Truvelles creations are soft, quiet, majestic, powerful yet subtle and above all, most beautiful. Present, is a gentle woman who has imagined it all. As a child she would walk the Gastown streets with her mother, marvelling at the sights, the proud business owners and the magic that would float in the air and hope, that one day, she too may stand among the others. Well that someday came along and now she’s here, Gaby Bayona, mother of Truvelle ( a stylised word which means “A lucky chance”). Sure, luck plays a little part in all things but when Gastown calls its people, if they can hear its voice, they come, knowing that somehow, this was always meant to be.
Give me three words to describe yourself?
Restless, excitable, hard-working.
Your company name is very interesting? How did it come about?
I wanted a name that wasn’t two words put together and sounded made up like “Simply Stunning Bridal”, or words to that effect. I was doing research on words from other languages to discover if I could take inspiration from that. I eventually stumbled upon this blog called Other Wordly. Words are taken from different languages that are aren’t directly translatable to English and an attempt is made to define them. For example, one of the words I found was “trouvaille”- French for “a lucky chance”. I thought that word held beautiful meaning. I started to play around with it and came up with “truvelle” with the elle part meaning girl, and as my name is Gabrielle, the name fit perfectly.
As a true artisan, your design process moves from raw conception to exquisite completion. Much of what you do is thought out on paper, made by hand, crafted slowly and finished thoughtfully. Who does that? It’s as if we have gone back 100 years and that’s exciting.
It is a dying art in terms of anything you are making with your hands such as wares made by cobblers or seamstresses. We are moving towards fast fashion. It’s very easy to get something made overseas. In the custom dress world, there are people doing it but they are few and far between as it’s difficult to acquire the skill required to make wedding dresses. I have been very fortunate. My mother designs wedding gowns and I grew up in the industry and learned everything from her. I am blessed to know how to create gowns, to make the patterns and to design every aspect from the beginning. There are a few other custom dressmakers around but for the indie bridal scene, Truvelle has the largest global reach. We are pretty excited to have achieved this growth after just three years.
Describe your creative process.
I have never really considered myself a super designer. You know, one who wakes up from a restless night with a dream of this fantastic dress. That’s totally not who I am. I am a lot more of a problem solver. If I don’t see it; if it’s not there; if it needs to be there; if I recognize that an idea will do really well in the market – I’ll make it. Everything in the collection is intentional. I create pieces that are easily understandable but also pieces that are very different so that when people view the collection they may say: “This designer is really pushing the boundaries with this gold sequined dip dress”. They may not necessarily purchase that specific dress but they will find other dresses in the collection and view them as being quite wearable. The intention becomes clear that the designer is regarded as cutting edge by using different materials and cuts. It may not always be what they are looking for but it does add to the overall aesthetic and the unique creativity that is born out of each collection. The entire process takes about a year. We first spend about a month or two on visioning and creating a new line. We then need to work with our fabric suppliers, pattern makers and then shoot the content as it aligns with the brand. Eventually comes the creation of line sheets and releasing it to our retailers and the press. My design process is much more than just the imagining of the dress; it really is the big picture, from start to finish.
What inspires you to create your unique style of bridal dresses?
I look for what’s in the market and how I can add to it. I also look at what my friends wear and I do a lot of travelling. In this way, I see what others are wearing and doing in different parts of the world. That to me is very inspiring. Trunk shows are also fundamental to me and with these shows, I travel to other bridal boutiques and do consultations for a weekend. I meet with brides to be by helping them choose their dress. When I do the trunk shows, I am working directly with the brides. The shows help me gauge what exactly people are looking for, what they are asking from me to change within my line of Truvelle dresses. I take all that valuable feedback and information and use it as part of my distillation process in designing a new line. Again, trying to be a problem solver. This is what people are saying and asking for. What can I do to listen to the people who are ultimately going to be purchasing a dress and wearing it on their wedding day.
Tell me about something interesting that you’re working on?
A really exciting thing that is happening within the Truvelle umbrella is the launch of a new line called Laudae. Having a new little “bridal baby” is wonderful because I have been able to take all the lessons I’ve learned so far and weave them into this new line. It’s been an awesome process creating something from the start rather than just building on what’s already been established. We will be taking it into the market in New York in October and I’m super excited to see what happens.
What do you like about doing business here in the neighbourhood?
I love Gastown. I grew up in Vancouver and I remember as a kid, coming to the neighbourhood and thinking: ‘Whoah! Gastown is so cool!’. It has always been a dream to eventually move here and work here. It’s super surreal to be a Gastown business owner now. As a teen, I used to really look up to the people who operate businesses here. I always thought Gastown was so big but it’s actually a tiny community. What I truly love about Gastown is being part of this creative community of artists, business owners and hard working people. Having our office here, with such great places for our staff to eat and get coffee, has been awesome for them. When I was setting up my business and looking for staff to join Truvelle, on the want ad I would put “….in our beautiful Gastown office” and I feel that by having our office in Gastown, it adds a legitimacy and coolness to the brand. Gastown is more trailblazing than a lot of other Vancouver neighbourhoods.
What are your favorite places to go to and hang out in Gastown?
The Birds & Beets for sure! We all spend a ton of time there. I like Bambo Café. They have great food and it’s really easy to get to. The owners are great and they treat us like their children. I go to Smartmouth a lot. They have an awesome Chai Latte. I love One of A Few. It’s my favourite clothing store.
If there was one Truvelle dress that could tell a beautiful story, which one would it be and what would it say?
It would be one of the pieces from my current line and it would be when the dresses were being made. I can imagine it talking in short sentences like: ‘late night….Gaby is listening to Drake…puts together my skirt…doesn’t look at me for a week….looks at me…touches me…puts me away….another week later….finally puts a bodice on me…’
What works for me is that I take my time and eventually, I get there in the end.