How It's Made: Pleating Factory Shoot

At our first shoot in San Fransisco in September of 2016 our hair and make up artist, Lauren saw the WILLOW GOWN and was like "whoa, that fabric is so cool! Does it come all pleated like that?" In our heads we were like are you serious?!?! But more respectfully answered our dear friend "no, we had it pleated like that actually" and went on to explain the process. 

That conversation got us thinking about how most of our brides probably don't know the process of how their gowns are made. Sure, sure the gowns are made in SF and LA but what does that even mean and who is actually doing the work?! When Travis J wanted to do a shoot in LA we knew exactly the location.  We brought our models and photographer to the pleating factory in Down Town Los Angeles and did an editorial shoot so you could get a sneak peak of the magic behind the gowns.  

Out of all the designing, sourcing, pattern making, and fittings, we spent the MOST time perfecting the pleating you see on the WILLOW GOWN and EBONY GOWN. When we first designed these two gowns we had no idea what we would learn. First off, we had no idea that pleating is a pretty lost art. We did a lot of research and found that there are only three factories left in the United States that specialize in pleating like this. All techniques are done by hand or the fabric is run through specialty industrial pleating machines. The fabric is fed through the machine with paper which creates a pattern so that exact pleat can be duplicated if needed. That's what the millions of rolls are that you'll see in the back ground of the photos. These beautiful machines are no longer made, in fact the last of them were made in the late 1970's. Just for fun here is a link to a few Google images where you can see what these machines are capable of doing! Be amazed. 

After 4 months of trial and error we decided on a broomstick pleat (which requires a lot of hands - see video below!) for the body of the gowns and a nice tiny crystal pleat for the top 13 inches or so as to keep the neckline and bodice nicely fitted and flattering. After the dress was complete we steamed out the bottom to get the train as flowy as can be. Going back with the finished gowns was especially fun because the employees hardly ever get to see a finished product made from the fabrics they spend so much time treating and perfecting. They were elated! Building relationships with them has been truly rewarding.  

So without further ado, a little video and the photos:

Models: Joy Bishop, Aminat Odunbaku, & Lindsay Schimmer who all did a brilliant job at styling themselves. Florals: Freckle Farm Flowers.

Much love, 

Jann Marie and Kelly