With more than a decade spent making one-of-a-kind couture garments, Larissa Williams has signature boho-street chic style to offer Maui brides looking for a fresh interpretation of island style.
Williams burned out on the LA celebrity styling scene and decided to make a go of her dream to build a fashion business on Maui, her already-established sanctuary from the West Coast hustle. Opening a small showroom and studio at 505 Front Street in Lahaina two years ago, she has three dimensions to her production: couture, vintage and ready-to-wear contemporary pieces. Of the three, it’s her couture line that creates her unique bridal and reception gowns.
“My love of fabric really fits into Maui well,” she says. “I like to play in negative space, I like cut outs and sheer. It’s the hand of the fabric that makes everything. I am a stickler with the fabrics.”
A custom gown or dress begins with a consultation where Williams considers body type and assesses what the bride has in mind. Then she selects a design from her cache. Next she builds a muslin–basically a first draft of the garment made from a plain fabric. Then after fitting and refining the muslin, she creates the garment using the actual fabric–in most cases silk, cotton, viola or chiffon.
“I love simplicity,” Williams says. “You won’t find my designs full of complicated ties or full crinoline skirts. Drape and flow is what I’m into. I have a stock of beautiful fabrics but if I don’t have what the client had in mind, I order swatches from LA.”
Williams also says there’s a trend here to wear a “reception” gown that’s different from the wedding ceremony attire. For instance, she recently created a silk dupioni cocktail dress in red and black plaid for a bride to wear with combat boots at her reception.
For Maui bride Sara Tekula, the concept was to have all the guests in white while she and groom Joseph Imhoff were colorful. Williams describes the couture silk gown she designed for Tekula as “fairy maiden.” But for bride Nicole Rockett’s wedding to Page Willenbrink, it was a chiffon and silk cream gown with beige accents–country chic.
“I customized the fabric to fit Nicole’s shape,” Williams says. “At the final fitting she brought in her shoes and we did the straps and hem. She was getting married outside and the dress had volume and flow and a relaxed Maui style perfect for her.”
Rockett loved the results.
“Larissa was awesome,” says Rockett. “I fell in love with that dress and it looked great the entire party. I was looking for something a little different. I wanted it elegant but comfortable and loved that design.”
Williams also recently designed a dress for the officiant of a wedding: a graceful caftan with kimono sleeves in cream and black silk. She says she steers away from the cupcake style of gowns that are more structured.
“I can totally get into a corseted top with a flowy bottom,” says Williams. “But those big gowns take a month in advance and a team to create. I can do it but if it’s too structured I just don’t vibe with it.”