Photography: Glenn Ferguson

Photography: Glenn Ferguson


How did you begin your career as a dressmaker?
I was always interested in fashion as a young high school girl. My maths books had gowns and fashion sketches on the pages where my work was meant to be. After completing my Diploma of Fashion Design and Production at The Gordon, I worked for several small businesses creating made-to-measure garments for beautiful ladies who went to the most luxurious events. Once I was introduced to help design and make a wedding gown, I was hooked. I opened my boutique in 1990, and started designing and handmaking every gown in the store.

What is your earliest fashion memory?
The stunning style of my beautiful mother and her sister who always dressed in the latest ‘70s fashion. They would be dripping in pearls or looking amazing in groovy hats and hot pants. My greatest influence was ‘80s music clips, and I worshipped ‘40s fashion gods Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior. I quickly fell in love with the mystery of beautiful gowns in stunning cuts and elegant women.

What do you love about working with brides-to-be in the lead-up to their special day?
I feel very special being included in their wedding day party as the designer, fitter and seamstress. I have had many friendships formed during fittings over the years. I feel I can guide and advise the brides about how best to flatter their figure or offer creative advice so they can look and feel individual. Nowadays, I also mother them in a way and help them relax as I assure everything will work out fine.

You must have some beautiful memories from throughout your career. What are some standouts?
I feel very proud to have my peers from the wedding industry and local businesses come to my store and allow me to design and handmake a wedding gown for their daughters or nieces. I am also flattered when I have the opportunity to dress the sisters, cousins, neighbours or work friends of past brides who have all come from referrals from clients. But over the 25 years in this business, it is creating a gown for those close to me that has made the best memories.

Describe your work in three words.
Intense, creative, rewarding.


What are the advantages of purchasing a custom-made wedding gown?
The bride has total control of her own design, fabric and style. We sew and create the wedding gown here in-house, during several fittings, usually over a six-month period. It’s a special process because the bride, along with her family and friends if she wishes, can watch the gown evolve. Every stitch is sewn by hand here in our private workroom and all of our gowns are treated so carefully right up until the week of the wedding when they are freshly pressed and perfectly fitted before collection.

You have made thousands of stunning bridal gowns. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Firstly in the fabric – I love to dress the female form and fit the curves well. I love a great cut. I follow many creative souls across the globe, but generally aim to flatter the woman’s figure and create a stunning oneoff gown.

What is the best feedback you’ve received?
Along with tears, hugs, chocolates, flowers and wine, it’s the phone calls the week after the wedding raving about how wonderful they felt in their gown we created. I love hearing how many compliments they received on their big day.

To contact Karen click here – pearlsandroses.com.au

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