Last weekend I was thrilled to be invited to meet Michelle Burke at her new bridal boutique in Galway city, Vintage Pearl Bridal. I spent some time admiring gorgeous authentic vintage gowns as well as some incredible pre-loved dresses and vintage inspired fashion. Michelle took some time out of her busy day to tell me all about her new business and what inspired her to bring vintage bridal fashion to the lovely ladies of Galway and beyond.
This adorable boutique overlooking Dominick Street in Galway opened in November 2014. Michelle had a long career in fashion retail management, and being involved in planning her sister’s wedding a number of years ago as well as planning her own wedding in 2013 piqued her interest in weddings and bridal wear in particular. Her dream to have her own business was finally realised following months of planning and a lucky break when it came to finding the perfect location for the boutique. You simply have to see Michelle’s wedding with its vintage feel and DIY details featured on One Fab Day to fully understand how much this girl loves weddings.
Walking through the door, you are met immediately by a soft light filtering through the sash windows, and a sense of calm. The boutique is home to a selection of incredibly unique, authentic vintage bridal gowns, as well as some new, vintage-inspired designs by Gino Cerruti, the fabulous, flirty fifties style tea dresses from House of Mooshki and a number of pre-loved wedding dresses that are in mint condition. Alongside these precious pieces are cute and quirky Rachel Simpson shoes as well as beautiful headpieces by milliner Emmy McCormick.
I’m drawn immediately to the House of Mooshki dresses; having seen them before online I am a huge fan of their pretty polka dot overlays, nipped-in waistlines and the range of shades from white to blush. Michelle explains that she is one of only two stockists of Mooshki in Ireland, and she loves the customisable nature of these gowns. Mooshki can take the neckline of one, the overlay of another and whatever sleeve length a bride wants to create the perfect custom dress. The House of Mooshki dresses hang carefully on a fabulous reclaimed branch rail, lending to the very natural and comfortable environment of Vintage Pearl that so many boutiques struggle to achieve. Also stocked are a range of vintage-inspired gowns by Gino Cerruti available in sizes 8-20, with a very friendly price range to match for the bride on a budget.
Next, we look at the vintage pieces. Michelle sources these delicate gowns from Paris, the UK and the USA, as well as some that come from Irish homes. It’s wonderful to learn that many of the pieces she stocks can be altered to suit the modern bride. This could be as simple as taking up the sleeve or adjusting the neckline.The type of bride that comes looking for a vintage gown has quite a unique style, with a very specific ‘look’ for her wedding in mind. I wonder if many girls come looking for a vintage gown, only to find the style doesn’t suit them? “I think most brides just want something a little different. Many come looking for a vintage gown but our body shapes have evolved so much over the years, a style that suited women in the thirties or forties won’t necessarily suit the majority of modern day brides today. This is where a vintage inspired dress can work so well, a dress that’s inspired by a past era but made to suit a modern body shape. “, Michelle advises. From there Michelle has the advantage of having pre-loved gowns as well as vintage-inspired pieces with a more modern twist. One of the issues with the vintage pieces is that they tend to come in smaller sizes, however Michelle is working to counteract this by sourcing dresses in bigger sizes or that have some leeway in the waist line to allow them to be taken out.
The vintage gowns are not just for the big day out however, with many of them being ideally suited to a rehearsal dinner, or day-after celebrations. One fabulous piece from the 1980s is a slip dress with a lace top that is placed over it. Either piece could be worn on its own, meaning the bride could take her unique wedding gown and make it work for a special night out later on. Michelle fondly remembers one bride who tried on a vintage gown and could not stop smiling, twirling and dancing around the boutique, and its moments like this that she really loves.
Michelle’s selection of pre-loved dresses is immaculate. For those interested in vintage gowns, the term pre-loved is applicable whether the gown is 2 years or 50 years old. For someone on a tighter budget, buying a pre-loved dress is an incredible opportunity to own a stunning dress from a designer label, at a fraction of the original price. The rails here at Vintage Pearl Bridal are home to pieces by Maggie Sottero, Pronovias, Cymbeline and Jenny Packham (that one in particular I couldn’t stop staring at!)
So for the bride who is seeking a really unique wedding gown, and a truly sweet and relaxing bridal experience, head to Vintage Pearl Bridal where the delightful Michelle will help you find your dream dress.
34 Dominick Street, Galway
Tel: 086 868 1499