Designing a Custom Wedding Dress with Anomalie

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


If you follow me on instagram, you probably know that I said "yes to the dress" unexpectedly a few months ago (not to the above pictured). After getting engaged and spending what felt like an eternity on Pinterest, I started with the company Anomalie to create a custom dress option. I even had a sketch finalized when I went dress shopping and found "the one". I wanted to write a ~not so brief~ review of my Anomalie experience for anyone interested in exploring that route!

I was incredibly nervous but also very excited about the idea of a custom dress. Just the word custom makes anything sound expensive, but one of the main selling points for Anomalie was that because they are not a boutique or one specific designer/brand, they are able to avoid the high markups that their competitors see. As an intrinsically creative person and bargain hunter, this idea was very appealing. I liked that I would have the opportunity to be involved in the process and that it would be one-of-a-kind.

On a whim I signed up for a free design consultation. I figured I would at the very least just see what they have to offer and get a price quote so I could keep an Anomalie dress as an option. At that point I had already extensively researched numerous bridal boutiques, the lines they carried, and explored what a dress within my vision might cost me. I simply could not imagine shelling out thousands of dollars for a dress I would only be wearing once. I was also apprehensive to gather my friends and family, who all live in different locations, to go dress shopping when there was a good chance I may not find something I love.
When talking to my mother, I related the feeling of wedding dress shopping to that of searching for the right pair of jeans. You may find the pair that's in the right shade and makes your ass look incredible. Or, you may sift through countless options and leave feeling a little discouraged. 
I knew bridal boutiques would be filled with gorgeous gowns, many of which I may have liked, but I wasn't positive I could find something in my vision. On my guiding wish list I knew that I wanted the dress to be strapless or off-shoulder - so I could wear my hair down - and preferably with an asymmetrical neckline element, white-white in color, focus on texture, and a long train. Simple, right? I also had a list of things I didn't want: beading, sweetheart neckline, lace, and straps - all of which eliminated a good chunk of what was in stores.

My main photos for inspiration were this Lela Rose design from her Fall 2014 collection and Jessica Biel's white gown by Ralph & Russo that she wore to the Emmy's in 2018. The third photo is a ruffled hem ball gown that is less practical in design, but I love. The fourth was another ruffle skirt detail that was a little more realistic, but I wasn't feeling connected to having a slit in the dress.



This was the first sketch I received back from Anomalie and to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I knew I wanted a simple/clean look and while this dress accomplishes that, it didn't include the ruffle detail I was vying for. After getting a look at this sketch I also felt that the under/main part of the dress may look more flattering in a fit and flare as opposed to its current a-line shape. We also decided to make the skirt removable so I could have both the dramatic train and the ease of dancing without a bustle later in the evening.



In the meantime of waiting for my second sketch, I received my fabric swatches. Anomalie send six different options. I told them I wanted white-white (not for any sentimental purpose, I just am a little OCD about color). They sent me all organza options which, in hindsight, was not the right fit for my style. Eventually they ended up sending a second batch of more silk / polyester mikado type fabrics that ended up working better and even was the fabric of the dress I purchased.

My mother lives in Emerald Isle which was about a three hour drive from where I lived at the time in Chapel Hill. Getting together to plan the bigger details had been a challenge thus far, so I chose to have the fabric shipped to her house and picked up some cake options from our baker in Raleigh for her to taste. I was worried that a custom dress would rob us of the "say yes to the dress" moment, but we really did have a great time sifting through inspiration photos, discussing details of the first sketch, and picking out fabrics together! It was still an exciting experience even without putting a dress on.
THE FINAL PRODUCT
While I did end up purchasing another dress, I absolutely loved this final product we created. The removable skirt provided two different looks - silk covered buttons down the elongated train - ruffle slit detail - off-shoulder neckline. When it came down to deciding another direction, it came down to price and confidence. We simply found "the one" at a slightly more affordable price point - I couldn't turn it down.

Financial transparency: After discussing my desired details on our consultation call, I was quoted at $1550. I was required to put down 25% to begin the sketching process. I got 100% of my money back as I had not given "final approval" on any sketch they sent me within their design dashboard. My dress never began production, however, you can still get your money back even it is fully complete / at your door. Make sure you read their policies!

I did have some apprehension during the process of working with Anomalie. They are a newer, rapidly growing company and of course, there are issues they deal with because of that. I personally found it odd that you're never talking directly with the person who is making your dress - not even the person who is sketching it. As I experienced, there were often details lost in translation. You speak to a salesperson who then speaks with a sketch artist who then gives your finalized sketch and measurements to a seamstress who creates the product.

The good thing is that if you have a photo of exactly what you want - they can most likely pull it off. The bad thing is that these photos of are dresses that already exist and were carefully designed by hardworking individuals. As someone who has experienced legal issues with intellectual property, I didn't know how I felt about a company taking other dresses or designs and creating a knock-off. For example, I found these two photos (left). On the left side is a photo of the Willowby by Watters "Orion" gown and on the right is the Anomalie version created much later. Although I ended up with an Anomalie design I loved and would have been comfortable ordering, I feel like my experience was a little discouraging because I didn't want to just take another design, I truly wanted something unique. I didn't feel like my vision was heard and it ultimately lead to a lengthier process.

Despite the fact that I found my dress elsewhere and that I had apprehensions about the process with Anomalie, I would still recommend them as an option for brides who are searching for their dress. Every bride deserves to have the wedding of their dreams - finding your wedding dress is a big portion of that! With the current social distancing policies in place, this option may be great for brides who are ready to shop but unable to under CDC and local guidelines. Below are some of the sketches from our revision process - my favorite being the simple strapless with asymmetrical neckline! I hope this was helpful for those determining which steps to take next and CANNOT wait to share my real dress with you all after our big day!