Charleston-Born Couture

Charleston-Born Couture | A hometown fashionista enlists A-list local designers to create her custom wedding day ensemble

When local handbag designer Candace Romeo wed Charles DeWitt Alessandro last year, she sashayed down the aisle outfitted in a signature Charleston ensemble made almost entirely by area designers. Here’s how she pulled together her look—and how you might follow suit. “As soon as I was engaged, I called upon my fashion business friends to dress me for my wedding day,” says Candace. Because the ceremony and reception were at The Cotton Dock at Boone Hall Plantation, I wanted to keep the effect natural and organic to complement the incredible surroundings.” The Dress “I was introduced to Kate Nevin’s chic and effortless style when her bridal gowns debuted on the catwalk during Charleston Fashion Week 2007,” Candace continues. “I knew she could capture the clean-lined, glamorous look I had envisioned for my wedding day. So she designed a strapless column dress for me, which was ‘green,’ too. The silkworms used to make the silk weren’t harmed, the silks had never been dyed, and the gown was sewn locally.” The Accessories “Next,” says Candace, “I called milliner Leigh Magar to coordinate a bridal comb made of feathers. My husband supplies Leigh with quail feathers from his hunting outings, so she incorporated some of those into my piece to make it all the more special. “After working with Leigh, I met with jewelry designer Susan Hauser to create my earrings. She handcrafts classic feminine pearl and gemstone jewelry that I truly love. The earrings she made for my ensemble were white freshwater pearls with smoky quartz enveloped in a gold teardrop leaf that perfectly suited the other pieces. Last, I designed a white and gold python evening clutch for myself.”


The Bridal Party “I was so thrilled with what these women had created that I wanted to share the look with my bridesmaids,” says Candace. “So Susan designed their earrings, Leigh made peacock feather combs for them, and I fashioned one-of-a-kind handbags for each of them. “In the end, I not only came away with a singular and highly personal outfit, but I was also struck with how fortunate we are to live in a city flourishing with so many talented designers and artists, all so eager to help one another.”


Love the Look?

Here’s who fashioned Candace’s wedding day attire and accoutrements Susan Hauser (843) 607-3861; Magar Hatworks (843) 577-7740; Kate Nevin (843) 297-2463; Candace Romeo Alessandro (843) 906-9592; When you shop local boutiques, ask what Charleston talent they represent, as there’s a trove of designers to be found in town. And if you find someone you love, do tell us about them. Contact Melissa Bigner at

Photos Courtesy of Todd Sullivan