When Alexis Novak was looking for her wedding dress this year, there weren’t that many high-fashion archive dresses to choose from: which is Exactly what she wanted. As the founder of Tab Vintage (whose clients include Dua Lipa and Kourtney Kardashian), Novak sought a bridal look that both made a distinct style statement and had historic panache. After some extensive shopping with the help of her industry contacts, Novak ended up finding just the thing—and just three weeks after her escape from Los Angeles, she now wants to help other brides do the same.
Today, Novak launches a vintage bridal curation on Moda Operandi. For fans of fashion history, it’s nothing short of extraordinary: there’s an Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior evening dress from the late 1950s, a 1970s embellished floral dress by Bob Mackie and a 2007 Balenciaga dress by Nicolas Ghesquière that is a reissue of the house’s 1951 “Puffball” design, to name just a few. “I included as many different styles, eras and designers as I could find,” Novak says of his selection. Y2K fashion obsessives will rave about their couture offerings by Gianni Versace, while Phoebe Philo fanatics will swoon over the white suits from the designer’s time at Celine.
Novak had her work cut out for her on the project: Since white fabric is difficult to keep clean, there was a lot of repair work needed to get the pieces ready for sale. With the Dior dress, for example—a piece she describes as a “huge career highlight”—Novak worked with a restoration expert to update the dress without removing any of its original tulle, boning or structural elements. “Throughout the process, I would find myself stopping to take deep breaths and just be in awe of the beauty and power of the piece,” she says. “It’s an elevated couture piece with an impeccable design that was expected out of the House of Dior at this time, but it has a subtle playfulness to it, a youthful refresh of the classic Dior dress.”
Novak’s Moda Operandi curation comes at a time when vintage wedding dresses are rapidly growing in popularity. Brides keen to stand out and avoid a stovepipe dress seen on countless others are seeking unique looks that test the boundaries of traditional wedding style. “As we’ve gotten to know our customers and reviewed our sales data, we’ve seen massive interest from brides looking for unique looks for their ceremony that they don’t see in typical bridal showrooms: ‘White dress’ is actually our number one search term one,” says Moda Operandi co-founder Lauren Santo Domingo Vogue. “Brides are looking for something truly unique, and what better fit for the ‘fashion bride’ than a vintage couture gown?” Then there is the sustainability angle: buying a vintage wedding dress is of course a much more environmentally conscious choice.