Launched in New York City in 1984, by sisters Lora & Lisa VanLear, VanLear Bridals, Inc. gained almost immediate recognition as one of the nation’s most imaginative bridal design leaders.  Lora VanLear’s vision for bridal fashion combines tradition with a contemporary flair.  Her audacious styling was like a breath of fresh air to bridal magazine editors and discriminating retailers alike.  Her fashion forward styling became available at stores like Kleinfeld’s, Marshall Fields, Giddings Jennings and many others.  Bridal magazine editors delighted in having her gowns grace the pages and covers of Brides, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, and Bridal Guide Magazines.

VanLear’s reputation for originality isn’t hollow hyperbole.  Lora VanLear is the only bridal designer to hold an unchallenged copyrighted design feature in the bridal industry.  VanLear lays claim to creating the VanLearTM Bustle © – a gown design element that transforms a formal gown with an extended train into a comfortable and elegant reception dress without using buttons, snaps, or hooks.  Because the copyright is closely monitored and enforced, VanLear remains the only designer to offer this design element to this day.

A career as a bridal designer demands much more than the ability to create fanciful sketches.  It requires a comprehensive understanding of pattern making and the way in which complicated gowns are constructed.  It requires the technical skill necessary to transform delicate fabrics, laces, embroidery, and beading into a spectacular gown.  It’s the combination of artistic vision with technical skill that separates designers from stylists.  Lora has devoted her entire professional career to this combination.

Some women claim that it’s possible to have it all — a high pressure career and a fulfilling family life with children.  While that may be possible for some, it isn’t necessarily possible for all.  Lora felt compelled to choose between the two.

An Ohio native, Lora grew up in Cincinnati and graduated from The University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Art, and Architecture.  After two decades of success as an internally distributed brand in New York, Lora selected to return to the Dayton area to rear her children with her extended families close at hand.  Her children attended schools in Centerville and continued their education at Ohio colleges.  They continue to live in Ohio today.

Although Lora’s high-pressure design career was placed on the back burner, her passion for bridal design never faltered.  She continues to create custom designs for an extremely limited number of retailers and also maintains her own custom couture salon on South Second Street in Miamisburg, Ohio.  Lora has extended her business to include design in virtually every fashion category — from outerwear and ready-to-wear — from glittering evening wear to prom dresses and gowns for every special occasion (including christening).  However, bridal remains her personal passion.

“Based upon years of experience, I’ve learned that the most important thing about any gown is the woman who wears it.  It’s not about labels or brand names, it’s about the way that a woman feels — the way that she looks — when she’s wearing the gown.”

Because VanLear Custom Couture is a truly personal experience, original sketches are created for each patron.  You will be guided in selecting the fabrics, laces, embroidery, and the beading designs that will be crafted exclusively for you.  The fit always will be perfect because the gown is produced to your exact figure specifications and fitted with a muslin in advance of the final production.

Designing custom clothing always is a challenge to balance comfort with luxury and style.”  No bride should “settle” for quality and styling that doesn’t express what she wants — especially when the cost is competitive with standard bridal shop pricing.

Make an appointment to meet with Lora VanLear and discover the difference between buying a gown off the rack and buying a gown with a custom design experience.  You’ll be delighted by the outcome. She will make you look and feel spectacular!

Header image provided by © Acquire Wedding Photography