The next step is to bring in her house model, allowing Ms. Lhuillier to see how the fabric moves. “Then I say, ‘OK, I love this’ or ‘Bring it down,’ or ‘I want a different neckline,’ because fit is everything.”
From there, her patternmaker determines how to technically build the dress, which is followed by multiple fittings with her team. “It starts with a muslin and then we start integrating the real fabrics.” Some designs will drop along the way, while multiple others may be combined into a singular design.
Once Ms. Lhuillier approves the draped look, the patternmaker takes all that fabric, marks it and transfers the pattern to paper. Some dress patterns, like the one for “Secret Garden,” a blush, off-the-shoulder, silk organza gown with a textured skirt, can have up to 75 pieces.
The paper pattern is then taken to the cutters to cut the actual fabric, before moving to a bundler who confirms that everything for the corset and the dress is there. The bundler also examines the fabric, “making sure everything is flawless,” according to Ms. Lhuillier.
Then the bundler packages the pieces, which will include everything needed to make the gown, from fabrics to boning, and hands off the bundle to the person who will machine sew the dress, referred to as “the operator.” The dresses are sewn first by machine and later by hand. “Once we have that shape, then we put it on the model again and check the stitching,” Ms. Lhuillier said.
It then moves to the hand-finisher who does all of the handwork, including attaching the embroidery, lace, buttons and hooks.