Brett was a designer from the very beginning, creating fashion-forward outfits for her cat at the young age of 6. Now her résumé reads like a "who's who" of bridal design. After graduating summa cum laude from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, she went to work as a design assistant to couturiers Atelier de Modistes and Jacqueline De Bray. That experience gave Brett a taste for the technical side (as in design and production) of clothing. After a turn in some bigger corporations--Joe Boxer and Esprit--Brett returned to North Carolina in 2000 to start her own business. Turns out this NC native likens her design business, Deirdre Brett Bridal Couture, to much-loved band Zen Frisbee.
StyleMaven: When did you decide to begin designing clothing?
Deirdre Brett: In the ninth grade I wrote my career research paper on fashion design--complete with design sketches. In 10th grade, I, along with my mother and grandmother, designed my prom dress, which was totally '80s!
(StyleMaven to self: Mmh, was probably just in vogue again a couple of seasons ago.)
"In college I decided I wanted to be a molecular biologist, until I actually spent time in the lab for a semester and hated it. So I got a degree in studio art and headed to San Francisco. After a year out West, I got the itch for fashion again and enrolled in FIDM.
How did you start?
In 2000 I returned home to start my own custom bridal and evening wear line. I added my ready-to-wear line, Atelier Blue, in 2002. I've been designing under my name since 2003.
(StyleMaven: And why not? All the greats do--Carolina, Ralph, Lanvin.)
One of my first and favorite commissions was to design two dresses for Katherine Whalen to wear for a Squirrel Nut Zippers tour. She is a very beautiful and interesting woman so it was very inspiring to design for her.
What was your debut collection like?
Very feminine and girly. It was inspired by Sophia Loren in the 1950s. One of my favorite pieces from that line was a strapless dress done in red cotton poplin with floral cutouts.
And the recent look and feel of your line?
Still very feminine, but now sexier rather than girly--in an understated, elegant way. My cuts are designed to flatter the female form. High quality construction is essential. Fabric is also very important to me; I use a lot of silks, wools and fine cottons.
What makes your bridal line unique? I design each dress for a particular bride.
(StyleMaven: Unless you are Melania Trump, the Hiltons or Gwynnie, this is so not the norm.)
I get to know her and design a dress to reflect her personality. Each gown is a one-of-a-kind.
How much input does each bride have in the creation of the gown?
As much or as little as they would like.
(StyleMaven: Brave girl, dealing with brides.)
Of course, a starting point is necessary and most brides come with ideas.
(StyleMaven: Deirdre is emphatic about one thing though--her dresses are originals.)
I don't do knock-offs or copies. A picture is purely for inspiration, not to copy.
Is there a mainstream designer that you liken yourself to?
I don't know if I would liken myself to anyone, but I really admire Valentino, Yves St. Laurent (though he is retired) and Carolina Herrera.
(StyleMaven: A designer after my own heart, as they're all personal faves of mine.)
I love the beautiful, timeless quality of those designers.
What are your inspirations?
I love vintage clothing, especially from the '30s to '60s. Movies, books, music and art also inspire me.
Describe your personal style.
It's a lot like my line--fun, feminine and vintage-inspired, though you wouldn't know it because I end up working in jeans and knit tops. Comfort sometimes wins out over couture.
Any grand plans for the future?
Starting in September I'll be selling my Fall 2005 ready-to-wear line on my website as well as in my shop in Pittsboro. In October, I'm going to NYC to sell my fall line at an event called Girl's Night Out. It's a huge shopping party in the Puck Building with over a 150 vendors, cocktails and fun.
(StyleMaven: Sign me up for that.)
Brides, come early. The design, creation and fittings (four total) take about six months to complete. Prices for gowns range from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on your design and fabrications.
Deirdre Brett Bridal Couture is located at 78 Hillsboro St. in downtown Pittsboro, convenient for blushing brides and burgeoning fashionistas from the Triangle area. Contact Brett at 919-542-6800 or visit her Web site, www.deirdrebrett.com.