September 1, 2015
Every Girl’s Dream
In the seaside town of Mudjimba, Marilyn Crystelle sits at her sewing machine, turning a bride’s fairytale dreams into a romantic reality. Now this award-winning bridal wear designer is sought-after by brides across the globe, Carly Smith unveils the magic behind her designs.
Like any girl, I dreamed of walking down the aisle to the rhythm of a beautiful dress swishing to and fro, as I Will Always Love You echoed in the background. This year it was finally my turn, I had found my prince charming and we had set a date, now it was the difficult and stressful task of navigating my way through a maze of tulle, lace, chiffon and silk gleaming in whites, off-whites, ivories and champagnes.
Little did I know I had another beautiful surprise in the making and shortly after I found a dress, I was blessed with the news I was expecting my first child. But then the panic set in, I needed a dress, I needed a custom-made dress to fit my new blossoming body and needed my dressmaker to be flexible. Then I met Marilyn Crystelle and she was everything I dreamed of in a designer.
The bridal wear designer works in her humble home in the seaside community of Mudjimba – with dresses lining her hallway and pins and materials draped over the furniture in her studio, Marilyn lives and breathes all things beautiful and bridal.
It is certainly rewarding in the way you see people’s dreams come to life in their wedding dress.”
Marilyn embarked on business when she became a mother and started up at home eight years ago and has since hit the forefront for young brides-to-be, not only here on the Coast, but across the world – even more so since her win with the mesmerising Clarissa gown at the Queensland Bridal Design Awards (which appeared on the cover of Profile Magazine in February).
Marilyn took out the couture section and wowed overall with the Grand Prize Supreme Award, while also being named as runner up for the People’s Choice award.
“It was totally unexpected, I had entered only the one dress and I had never entered before,” says Marilyn.
“I was contemplating whether I should even do that as I was up against the top of the trade, so to walk away with three prizes was very overwhelming.”
Now, it seems everyone wants their very own Clarissa gown or a custom-made design, with brides from overseas and interstate flying to the region to have their dream dress made during a holiday.
“I love working with brides individually because you can work through the process from the sketch to the finished garment, but I also love designing for my couture range which I am generally inspired by the fabrics I am able to source,” says Marilyn.
From the moment she set herself up in front of a sewing machine at seven-years-of-age, Marilyn knew her heart was always going to be in fashion. Like myself, she dreamed of glamorous gowns and fairy tale weddings so it was no surprise she was drawn to create bridal fashion.
It was always bridal, I always knew that bridal was what I wanted to do and it was what I was drawn to.”
“I was encouraged by my aunty and my grandmas to create outfits during the school holidays from a young age,” remembers Marilyn.
“I made my first wedding dress for a client when I was 14, not a family friend or a friend, an actual client. It has always been bridal, I always knew bridal was what I wanted to do and it was what I was drawn to.”
And that first wedding dress was just the beginning for this talented young designer and from her later teenage years she successfully entered the industry where she worked with a reputable local bridal wear designer for five years until she became senior machinist.
Marilyn then moved into the retail and alterations scene for a number of years before her first child Joey and Marilyn Crystelle Bridal was born.
At one of my dress fittings with Marilyn, she joked she better start sending out invoices soon as she often got so carried away with the designing and creation process.
For Marilyn, money is a bonus, what makes it all worthwhile is being in the forefront of a bride’s mind on their big day because their dress was perfect.
“Quite often on a Sunday, I wake up to a text from a bride saying, ‘I love my dress,’ from her wedding the day before,” says Marilyn.
“Obviously to have had me on their mind the next day is really special.
“Everyone is an individual and has had my heart and soul put into their dress from the initial consultation. It is certainly rewarding in the way you see people’s dreams come to life in their wedding dress.”
Marilyn spends anywhere from six to 38 hours on a dress design, with the help of her fashion side kicks – a machinist and hand sewer. If the fabric is doing all the talking for a dress it can be made to perfection in as little as six to 10 hours, meanwhile the dresses with extreme detailing can take up a full week – like her Clarissa gown.
It wasn’t surprising to hear that a woman surrounded by the wedding industry found herself married to her true love at 20-years-of-age.
After creating countless wedding dresses while working for another designer at the time, it was finally her turn. It was everything that embodies Marilyn as a designer and her talent shone through with a waisted silk dupioni in pale pink with a heavily embellished beaded bodice and a massive full skirt. It was very much fit for a princess.
“It was what I always wanted from day dot, it was the style I was going to have and even now I think I would still have the same style,” says Marilyn.
“The style dimensions of Clarissa are very similar to my wedding dress but it is a modernised version of my gown.
“Today I love Clarissa, but each gown I create I fall in love with.
“You think you couldn’t love something more but you always find something different.”
The love of designing is now firmly embedded into her five-year-old daughter Naomi’s mind too as she loves to help out Mummy in her studio.
“Naomi is my little shadow who is constantly watching what I am doing, she has her own little sewing machine and we are making a little dress for her at the moment and she is spoilt in that way,” says Marilyn.
“She is allowed any scraps from the bin and on the floor and creating her own styles on the mannequin.”
It sounds like the business is in safe hands.