Skip to comments.Beauty, Faith … and Weddings - Designer Justina McCaffrey
Posted on 05/24/2007 5:11:12 PM PDT by NYer
OTTAWA, MAY 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- It is said you are what you eat, and according to a Catholic wedding dress designer, you're also what you wear.
Justina McCaffrey, a haute couture designer, is a vocal promoter of the Catholic idea of the feminine genius in the fashion industry, and insists that the clothes a woman wears can reflect or deflect her dignity, especially on her wedding day.
In this interview with ZENIT, McCaffrey spoke about what she thinks is wrong with the wedding industry and the understanding of the role of faith and feminine dignity in the celebration of marriage.
Q: What do you consider to be the core values of your company, Justina McCaffrey Haute Couture? Have time and experience changed these?
McCaffrey: In the early days, I certainly saw in our work the importance of beauty and contributing to true everlasting love, while also recognizing that my little company was preparing a woman to enter into a sacrament.
Beyond this, however, it used to be that the focus was just "go, go, go, and get it done fast." We were so plagued with wedding dates and fabric delays that we didn't really have time to consider other values.
As our company has matured, other values are coming into focus.
A few months ago [ ] there were a number of issues confronting our growing company. We needed a new place to house our manufacturing, we were unhappy with the current administrative work force wishing to work for our company, namely, very inexperienced youth with a strong sense of entitlement; and our current seamstresses were getting older.
The answer [ ] was to open a facility that celebrates womanhood.
This facility would house pregnant, abused and other victimized young girls between the ages of 14 and 25, living in a simple format like religious life, including poverty, chastity and obedience, to break away from the manipulations of pop culture.
These young girls would participate in light sewing and assist the more mature seamstresses.
This has become my dream, and presently we are looking for an abandoned convent in Quebec to house this kind of factory.
Q: A quick look at your Web site reveals a hint of your Catholic faith, with names of dress collections such as Stabat Mater, Revelations, Luminous, Transfigured, etc. How has your faith affected your work?
McCaffrey: My faith has given me the opportunity to not get caught up with the glamour of fashion.
My goal is not to dress every Paris Hilton, nor is it to put my name on everything that we see. My goal is to enhance the dignity of women.
I am very vocal about this difference between me and other fashion designers; I still believe that people need continual education about the dignity of being a woman and how this plays out in the clothes we wear.
Q: What kind of woman is drawn to your dresses?
McCaffrey: Traditionally, I design for the woman in love, embodying the idea of love without counting the cost.
I tend to a more romantic approach of draping fabric and choosing lace. As a result, people find in my designs something that is beautiful, that uplifts them, delights them and appeals to something that is forgotten -- the beauty of womanhood.
People are shocked that they love the beauty without the sexuality. This beauty takes them into another world. The rest of the world needs sexuality to sell anything. With my dresses there are no gimmicks, just beautiful dresses.
I think the vanity of the industry enters in when a bride is drawn in by all of the commercial ideals.
It is very important for a bride to be beautiful, but my idea of beauty is a natural idea of beauty, rather than the typical bridal beauty of scary makeup, fake nails, and lots and lots of jewels.
I don't think all that is necessary. It is, in fact, distracting from the true beauty of a woman.
Q: If you could change one thing about the fashion or wedding industry, what would it be?
McCaffrey: I would change the ultraconsumerism that is usually associated with the wedding industry. Cheesy DJ and limo guys, all of the really bad accessories that some people think are required. These types of things, put simply, make young men and women embarrassed to get married.
It is easy for people to get distracted about what a wedding actually is -- a man and woman giving themselves entirely to each other. And for a woman, this event is a new way to live out her femininity.
A woman's body is designed to be in relationship to others, seen most clearly in her ability to have children, but also in smaller details, like the way her arms are shaped.
If you look at a man's arms held out with palms up, they are straight, but a woman's arms have a curve to them at the elbow. This curve allows her to embrace others, particularly her husband and children. A wedding is the beginning of bringing feminine gifts into their fullness.
Q: What recommendations do you make to brides planning weddings?
McCaffrey: I like beautiful weddings but there is a disturbing trend that everybody is trying to "out-sophisticate" each other.
It is sad to be at a wedding of a friend who is usually lighthearted and even funny and see her transformed into "ice queen bride."
Brides can become paranoid, planning their whole wedding with the idea of impressing their boss who is going to attend.
I think there needs to be a return to naturalness and to the importance of family in weddings. I hate when the invitations say "no" to children.
A well-planned wedding will always be beautiful if it includes grace and dignity. There is no need to include pretensions.
Q: Are there insights you have learned from your work about what it means to be a woman?
McCaffrey: Every bride I meet teaches me a little something about being a woman. Some experiences are positive and some are not.
I think the attention that I give to my retail boutiques helps me to formulate the true essence of a lady. Our motto is: Ladies Serving Ladies.
Through this statement I am able to take young girls and give them formation. I can make a place where women can serve other ladies with dignity, while also coming to the understanding of what it means to be one.
One young girl who visited my boutique said, "This store changes the way I think about everything." I think she represents many girls and women who feel that in order to get what society or her parents say is necessary, she must compromise herself as a woman because of the pressure to pursue a career and become professional, but following masculine rules.
Few women have the opportunity to understand and live what it truly means to be a feminine woman.
Wow! I LOVE this lady!
Brides should look virginal, not like they're in their slip.
My daughter will probably get married in her grandmother's wedding dress anyhow (when the right guy comes along). Real silk double weight satin, jewel neckline, basque bodice, puff sleeves about to the middle of the upper arm, very full skirt with a chapel train. Absolutely plain except for a 1/8" lace border on the neckline. The fabric is so good that it doesn't need a lot of elaboration, and there's a Brussels lace full veil that makes up for the plain gown.
I was married in it too, the pictures still look good 30 years later. (The guys' tuxedos are the worst the 70s could supply - shoulda gone with morning dress.)
You are right. The designer is “talking the talk,” but her dresses are as revealing as anything else out there. It’s what Miss Manners Judith Martin calls “dressing for the party and not the ceremony.”
YEah, having looked at some of the dresses, all I can say is that if that’s all pious and restrained, the other brides must be getting hitched in lingerie.
A friend’s daughter got hitched and the dress was really nice but like these in they way they handled the bust. So at the brides request the mom made a very nice voile jacket with a fairly severe cut and it tamed the whole thing while still being exquisite.
A pretty jacket would be a good answer for a lot of those gowns.
Glad to see I was not the only one who thought the dresses immodest. Too many looked like nightgowns for my liking.
I’m not that crazy about most of the dresses either, but not for the reasons you have. It’s just that they’re sort of unoriginal. And some of the models look like they’re depressed and/or in the last stages of TB.
I don’t have a problem with bare shoulders. If a girl really is virginal, she’ll look innocent with her bare little shoulders showing.
My own daughter, pretty as she is, has developed large shoulders and arms from wrestling Cleveland Bay stallions and is certainly not going to get married in any off-the-shoulder outfit.
And don't even get me started on anorexic fashion models! I didn't comment on that because it seems like they ALL look like that, unless they're modelling "plus size" clothes.
The thing that struck me most was that she wasn't practicing what she preached. And while a girl might be able to maintain a virginal appearance in some of those dresses, she'll still look like she's standing around in her underclothes. Seriously, some of those dresses look like slips or nightgowns.
After going through the collection more carefully I’d have to agree with you that some of the dresses are like nightgowns. I was expecting glorious confections but those little draggy things are neither attractaive nor suitable for weddings.
The Clevelands are just a job. She usually rides TB hunters like us.
Well, the market for the coaching breeds is fairly limited . . . . there’s a group around here that does event driving (we run into them at the Conyers horse park) but you just don’t see people driving harness horses around here very much!
Extremely beautiful! Wonderfully Christ centered! And making huge sums of money! Way to go girl! You are changing the world!
I don’t think these big boys get driven much, my daughter has not so much as seen a park break and spends her time galloping them cross-country. They are evented, hunted, and crossed with TBs for jumpers. They are extremely profitable, going for around $35K apparently for the base model, and they seem to sell easily around here (MD/VA). But they’re BIG, 17-2 to 18 hands, and indestructible. She has her hands full.
Oops, looks like we hijacked the thread and turned it to talking about horses yet again. We’re bad.
I have very short legs (especially the lower leg), so I look pretty silly on a big horse, or a broad horse. My trainer got a new horse in, a palomino, he's technically a QH but there's something else in there because he is HUGE all over - almost 17hh and very wide. I rode him a couple of weeks ago, and my trainer said I looked like a peanut on top of him. He was very forward but perfectly tractable and has a nice personality, but I do feel silly on him. My mare is 16 hh, but she's very narrow like a lot of the sprinter type Tbreds, so I don't look too much like a monkey on a stick on her.
but I don’t really like most of the dresses. Too much skin showing, especially the upper body, for a wedding dress
All the styles today are ugly with the no sleeve look. I hate it especially on women with big boobs. It is not right to go to church with boobs sticking out. Also it is for skinny women. I have seen many overweight women in this type of gown and to tell you the truth it is gross.
I don’t know why a full figured woman (and I am one) would want to get married in a dress that makes her look like a floozy out of a Rowlandson cartoon!
Many women my age and older (42) to me dress like slobs these days. I am in Northeast PA and you have women who are full figured and walk around with their stomach and assess sticking out. They want to be like the teenagers. My mom and I were discussing how the women around here dress like slobs and have 1000.00 pocketbooks. They wear thongs to the office (my office) and have bad hair and no makeup but they have that expensive bag!
“The bride was topless!”
I never wear makeup, but otherwise I'm clean and decent, and my hair doesn't look like I was dragged backwards through a hedge . . .
That’s my immediate reaction to all these dresses with no upper half. I guess it saves the manufacturer some materials costs ...
I picked up the word flip flops in Cape Cod. In NY we say Thongs (not the under kind) LOL.