Imagine being included in the process of building your dream dress, down to the very last stitch. Shannon Gales of Vue Design has been making this unparalleled experience possible for the last 20 years. After earning her BFA in fashion design from Calvin College, Gales decided to pursue a career specializing in custom bridal gowns. She felt there was a market being overlooked in Grand Rapids, and questioned why girls were traveling to Chicago to find the perfect dress, rather than buying local. With Gales’ new design studio opening in downtown Grand Rapids, finding a high-end custom gown doesn’t require airfare or train tickets.
The process a bride-to-be goes through, when working with Vue Design, is modern and exclusive, with an old-fashioned twist. The relationship begins with a tea party in Vue Design’s contemporary urban studio. Tea and crumpets help to facilitate great conversation, and give Gales the opportunity to understand her clients on a personal level, which is key in executing each individual’s vision appropriately. After a relationship and trust is built, the fabric selection and design process begins. Each bride-to-be is involved with every step from ideation to completion as dreams are brought into reality, while producing each customized gown. Gales also creates custom veils, hair pieces and accessories to provide a complete bridal solution. Vue Design gowns start at $1,250, but–depending on material and pattern–can reach up to $6,000.
The goal is to create a middle market in West Michigan and blend custom couture with affordability. Women tend to either purchase from corporate juggernauts such as David’s Bridal or travel into larger markets in search of higher-end couture like Vera Wang. Vue Design has plans to invent that middle ground and show how local fashion designers in West Michigan can produce exquisite work and remain accessible.
Gales is leading the way to grow the West Michigan fashion industry and she’s doing it by creating a unique niche. More than creating innovative designs and incorporating quality fabrics, Gales is manufacturing her clients’ ideas while facilitating the most unique wedding preparation experiences available. I had the pleasure of witnessing a bride and her mother interact with Shannon during one of the creative sessions/tea parties and honestly it was like a scene out of a movie.
A collection of Vue Design gowns can be viewed on Gale’s website, and you can also find Vue Design on Facebook and Twitter, but I highly recommend visiting her design studio at 40 Monroe Center downtown Grand Rapids. Through the heavily windowed and well-lit space, you can see the sketching, draping and stitching done live!
– Dakota Shayne, Feature Writer
-Dakota Shayne, Feature Writer