Bridal Gown Designer David McCaffrey

David McCraffrey is the principal designer and creative director of McCaffrey Haute Couture

David McCraffrey is the principal designer and creative director of McCaffrey Haute Couture 

Words By Heather Seftel-Kirk  |  Photos by MIV Photography

 

Every little girl, at one time or another, dreams about her wedding day. When we are young the dream paints us as princesses, all eyes on us as we make our way down the aisle to the prince we have been waiting for. Then we grow up and some of the dream fades away and many of us stop believing we can really be princesses. Enter David McCaffrey of McCaffrey Haute Couture and the dream is revived.

Renowned in Ottawa, McCaffrey Haute Couture has been located on Sussex Drive, across from the American Embassy, for the past 15 years. With large windows facing onto both Sussex and Clarence, the boutique often draws the interest of passers-by as they gaze in at the dream creations showcased within. Beautiful, elegant and luxurious, they hint at romance, fantasy and elegance, and remind many of their girlhood dreams. The boutique itself is quiet, modest and welcoming, much like designer and creative director David McCaffrey.

From its early beginnings McCaffrey was inspired to learn as much as he could about the industry. Driving everywhere, he spoke with boutique owners, stylists and brides to find out what people wanted in weddings dresses, what they would buy and what they absolutely didn’t want. Returning to Ottawa he would redesign his own styles to reflect what he had learned. He studied fabrics, laces and crystals, selecting only the best in the world. He assembled a team of local seamstresses, extremely talented and skilled at working with the fine materials he would use to bring his ideas to life. The result was that McCaffrey became a name people turned to for beautiful and quality haute couture wedding gowns.

The Sashay wedding gown is designed with a 100% silk shantung fitted bodice, sweetheart neckline and a flowing  flared skirt in sand taffeta and blush duchess with accenting handmade organza flowers, feathers and a peek-a-boo tulle underlay.

The Sashay wedding gown is designed with a 100% silk shantung fitted bodice, sweetheart neckline and a flowing flared skirt in sand taffeta and blush duchess with accenting handmade organza flowers, feathers and a peek-a-boo tulle underlay.

While McCaffrey scoured the world learning and seeking information about what the industry wanted, what soon began to fall behind was what he wanted. Three years ago McCaffrey decided it was time to change all that. Now, instead of driving across the country, you’ll most often find him exactly where he wants to be, in his shop on Sussex helping brides fulfill their dream. “I decided I wanted to focus on quality, rather than quantity. I want to be here to develop a relationship with my clients, to be accountable for what the boutique does, and to be part of making them happy.”

That McCaffrey is intuitive about people and finds satisfaction in making every bride-to-be feel confident and wonderful is abundantly clear. He fondly recalls many people he has worked with in the past, their stories, their ceremonies and the dresses he created to help them feel absolutely spectacular.

Working primarily by appointment, McCaffrey will never have more than one bride at a time in his boutique. This allows him to give one hundred percent to his client; gives him time to understand what she really wants, and the bride-to-be time to explore and discover. Many styles of dress are available in the shop so clients can try on a variety of looks and forms to find the one to suit them best. Preferring not to be fooled by what he calls eye-candy, clients try on simple dresses, so both he and they can focus on finding the perfect silhouette to work best for them. “All women are made by God in a certain way, with different angles and curves that are beautiful. By looking at a woman’s silhouette you are looking for what is going to make her stand out and feel wonderful.”

Once a shape and style has been chosen, only then will McCaffrey think about adding the details – the lace, beadwork or Swarovski crystals – to finish off the dress. “I want my brides to feel beautiful so they exude confidence and can really shine for who they are. They will never be more beautiful than on this very special day. I want my dress to bring out all that is amazing and lovely about them so people say wow, look at her, not, wow, look at that dress.”

Once a dress has been decided upon, the materials are ordered – the silk directly from mills in Italy and the lace from specifically chosen mills in France – and the process of measuring and fitting begins. Unlike buying a dress off the rack, which must then be tailored to fit the bride, McCaffrey’s dresses are sewn from the start to fit the specific measurements of the women who will wear them. And, while off the rack dresses may seem a better deal on first glance, they often do not include the price of the alterations needed to make the dress wearable. A piece of advice he gives to future brides: make sure you fully understand what you are buying; what the price entails; and that you compare apples to apples. McCaffrey’s dresses range in price from $2,500 to $15,000 but he says most people can walk away with a phenomenal dress for between $3,000-$4,000, including the work of final fittings and adjustments, some of which may be needed even days before the wedding.

“We had one bride who picked up her dress weeks before the wedding because she wanted it early. Then I got a panicked call from her a few days before the wedding because she had tried it on ‘one more time’ and found she had lost weight and it no longer fit right. She flew in from out of town; we got her in and made it all right.”

McCaffrey says his goal is to treat every bride with dignity and respect – like a princess – as she prepares for her special day. “Weddings, having babies – these are really important milestones in people’s lives. There is a real sense of goodness in being able to make brides happy and help them fulfill this life event. It is an honour to be part of it all.”

David McCaffrey also designs evening and cocktail wear.  Shown  is the Paschera cocktail dress. The Paschera is a 100% silk shantung pleated fan-shaped flared and layered dress with plunging scoop neckline and multi-coloured organza underlay.

David McCaffrey also designs evening and cocktail wear. Shown is the Paschera cocktail dress. The Paschera is a 100% silk shantung pleated fan-shaped flared and layered dress with plunging scoop neckline and multi-coloured organza underlay.

 

McCaffrey’s other goal is to give every client the haute couture experience many will only have this one special time in their lives. “From the moment they walk in until the moment they leave with their dress, I want them to experience perfection. They will receive high-class service, the highest quality elements to create the dress of their dreams, and my personal attention to detail to make sure it is exactly what they want.”

As far as designs, McCaffrey’s designs are varied but all carry one important commonality: they all feature elements designed to flatter what makes women beautiful. And, though there are certainly many different options to choose from, he says many dresses that leave the shop are actually a combination of elements taken from several different pieces. “When I’m working with each bride I want her to feel as good as she looks. I want her to be confident in who she is and with what she’s wearing.” McCaffrey says he may take the skirt from one design, the waistline from another, the bodice from something different, depending on what suits each particular bride, to create a look that is totally flattering to her in every way. Each McCaffrey creation includes a built-in corset for superior comfort and confidence and a signature ‘something blue’ ribbon woven into each.

Despite the available collection to provide guidelines, there is nothing McCaffrey can’t or hasn’t done, including black; red; blue; long; short; zip away to take a long to a short. Speaking of taking a long to a short….. In some cases McCaffrey has had brides come back to him after the wedding, to have their gown remade into a special occasion dress they can actually wear again. Rather than tucking her special dress into a box in the basement for a future daughter who may or may not come along, or who may or may not wish to wear her mother’s dress, many brides are deciding to reclaim their fantasy gowns and make them into new dreams.

McCaffrey is passionate about his work and committed to his clients. He is clearly confident and assured of his ability, but in a way that is natural and unaffected. “I have confidence in my designs and what I do. I am at a good place in my life; I have a good connection to God; I spend a lot of time outdoors and that gives me peace and inspiration to make each of my brides beautiful and confident.”For more information, visit www.mccaffreyhautecouture.com

 

 

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Category: Bridal Gowns, Bridesmaids, Evening Wear, Past Issues

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