The Bride Wore Black | A Gothic Wedding in NZ

The Bride Wore Black | A Gothic Wedding in NZ

I spent hours trawling through images of artist Vivien Master’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.

Fashion geeks can find full details and workroom photos of this bespoke wedding gown and it’s layers on my workroom journal post. ( I know you’re wondering how we supported those dramatic skirts, or how she no one tripped over the incredible veil!) I designed and made this black bridal gown back in 2014 and it’s still my favourite. Probably because I would 100% wear it myself!

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

Outfit Details

Couture wedding dress, foundations & veil | Velvet DeCollete ( That’s me!)
Floral Headress | Created by the bride, Vivien Masters
Shoes | Pinup Couture

Vivien looked like some kind of aristocratic vampire queen and couldn’t have been more beautiful. Imagine how those taffeta skirts rustled as she walked down the aisle. Imagine Nick’s jaw dropping when he saw this vision in lace, her ivory skin glowing against the black. It’s just too perfect.

I can never stress enough how personal wedding gowns are, and how the right one can fill you with confidence. It’s not a day to compromise on style, to bow to someone else’s demands or to water down your own unique flavour. It’s your day to celebrate your love. So be you! Be the most you possible and experience the pure joy that brings.

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I often make little information sheets for my clients, because it’s easy to forget hidden closures and details when you’re excited. While my info sheets look a lot fancier these days I found it so sweet that the wedding photographer decided to include Vivien’s in her photographs.

When I create custom wedding gowns and costumes, I always include care and wearing instructions for my clients

Making once in a lifetime dream gowns makes me happier than anything else. Nothing beats seeing someone put on their custom made dress and absolutely light up because they feel so confident! If you’d like to chat about having a unique gown of your own feel free to drop me a line, I’d love to make you feel like a million dollars x

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 4 comments

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.

The Design Process

When it came to gowns bride Michele and her daughter Kathryn knew what they wanted. With inspiration images and (sparkling, enchanting, ocean-esque) fabrics in hand they arrived on my doorstep for Michele’s first consultation. The theme was casual glamour – glittering gowns and romantic flowers in an outdoor wedding ceremony, followed by the reception was in an adorable rustic hall.

By the end of that consultation 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 threw some spanners in the works. Luckily creating dresses for happy people is a great motivator and a few late nights later I was back on schedule. Keeping calm when hiccups happen is part of my job as the designer – the bride has enough on her mind!



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That Beaded Jacket

My favourite detail of Michele’s bridal gown? The beaded lace jacket. Designing garments around lace patterns and hand stitching lace and beads is my specialty. ( Vivien Master’s gown is another example of my love for lacework, check out her delicate corded lace bodice here. )

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 dress itself features beaded lace motifs on and under the bust, making the jacket and dress appear as one piece.

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. As a bonus, the separate jacket can worn over any dress, so Michele can enjoy wearing this sentimental piece on special occasions.



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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 hiking the top of her dress up all the time!

If you’d like to enquire about creating a stunning gown of your own, feel free to contact me. I promise it’s a relaxed process and not at all scary! More beautiful gowns and happy clients can be found in my design gallery.

With Style & Sass,

       Velvet DeCollete






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Meet Me in the Olive Grove

Meet Me in the Olive Grove

I feel like I’m running a sewing marathon at the moment! But a nice marathon, where I decide the route and you don’t end up sweaty and red faced at the end. With awesome retro events like the Beach Hop and Very Vintage Day Outnot the mention the Tiki Afterparty – waving on the horizon I feel it’s time to broaden my vintage style wardrobe. After all, I can’t just wear lingerie everywhere … can I?
Thus, I’ve made the Olive dress.

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The Pattern: Burda 5882 – this is a ‘Designed by Gertie’ pattern, she has a rad sewing blog that’s actually a life saver if you’re a beginner sewer, or an expert needing inspiration or a plain english translation of a technique you haven’t tried. This pattern would be easy enough for a beginner sewer, with only the bust shelf being a bit tricky at points.

The Fabric: Before you ask, I found it in the furnishing section. 82% of my fabrics are probably upholstery or curtain fabrics as I find them lovely to work with and a source of super cool prints, like this retro-as olive number. Sadly it’s a 3 way pattern and was a nightmare to match. Normally I’d fight it out but as it’s just for me I didn’t worry about it. The lining is standard rayon lining, often I’d use something else but this is all I could find at the time that didn’t clash horribly. I looked for a matching green but grey to match the black olives works fine.
The contrast bust is a faux raw silk left over from a jacket I made a million years ago for a wedding.

The Details: I might go back and add a horsehair braid to the hem for extra volume, and a belt for extra definition. Also I can’t decide whether I like the strap turned up or down under the bust.

The Style: I accessorised this dress with a pair of white vintage gloves and white leather peep toes. I won’t lie, I borrowed/stole the shoes from my mother. I really need to buy some heels that aren’t 4-6″! I think I’ll make a teeny olive hat to match too.

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Photos | James Beck
(also known as the EverPatient Husband, and The Man Who Remembered We Have Olive Trees.)
Model, MUA, Hair | Moi

P.S : I’d just like ya’ll to appreciate how much better I’m getting at this girly hairstyling thing.



Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 3 comments
The Day We Ran Away with the Circus

The Day We Ran Away with the Circus

As a slightly crazy, fabulously attired performer sometimes you get to do really neat stuff. Like spend an afternoon ringmaster-ing fairground games for the Vintage Amusements Co. at a summer circus wedding.

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The Ever Patient Husband actually had this gig fall in his lap so I was stoked to go along for the ride. Obviously a suitable carnie costume was needed for such a theatrical a wedding (besides, I can’t be out dressed by my own husband now can I?). Luckily I had enough fabric left from the Joker cosplay to make myself a matching suit!

Costume Rundown:
I decided to line my suit in bright teal instead of the Joker orange, the teal/purple colour combo just sings to me! It means the two costumes look like a pair but aren’t “matchy matchy”.

The skirt: A double circle skirt for spectacular swirling with a waistcoat front. The buttons are huge mother of pearl beauties that belonged to my great grandmother – so they’re pretty special. I’m making a quick turquoise net petticoat for the skirt before I wear it again this weekend.
The jacket: Acropped tailcoat with a pussycat bow closure. I looooove tailcoats and have one amazing pattern that I use as a block to create all my tailcoat patterns! I might add a bit of gold braid to it in the future, but life is keeping me too busy right now.
The purple bra: A lucky find from the sale section at Farmers.
The shoes:white embroidered Doc Martens from my collection.

The Duke: We changed the Joker cosplay shirt out for a classic white one, and added some purple suspenders and a bow tie for vintage flair. Oh, and a silly hat.

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The Raven Mistress; Couture Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe

So often my designs are inspired by words. A paragraph, a single sentence, the shortest heartfelt lyric. Left to stew in my mind these can blossom into a concept or character, just waiting to be tweaked and evolved by pencil on paper.

My favourite creation was one such idea, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s masterpiece ‘The Raven‘ . Verses seven and eight in particluar…

“Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'”

The description of the raven as stately and beguiling lead me on a path. Were the ravens intentions good or ill? Was it simply the puppet of someone behind the scenes, hoping to drive Poe to madness?

After tons of research and development, these questions lead to “The Raven Mistress”. This gown is a dark, dramatic representation of Poe’s Raven, and its ability to hide its true nature and intentions behind a beguiling facade. I explored themes including the power and decadence of high social status and manipulation through beauty.

One of the mood boards I created during the design process.

I sketched pages and pages of concepts before the final design was developed.

The Raven Mistress is a gown of raw black silk, overlayed with fine net. I sewed much of the gown by hand, using couture construction techniques. Even the huge hemline was handsewn (and what an undertaking that was!).

The velvet bodice is embellished with hand woven beaded feathers. I crafted each of these to a specific size and combination of white, silver and black Japanese glass beads to create the gradient of colour through the bodice, before individually sewing them in place. Hundreds  of hours went into this process, leaving me almost as mad as Poe by the end!

More net flows elegantly from the shoulders, blending with the overlay of the gown to create layers of shifting black over the shine and texture of the silk. Long strands of faceted glass beads loop to the wrists and down the gowns train, creating a stylised Raven wings and tail.





Words can lead to things we never imagined, so go forth my friends, and read! ( I’m not suggesting you become obsessed and dedicate a few months of your life to one dress, but a smaller project could be just as enjoyable, and somewhat better for your health.)

If you’d like to explore more of Poe’s work this website is very helpful, even providing a list of Edgar’s more uncommon vocabulary with definitions.





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