In a previous life (before kids) I was a bridal gown designer. Yes, I made wedding gowns. I designed them, draped them, made patterns and sewed them, with the help of two assistant seamstresses who could sew much faster than me.
My love of fashion began at an early age. While other kids were excited to watch Saturday morning cartoons, I turned on CNN at 7 am on Saturday mornings to watch Style with Elsa Klench and became mesmerized watching the runway shows from Paris. I want to do that, I would say to myself. I got my first sewing machine at age 13 and learned to sew from a neighbor (my mother is not domestic). In high school, I made my own homecoming dress and studied French thinking I would one day move to Paris and open up my own couture house (such an ambitious and naive little girl I was). When my sister went off to college, I turned her room into my sewing room and plastered the walls with pages torn out of Elle, Vogue & W magazine. My favorites were Jean-Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana and the ever-amazing Thierry Mugler. I even fancied naming one of my future children Thierry. More recent favorites are Victor & Rolf (I’m still haunted by their Russian doll show) and the late and forever great Alexander McQueen. I first met my husband when I was in fashion school in NYC. He asked who my favorite designer was. I said Alexander McQueen and he knew who I was talking about. You could say it was love at first sight. On one of our early dates, we went shopping in the meatpacking district at Jeffrey. As he perused the women’s clothing rack, he commented, “This is very uncharacteristic of Dries Van Noten this season.” I knew he was The One.
My life and career has taken me in strange and opposing directions. It has always been a struggle for me to stay on one path, but in 2008, I quit my last legal gig and set up shop in a tiny studio in West Berkeley. I made custom wedding gowns for friends, friends of friends, and word of mouth clients. It was a good run. But after my first child was born, everything changed. What once seemed so important, like a stitch out of place or a flare that didn’t hang just right, all seemed frivolous. Everything seems frivolous when you have a screaming baby on your hands. Time was so much more precious and time away from baby was excruciating. And a wedding gown takes a lot of time. Four months after giving birth, I finished my last two dresses and closed up shop. I was sad to see it go, my dream. But I just didn’t feel it anymore.
It’s amazing how parenthood can change you. A dream I had for two decades, what I thought was my one true passion, was suddenly gone. I had an identity crisis. I didn’t want to “just be a mom.” Before having kids, I used to hear people talk about other women saying, “Yea, she used to ____ [fill in the blank with type of work/business] but then she had kids (and gave it up)” [cue: roll of eyes]. I used roll my eyes too, thinking I would never quit working when I became a mom. I never wanted to be a woman that didn’t pursue my passion or gave up on my dreams because of children. I didn’t want to live with regret. But now I understand. Being a mom is an all-consuming mind and body-altering event that changes your entire outlook on life. I used to think I’d want more to life than just being a mom, but your child becomes your life, whether you want it to or not. That might sound depressing to someone without kids. I couldn’t fathom this thought when I didn’t have kids. But I’m glad that I had the opportunity to exercise my passion, however short-lived. It was a mental tug-of-war to give it up, but I don’t regret it at all. It is now time to move on to new dreams with a mother’s perspective. It has taken me awhile to come to terms with “just being a mom.” It’s more than I ever thought it could be.
So I have decided to put my sample wedding gowns up for sale. It is a bit sad for me to let them go, like closing the door on a chapter of my life. They encompass a year+ of work and represent many more years of planning and dreaming. But I don’t need a bunch of wedding gowns hanging in my closet for nostalgic purposes. What a waste of precious closet space. I am hoping that my past dream can make a future bride’s dream wedding (gown) come true.
Time to make room for new ideas and creations. I’ve dusted off my sewing machine and am ready to jump back on that horse. Stay tuned here and on my Etsy shop to see my next sewing endeavors & adventures. Coming soon!