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Like many fashion fairytales, the story of Dreamers & Lovers began with the journey of a woman on the hunt for The One. Founded by designer Yanique Barnes, the local bridal label was born from her BFF's wild goose chase of finding the perfect budget-friendly bohemian wedding gown.
"After searching for a wedding dress for my best friend, I found out how traditional and ultra expensive the wedding dress market was," says Barnes. "It did not feel right, and it was frustrating. Not long after, I had the itch to become an entrepreneur."
Three years after leaving her post as a manager at a Chanel boutique, the bridal designer crafts "heirloom quality fabrics all with a yesteryear feel" for brides yearning to think outside of the wallet-busting department store box. Think lacy, Victorian-inspired numbers fit for a modern-day indie bride; dresses range from $615 for a '50s-inspired knee-length lace dress to $1,288 for a jaw-dropping floral embroidered gown with a semi-cathedral train to $1,980 for an Art Deco-inspired, pearl-bedecked dress.
We got to know bridesmaid-turned-designer Barnes and discovered what inspired her to create the line, her design muses, her best advice for brides-to-be, and more.
When did you create the brand?
Dreamers & Lovers was started in summer 2012. It started in my garage, where clients would come by to try on dresses, and get fitted. We have advanced past this phase, and now have our showroom/studio located in Torrance.
What's the Dreamers & Lovers experience like?
We make all of our dresses to the bride's exact measurements, and brides have the option to tweak the design, so if a dress has a cap sleeve, long sleeves could be added, etc. Once the dress is ready, brides have the option of picking it up in the studio, and if alterations are needed we assist with that also at no additional cost. We do not sell to bridal shops, as our clients love our concept of keeping the dresses affordable, while still being custom made.
What were you doing before founding Dreamers & Lovers?
I had been working as a manager for the Chanel boutique on Robertson Boulevard, and on the side was running a successful vintage business on eBay. I resigned from Chanel and kept on selling vintage clothing. It was amazing how many clients were purchasing lace caftans, and other ready-to-wear dresses from my vintage collection to use as their wedding dress. This was my a-ha moment. It was a sign, and Dreamers & Lovers was born.
Who are your design muses?
I am inspired by the women we create for. Our brides are different. They are creatives, independent, they believe in breaking from tradition, and they are comfortable in their own skin. They inspire and challenge me to create meaningful designs to celebrate their love, on one of the most special day of their lives.
From a designer perspective, the house of Chanel is always an inspiration for me. I love that the quality and fit is always at the forefront, and while their designs innovate, they tend to stick to the classics. Chanel jackets from 10 years ago still have a similar silhouette as the one being sold this season. This is how I approach the Dreamers & Lovers line—I like to design pieces that a woman will love 20 years from now. It would be awful to look back on your wedding photos, and wonder, "What was I thinking?"
What's your best advice for brides hunting for wedding dresses?
While it is great to get inspired by photos on Pinterest, it is best to be open-minded and try on a few different styles. What you initially liked may not be the best silhouette for you.