I first saw Alison Dahl Kelly’s beautiful designs while searching on Etsy for blush coloured dresses, and I favourited her shop tout de suite. I contacted Alison about a full feature because one or two dresses in a treasury just wasn’t enough to show you her talent and range. There’s something for everyone what with the array of shades, lengths, styles and influences. You’ve got short and youthful, and you’ve got vintage nods, you’ve got floral and whimsical, and you’ve got goddess. You’ll be sure to find your dress at Dahl NYC.
Each of Alison’s dresses are handmade, one at a time, which is so special in the age of the mass-produced and throwaway. Cue a drum roll here because Alison designed and made her own wedding gown, seven different bridesmaids’ dresses and three flower girl dresses for her wedding day. I’m just floored when people have done this because I found it a challenge to even make our orders of service!! This feat of kitting everyone out became the thing that jumpstarted a new collection:
It had struck me that wedding attire can be incredibly meaningful and personal, and that we don’t all fit into the traditional bridal moulds of style and aesthetic. At the same time, what was available to brides seemed either homogeneous and stuffy or totally stunning, but way out of the average girl’s price range.
I asked Alison a few questions:
WOW: What’s your tip for choosing a dress?
Alison: I would highly recommend making appointments at two or three bridal salons, for example, an upscale salon, a vintage or second hand salon, and an indie or smaller salon that carries some handpicked selections. Try on a few different silhouettes and see what you like. That strapless princess dress with boning and miles of gathered tulle may look stunning on the rack, but it may look very different on. I just did this with a friend, and every gown she put on reaffirmed her desire for a sheath gown with a train. And it’s fun! I also recommend taking a look in your closet and studying your favourite garments – what is it about them you love? Keep that in mind when choosing your gown, and go with what you feel your best in, not what you think is right.
WOW: What inspires your designs?
Alison: I would say textiles are the driving source of inspiration. I’m forever using muted silks in a range of pastels, soft vintage lace, swishy tulle, and I hand dye fabrics for that special touch. I’m less trend-driven and more enchanted by vintage silhouettes, especially from the ’20s-’40s. I’m someone who isn’t afraid to dress up, and I find so much expression and personality in clothing. I live in Dahl dresses, and sometimes use an occasion to create a new silhouette – for a friend’s wedding in California, or date night, or a day dress. I try to incorporate romantic and whimsical accents into my dresses. I’d like to think that I’m not only creating a dress but a mood… A mood that is at once nostalgic and modern. I strive to make dresses with a lived-in feel, or at least look a bit vintage-y, to seem like they have a past or a story to tell.