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The Aisle Arbiter

Custom designer Michael Faircloth creates dream dresses for moms, too.

Designer Michael Faircloth ( splashed onto the sartorial scene in 2001, when his longtime client Laura Bush wore one of his beaded gowns to her husband’s presidential inauguration. You remember the one: Candy Apple red, long sleeves, the hem sweeping the floor. Even though the small-town guy who grew up in Yoakum, Texas, had been creating custom clothing for private clients for years, overnight he became a household name.

For 30 years, his custom clothing has graced the bodies of ladies who lunch, gala girls and brides, whose wedding gowns can sometimes take up to a year to make. And one of the most important wedding guests, the mother of the bride, can also have Faircloth’s signature tailored look with his new line of ready-to-wear mother-of dresses now available at Warren Barrón.

“I wanted to be a lawyer,” laughs Faircloth, as he sits on a sofa in his new Highland Park studio. “But my mother was dying of cancer when I was 18, and she thought I should do something more fulfilling.” With his late mother’s guidance and advice from Kim Dawson, Faircloth studied fashion design at the University of North Texas while also working the sales floor at Neiman Marcus. Those formative years taught Faircloth the art of designing and selling. “I had to figure it out all on my own,” says Faircloth.

Recognizing how overwhelming the fashion business can be for novices, Faircloth recently instituted The Michael Faircloth Protégé Program, a year-long apprenticeship available for designers to learn everything from client management to fabric resourcing. “Sometimes I have younger people that come in and aren’t at my price level yet,” says Faircloth. “With the protégés, I don’t have to turn anyone away.”

Faircloth’s I Do’s
Hand-embroidered everything, heirloom veils, sheer yokes and sleeves with lace or embroidery, side parts in hair, daytime weddings, going-away suits and dresses, soft metallic colors for “mothers of,” red lips

Faircloth’s I Don’ts
Over-beaded dresses, too many accessories, sleeveless dresses, huge platform shoes, changing into flip-flops, center parts in hair, cleavage at the altar, tan lines, lip gloss, Western boots with your bridal gown