Texas Society Diaries Feature July-August 2016

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ARTICLE TEXT BELOW

TAILOR MADE

San Antonioʼs Angelina Mata Creates Bridal Gown Magic

By Ellie Leeper Morrison

For local San Antonio bridal gown expert Angelina Mata, personalized
fashion design is a calling. In fact, her life’s mission is to develop substantial
relationships with her clients in pursuit of the perfect design for each
individual. In a fickle fashion industry saturated with mass-manufactured
products, Mata loves giving her clients the unique luxury of hand-sewn
tailored clothing. To achieve this, she balances both her and her clients’
goals, striking a mutual vision which yields the perfect one-of-a-kind gown
that make women feel like the belle of the ball.
When a bride-to-be wants to re-purpose a family heirloom wedding gown
into her dream dress, Mata is known as the go-to tailor. Recently, drawing
inspiration from Princess Kate Middleton’s gown, Mata blends classic
with contemporary to create the best of both for each garment. “There
is a challenge in taking a vintage style and transitioning it into a more
contemporary look,” says Mata. “You must decide what to leave and what
to take away, in order not to damage the integrity of the design. Discard
what ages the dress, and keep the design features that make it timeless.”
Mata has always had creative interests, but her path to founding an atelier
came later in life. She started her style career as a hairstylist first and
foremost. She recalls, “I had a retail store in King William inside of the
hair salon, yet at 38 I gave up hair to become a fashion designer.” With
training in the technical aspects of tailoring, her creative vision is entirely
self-taught. She never apprenticed, instead jumping right into bringing her
own designs to live. Her style has evolved over time as she has incorporates
new techniques, finishes and fabrics. In fact, she only works with natural
fibers in her atelier, in order to off er the very best quality materials. Due
to increase in demand, Mata is now designing seven dresses per month
and this lengthy four-to-six month process includes the consultation,
sourcing the fabrics, meeting several times to show the client the sourcing,
creating a muslin pattern, and the final garment construction.
Recently, Mata designed my own gown for my wedding day. The process involved
a laborious restoration in which she brought my grandmother’s original
dress, made in 1954, back to life. Worn several times by family members since
1954, the initial efforts were focused on cleaning the dress. “There are different
techniques used to clean a dress depending on the strength of the fabric and the
discoloration,” shares Mata. “In the instance of Ellie’s dress, the cleaning was all
done by hand. The dress was washed by hand and dried in the natural sunlight
to help lighten the fibers without using any harsh chemicals.” After cleaning the
gown, Mata worked on extending its torso for a more comfortable fit. She added
boning to the bodice to give it proper support, making the dress more fitted.
She then added new lace in place of the original fragile lace sleeves, refreshing
the materials while keeping true to the era of the dress. “We had to replace the
sleeves and add the bodice by using new lace and creating a higher neckline,”
recounts Mata. “The original dozens of faced buttons also were replaced with
new lace.” The final step of the restoration of Ellie’s gown was to incorporate the
layers of lace and satin, finishing off the revitalized custom piece.
To complement the ensemble, I wore my grandmother’s original crown that was
made along with the original dress. Over the years, the delicate pieces had been
damaged, so to return the headpiece to its original, royal grandeur, each crystal
was secured with metal anchors and each small rhinestone was reattached to the
base. Once restored, Mata made a new veil with silk tulle and attached it to the
crown for a light and wispy look. So that nothing would happen to my dress while
dancing at the reception, Mata handmade me an original contemporary reception
dress that completed my traditional-meets-contemporary wedding theme. This
entire process took a year from start to finish, but the final product was worth it.
Angelina Mata’s work has created quite a buzz, and she is currently in
the process of designing two wedding gowns for two different weddings in
Europe. To learn more about Mata’s ready-to-wear and couture collections,
visit AngelinaMata.com.

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