If you're a bride searching for an authentic, vintage wedding dress, you've likely run into a few challenges. Where can you find a romantic, nostalgic gown that perfectly fits your bohemian vision, but isn't out-of-date? And, once you've found the dress of your dreams, how do you alter it to fit your body, without damaging or compromising the fabric and original design? Luckily, Bridgette Morphew and Jason Lyon, co-founders of the vintage label Morphew, had both of those questions in mind when they began salvaging and redesigning vintage pieces and fabrics into contemporary eveningwear and wedding dresses.
Their motto? Take "something old" (and damaged, or unusable) and transform it into "something new." The result? Bespoke wedding dresses that are undeniably vintage in fabrication—but modern and fashion-forward in design. We asked Bridgette and Jason to walk us through their process, from sourcing and designing to everything in between.
Where did the idea for Morphew start?
The Morphew label was born out of Bridgette's original venture, Paradox Designs, a vintage archive of 5,000 curated designs that inspires the couture elite, season after season. "We've worked with Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, and Valentino—all of the top brands," explained Bridgette. "They buy for inspiration, so they can communicate their designs and ideas to their factory." Bridgette and Jason launched their retail line, Morphew, in 2013, to make vintage accessible to the public. "Anyone can walk into the treasure box, not just the designers," she continued, referring to the company's vintage-stocked showroom, located in New York City's Garment District.
Where do you find the oldest, highest-quality vintage fashion?
The search is best left to the pros, explained Bridgette. "We source our fabrics from all over the world," she said. "Jason and I also go out on buying trips in Europe, because that's where the oldest stuff is." Since many of these centuries-old fabrics are often discolored, delicate, and crumbling, it takes a trained eye to know what will (and won't!) hold up on your big day. It also takes a professional to know what pieces can be saved. "We're talking white and 100 years. Most wedding dresses don't even stay white two hours into the ceremony," joked Jason. "We use a soft soak technique to get yellowed fabric whiter—but not too white! Vintage isn't supposed to be bright white."
How do you take old dresses or fabrics and make them new?
For Bridgette and Jason, transitioning vintage fabrics into contemporary creations isn't about eliminating the antique qualities. "Most of the dress is original, but it's updated," explained Jason. "We'll look at a dress and change the shape, or change the hemline, or get rid of the sleeves, or add a sleeve. You still get a Victorian vibe—but you're also wearing a design with a 21st-century open back." It's about giving old, damaged pieces, a "new life," he added. "I really like to reiterate that we only rework pieces that are unwearable."
What draws contemporary brides to Morphew?
For brides on the vintage wedding dress hunt, Bridgette and Jason warned that even if the gown is perfectly preserved, it likely won't fit most women's figures. "Bodies are just shaped differently. Women are healthier and stronger today. Everyone does yoga and excercises," said Jason. A Morphew dress, however, still has "the romance of being one of a kind," but was also redesigned with the modern woman's body (not used to the restraints of a corset) in mind. Also noteworthy is the line's inherently modern, trend-inspired core—think lots of sexy necklines, cut-outs, and ruffles. "We're designers. We have to do trend research for Paradox, our consulting company, so we're constantly researching trends so we know what to bring to market. From there, it trickles down to us, at Morphew," Bridgette said.
What are a few trends we'll see next season?
Since Morphew was born out of a vintage collection, Bridgette and Jason like to say that they are "making the vintage" and inspiring the trends of modernity. This is certainly the case, since their designs have most recently been seen on fashion-forward celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Emily Ratajkowski, Rhianna, and Suki Waterhouse. "When we see what our clients are buying or gravitating to, we follow that trend," said Bridgette. "We create trends, too." As for what we can expect on the bridal fashion week runways of the future? "Lots of metal—think lamé fabrics, metal mesh, metal embroidery, and metal lace," said Jason. "Also keep an eye out for tulle, netting, and super-high slits. The higher the better."