The show at Skera showcased a number of wedding gowns I have recently designed and reconstructed. More and more couples are choosing to make their weddings into unique expressions of their personalities, values, and experiences. In my work I have seen brides expressing an increased interest in restyling vintage gowns -particularly those belonging to a cherished family member and in creating a bridal look that is less traditional (think less fairy princess and more red carpet). In many cases, if a family heirloom is damaged or cannot be successfully reworked elements of the original piece may be incorporated into the contemporary dress. Color has also been a major trend.

Multiple dresses from Cassandra Holden Designs

Janeâ?(tm)s gown of buttercream silk had belonged to her grandmother. We completely disassembled the original dress, cleaned it and stitched it back together. Unwanted fullness was removed from the skirt and pouf elements stripped from the gloves and bodice. The train was also shortened considerably. What Jane loved however, were the long streamer elements. These we made detachable at the shoulders. In addition we made sure to restore the tiny covered buttons that provided side closure and reinforced this area with an invisible interior placket and snaps so this element could be both decorative and functional (Jane and Jason love to dance!) Their wedding was featured in the most recent issue of Boston Brideâ?(tm)s Magazine.

While Careyâ?(tm)s ensemble (the shell pink ballgown worn with ostrich feather headdress) did not belong to a family member, it did undergo a similar transformation. She was seeking a playful yet dramatic look and after extensive searching purchased a vintage gown from the 1950â?(tm)s. The original bodice was ill-fitting and not in a style that appealed to her. The anemone skirt, however, is a show stopper! The pink taffeta underlayer was removed and the fabric harvested to create a perfectly matching strapless bodice with ruffle trim which echoed the detail on the full waltz skirt. Ruffle trim was also added to her quilted boots. Her dramatic dress and quirky costumey accessories demanded a headpiece of equal flare. Her headdress is comprised of shell pink, ivory and dove grey ostrich feathers as well as elements of the dress. In addition, a detachable tulle and taffeta train was created for the ceremony which could also be worn as a shawl. It snaps on or off as needed and was intended to provide (modest) protection from inclement weather.

Jen and PJ desired a Renaissance themed wedding. In the creation of their garments we interpreted this rather loosely so that their attire offers a fanciful reference to that era rather than a historically accurate recreation of garments from that time. For her gown Jen chose cranberry silk dupioni with matching silk velvet bodice. Both the bodice and custom corset (also in cranberry silk) lace up the back. The voluminous cathedral length train detaches at the waist. For PJâ?(tm)s ensemble we used tone on tone metallic silk dupioni in shades of chocolate and bronze. Frequent Renaissance Faire attendees they have been fortunate to have many opportunities to wear their garments again.

Also featured in the show was the incredible beading and embroidery of Sarah Beth Atherton. She was the final model at the event and was responsible for the snowflake rhinestone and crystal beading on her white silk gown. She and I have worked together closely for a number of years and it is her handiwork that you can see on Nancyâ?(tm)s peach/pink silk brocade gown with organza overlay…her dress is framed by floral scroll embroidery at the hem and neck edge and has Nancyâ?(tm)s two cats included in the design. Sarah Beth also beaded Nancyâ?(tm)s shoes so they would co-ordinate perfectly with her ensemble.

If you would like to see more images from the show, click here.

Cassandra Holden attended Smith College, Alfred University, and Massachusetts College of Art. There she studied art history, printmaking, and fashion design before opening her studio in 1998. Since that time she has been building one of a kind garments for discerning clients nationwide.