The average woman will typically purchase special occasion dresses twice in her life: upon her graduation from high school, and for her wedding day. Ever since Queen Victoria walked down the aisle in a flowing white gown to marry Prince Albert in 1840, the colour of choice for the latter has been white.
A white gown is so luxurious. Easily stained and impractical, a white wedding dress (or ivory, or blush, or oyster) is the ultimate occasion frock: you cannot wear it to anything else. Intensely fretted over, there’s a reason they refer to the dress as The Dress. It will often be the only one tailor-made in a woman’s lifetime, an expression of how she wants to look and be remembered as looking, the singular time she will spend lavishly on a clothing item that will be worn for exactly one day. Crammed full of the politics of worship, scorn, and high emotion, the wedding dress can be complicated. And shopping for such a fraught item can be daunting. Mountains of tulle and lace, trains, beads—nothing that feels quite right, but needs to be the rightest right. Perhaps it’s best to dial all that back and start simple, like Gaby Bayona, the mastermind behind Truvelle.
Bayona started sewing in her mother’s bridal shop, Ellebay, then located on New Westminster’s famous bridal row (and now run out of her home studio). Bayona began designing after high school, starting with another milestone garment: the grad dress. She quickly became the face of the shop and started a style blog that soon garnered its own following. Realizing the potential creativity in bridal, she started Truvelle in 2013. She wanted to design beautiful wedding gowns that had the same freedom with colour, material, and silhouette as the grad dresses she was initially creating: simple, flowing, unfussy. When designing, she asks herself an array of questions: What do I want to wear? What is missing in the market? What elements are commonly requested that we do not yet offer? Effortless and beautiful and well crafted. Thanks in part to her old neighbourhood, she had a built-in clientele that followed her to Vancouver, and she became successful almost overnight, with popularity on Etsy and over 30 retailers in North America, South Africa, Australia, and Europe.
It is design without anxiety.
“Truvelle is a play on words from trouvaille, French for ‘something lovely discovered by chance’, and my name, Gabrielle,” she says. It is design without anxiety. Walking into her spacious boutique up a staircase on Cambie Street is not unlike walking into a spa: fresh, clean, relaxed. The displays are simple and minimalist, with expert use of negative space. The choices for shoes, veils, headpieces, and gowns are a handful of each so as to not overwhelm, and represent design heavyweights such as Badgley Mischka. One sees just enough to move, organically, toward the right personal look. Clouds made of baby’s breath hover over the counter space. Leafy laurels line the walls.
Flick slowly through the gowns to find traditional, modern, edgy, girly. Bayona approaches design as a problem-solver and structures each season’s offerings on a pyramid: classics as a foundation, innovation on one side, and an attention-getter on the other. What she enjoys about weddings is the community that springs up around them—it’s not just the dress, but the memories created, and the start of a new family that inspires the need for attention to every detail. The dresses reflect this: intricate beading, hand-stitched lace, and, in the case of one gown, bountiful metallic sequins covering the bottom of a flowing skirt, giving it a regal weight.
Bayona isn’t done with bridal. The 23-year-old is already on to a new company called Laudae, launching this summer. She believes Laudae fills a hole in the market for fitted, Canadian-made, and non-traditional gowns for “carefree” ladies. “Truvelle has already brought Vancouver to the worldwide stage for bridal fashion, and I’m excited to push that awareness even further with the introduction of Laudae,” she says. For now, her gowns echo the weather seen from the big windows and natural light of her shop. Stop in for a chat, a browse, and a little inspiration to fall in love—at least with a dress.
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