COLUMBIA, SC – The economy may be down, but custom-made fashion is still in demand. Annabelle Laroque is just a small town southern gal, with big-city fashion sense, cashing in on this growing trend.
"I felt there was a need. Just how men can have a custom suit made, I felt women should be able to have a custom dress made,” Laroque said.
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The designer, who graduated from college just five years ago, quickly became bored with the corporate world and decided to pursue her passion: fabric and design.
With no job and a sewing machine she had borrowed from her aunt, Laroque began designing skirts and dresses for friends and family. Now, just a few years later, her dresses are recognized and worn all across the southeast. Her pieces range from $300 to $350. Even with such difficult economic times, Laroque has managed to keep the orders coming.
"It seems like every season brings a different opportunity that someone would need a custom dress or would want to purchase something off the rack,” said Laroque.
A Laroque dress takes a few weeks to create. Customers work one-on-one with the designer herself to make sure each dress is one-of-a-kind. The first step is a consultation where customers pick out the fabric of their choice, followed by Laroque taking measurements for the creation.
In two weeks, you come back in for a fitting and any needed alterations are made. Two weeks after that, the dress is ready to be picked up.
“I don’t know of any store that does what we do here— from start to finish. It’s special,” said Laroque.
As Laroque’s fashion line continues to develop, she said looks forward to dressing women in that perfect outfit for that perfect occasion.
“It’s just grown so fast. No matter how busy it is or how stressful it is sometimes, it’s so rewarding to share in special occasions in peopless lives,” she said.