Home People Meet Bloem’s Dream Dress Designer… Stanley Baptiste

Meet Bloem’s Dream Dress Designer… Stanley Baptiste

You’ve said The Big Yes, and now you’re looking for something whimsical, magical and downright drool-worthy for The Big Day; then look no further than Stanley Baptiste. Here Stanley tells his intriguing story about how he became the go-to man for magnificent gowns – not only for traditionalists, but also for the modern and slightly irreverent bride-to-be.

I grew up in Bloemfontein where I attended an all-boys school – rugby-dominated Grey College. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my school career it was rather restrictive for a creatively minded person, but fortunately, my passion endured.

I’ve been told that I’ve always had a great fascination with fashion and fabrics and this was seen at a very young age. My earliest memories are of me crawling under the church benches and admiring the lace trimmed edge on ladies’ petticoats. Attending a wedding as a child was one of the biggest highlights for me – I would walk up to the bride, examine her, ask her to lift her skirt so that I could see her wedding shoes. I also always had a naughty inclination of wanting to stand on her train… but that’s a story for another day!

I started creating garments during my high school years. My mother couldn’t really sew and when she realised my fascination with clothing she granted me a wish for my birthday – I could select fabrics, as dictated by a commercial pattern that I got to choose. It was a 1950s ball gown – my first chiffon creation… but with this great gift came responsibility. I had to go for sewing classes at a local seamstress… and so my holidays were consumed… and I was in love.

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I recall the story of earning my first rands… my parents, at the time of my graduation were willing to gift a contribution towards a sewing machine… the amount they placed on the table unfortunately was not sufficient to pay for the machine I had in mind; so, as a student, I had to make a plan. I was wearing a pink pinstripe waistcoat I made and someone bought it off my back and placed an order for two more. Then a friend wanted me to make her two dresses and so the ball started rolling. In time, I had enough money to make my machine purchase and, although more machines have entered my life over time, I still sew on that very machine to this day.

When it comes to selecting one’s designer of choice for an important garment, it is important to do research on the specific designer. Ask yourself if you relate to the designer’s signature look and feel, and once you have full trust in your designer, make your choice and allow them the freedom to create the dream and vision you have in mind. I always tell my clients that you are present in a consultation, so communicate clearly, pinpoint certain things during the fitting process, but once the garment reaches a specific point it’s time to wrap things up and complete the process and not to continually want to recreate the entire process. Trust, move forward and go for it – it’s an incredible experience to have something custom-made and it should be considered as a wonderful story that takes place in your personal history.

Wedding dress trends now are higher necklines (but still open backs), puffy constructed sleeves and asymmetrical gowns, but I feel a bridal gown is successful (and this often shows on a bride’s face) when the style is a personal extension of who and what the bride is, and not a dictated trend. This is often achieved in having one’s gown custom-made as every element has been chosen to play its specific part in the complete design… it shows true personality.

I’m often asked why I’ve remained in Bloemfontein. I have an established name here and there’s a supportive community who often return for their garments.

I have a great love for what I do and could not imagine doing anything else. I always had the feeling that this career chose me – I didn’t choose it… it came to me as if it had always been a part of me.

You’ve said The Big Yes, and now you’re looking for something whimsical, magical and downright drool-worthy for The Big Day; then look no further than Stanley Baptiste. Here Stanley tells his intriguing story about how he became the go-to man for magnificent gowns – not only for traditionalists, but also for the modern and slightly irreverent bride-to-be.

“Depending on the type of wedding, there are certain rules that dictate what shades one should and shouldn’t wear to avoid offending anyone. Sometimes an invitation will request guests to wear a certain shade or colour. Traditionally white, ivory and cream are shades left for the exclusive use of the bride; however, now one could ask what is expected to be worn as a guest. Invitations sometimes state the dress code. Research what it means to be dressed appropriately – be it black tie, white tie, cocktail or something a bit more informal. Remember to have fun with your wardrobe and enjoy the process of achieving your final look… and always make an effort!” – Stanley Baptiste

  1. Blush/sand tea length dress, bra cup cut, with lace appliqué and pearl/crystal beading- R16 800

  1. Deep V champagne beaded, fishtail bridal gown, including veil- R38 000

  1. Black and flesh puffy three quarter dress with hand beading and lace appliqué- R16 800

  1. Puffy pink tulle gown-excluding jacket – R34 000 including jacket – R40 000

Details: Stanley Baptiste at 082 059 6535 or [email protected]

Text: MARGARET LINSTRÖM

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