                                                                                                                                                               ‘Til Death Do Us Part. 

Lush Victorian styling, a generous serving of skulls and – wait for it – a cemetery on stage ensured their wedding was a theatrical start to a lifelong commitment.

gold and purple steampunk bride and groom
Marshelle dreamt of a lush Victorian inspired gown with a black, gold and purple colour scheme ( I spent a whole day trawling fabric stores for that specific shade of royal purple!). It had to incorporate an elaborate corset she had chosen, and she needed to dance in it. During the course of our meetings and fittings I designed and constructed this gown with bolero jacket to fulfill her dreams and flatter Marshelle’s bombshell curves.

offbeat black and purple alternative bride
This regal lace and taffeta gown has options – the dramatic train can be bustled to floor level, making it practical for dancing and enjoying your reception (in my mind this is a must. Those finger loops are super annoying, who wants to hold their dress up all night!?). The cropped jacket lends some extra coverage for the ceremony, and I just adore how the brocade pattern echoes the pointed cuffs! Even the wide lace straps I added to the corset can be removed at the brides whim.

I designed Reagan’s waistcoat to match the gold panels on Marshelle’s gown. There really is nothing better than a well dressed couple!

historical goth inspired bride in a top hat

Could that happy family be any cuter? Hades the dog looks very proud.
custom made metal wedding outifts

Black lace bustle steampunk wedding gown


Photos | Erin Currie
Bridal gown and jacket | Beckon Couture
Groom’s Waistcoat | Beckon Couture
Groom’s suit | Ebay


Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, OTHER, 0 comments
A Mad Hatter’s Wedding

A Mad Hatter’s Wedding

Sometimes as a designer you get to work with people who light up a room. People who have effervescent personalities just bubbling over – Stacey, one of my brides this season, is one of those people!

As a bridal stylist I had the honour of helping select her gown and wedding jacket, an adorable ’50’s number for her Mad Hatter’s garden party wedding. As the details of the big day came together it sounded like so much fun – so I was thrilled when she commissioned me to make her bridal headpiece!

Stacey already had a fantastic pair of teal green shoes laced with velvet ribbons. A tiny snip and I had a velvet colour sample to work from. Stacey left Auckland, trusting me with the design of her hat. Not too big, not too small, sophisticated but still fun – it had to be just right.

Using traditional millinery techniques I crafted vibrant teal taffeta into a miniature top hat, embellished with a billowy peacock blue organza bow and fluttering peacock plumes for movement. A brooch belonging to Stacey’s grandmother would be delivered later, a final, sentimental touch.

Stacey's teal mad hatters mini top hat
Mad Hatters garden party wedding

Stacey wearing her Beckon Couture miniature bridal hat
The new standard dinosaur wedding photo!
Venue | Markovina Vineyard Estate
Stacey’s hat | Beckon Couture
1950’s style lace dress | Maggie Sottero


Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, OTHER, 2 comments
Workroom Journal: A Terrifyingly Beautiful Bride

Workroom Journal: A Terrifyingly Beautiful Bride

Eighteen metres of fabric. Seven metres of tulle. One bag of Polyfill. Around ninety hours of work. One rockstar of a bride.

A while back I introduced you to Vivien Masters , one of my gorgeous brides for the season. Apart from having impeccable taste (obviously), she’s also stunning. Like,  ethereal creature stunning. At first sight her future husband described her as ‘terrifyingly beautiful’.

Needless to say, her wedding gown had to be equally majestic…
I think it was…

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography


Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Those first photos are by the immensely talented Nisha Ravji Photography (whom I hope doesn’t mind me sharing them). I’m following her Facebook page with baited breath, and letting out an excited squeal with every image she posts!
Following photos from my workroom records. Stay tuned for a full feature on the daring bride, and the biggest dress I’ve created here at Beckon Couture!


black rococo wedding dress copy

lace bodice wedding dress copy

gothic lace bridal gown copy


Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, OTHER, 0 comments

RiK Photoshoot: Part One (Warning – Nudity!)

Of all the photographers wanting to borrow designs for photoshoots, Richard Leonard is one I am always happy to oblige! He shot one of the very first sets for Cog & Compass ( and myself as a model ), and is so easy to work with.

His latest shoot featuring my couture work explores the connection between fashion and the female form – making a more direct link between skin and adornment. The theme starts with artistic nude shots and flows into an edgy fashion style. These first photos are my pick of the nude shots – I love the sense of vulnerability and softness.

fashion nude 1
fashion nude 2
fashion nude 3

fashion nude 4

Photographer: RiK // Model: Rose // Accessories: Cog and Compass by Beckon Couture.


When asked what his vision for the photoset was RiK replied;
“I have been shooting art nudes for quite a number of years & although I will continue to do so, I wanted to start to create some images that expanded my view of the human form, joining forces with other creative minds… Designers create clothes & accessories to flatter & show off the body, so I want to create images that illustrate a direct connection. “

Collaborating with designers and stylists, he’s creating works that expose more flesh than your run-of-the-mill fashion photos, showing the human form as both clothes-horse and muse.

I’m still making my way through the more… attired… part of the shoot, photos to come in the next few days!

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, OTHER, 2 comments