Mai Atafo – ChoosingThe Ultimate Dress
While you may have envisioned your dream wedding dress, as far back as, when you were a teenager, when it comes to making the special gown, how do you pick the right wedding dress that fit and flatter your body type? We consulted one of Nigeria’s leading designers, Mai Atafo , who is Aer, who has a passion for making women look and feel fabulous, served up expert tips on finding the ultimate dress, as well as, his experience over the years working for brides.
When a would-be bride comes to you for a wedding dress but she doesn’t have anything in mind, what are the things you look out for?
The first thing I take into consideration is her body type. I look at what she thinks she wants to wear or would wear, or what she wouldn’t like to wear. l try to see if what she has In mind fits her body type. If it doesn’t, I try to make her understand and pick something for her that will fit her body type. I also make her understand why what she wants is not possible or, why it’s perfect; and why she shouldn’t look at some other person’s body type to choose a design. Whatever she picks it should be chosen with her own body type in mind.
What if she insists on a particular style?
You have to make her understand that if she wants this dress, it may not look good on her, but if she insists, I might be forced to make it for her. If at the end it doesn’t look good, then she understands that she insisted on it.’ Not everyone can be Beyonce . You cannot bring Beyonce’s picture and say you want something like that. Some people are in denial ,and some people do not even know any better. That is why consultation is more important than making the dress itself, because if you get the consultation wrong, you make the wrong dress. If you get it right, you make the right dress.
How long should a bride wait before picking out a dress?
I think once you choose a wedding date, the next thing is to pick out the dress. It is very important so that you have enough time to make any sort of adjustments that may arise. If it has handwork, or hand beading, there will be enough time to do it. Again, the more time you have, the cheaper the dress can be.
What are the challenges associated with working for brides?
I think the greatest challenge is, a lot of brides are not realistic about what they want. Many of them want certain things that their body won’t fit into or they want a certain kind of dress that they do not have the budget for . Those are basically the challenges in the job.
What is the trend for bridal dresses now?
I don’t think anything has changed so much. What people are doing is what they have been doing. More and more mermaid gowns, Nigerian brides love mermaid gowns a lot. What happens now is that they play more with the kind of lace they use. Some People now do properly made hand appliqué on their dresses, which is now becoming a huge trend. The fabrics are becoming more and more interesting.
What fabrics work better for bridal dresses?
The fabrics used are all the right ones. I think the most important thing is to get the right fabric for a particular style. You should know what fabric works for what style, and once you are able to achieve that, then there is no problem. However, if one fabric doesn’t work for a particular style, it can work for another. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other. It could be richer than the other, with the lace or hand beading. But people are different; some do not want hand beading, but a plain wedding dress. So I don’t think one is preferred to the other.
How many times should a would-be bride go for fittings before the final dress is done?
For as many times as she wants. For instance, if she wants to come for fitting ten times, I will be happy to do it; so that we can get it right.
But, I will do a minimum of two fittings; to me that is just ideal. When you make the first fitting, usually, the dress is not quite done yet, but by the second fitting the dress is about 80% done. However, if I have the chance, I want to do it when it is a hundred percent done. After that we can try it on again with her accessories. If she wants to wear a corset underneath, we can see it to see how it looks. She should even wear with her shoes as well, to see how comfortable it is. I could even decide which angles you should take pictures from. What to do and not do with the dress.
How has it been over the years working with brides?
It has been great; every bride has her own special requirements. When bride’s come in with what they have in mind for their big day, it’s always quite interesting interacting with them. It feels very good to be a part of it.
By Yemisi Suleiman