Jacob Luppino and Anthony Pittorino are the dynamic duo that have made their couture label J'Aton into a household name. Elana Bardetta talks to the men behind the couture fantasies.
Brides often confide in Jacob Luppino
and Anthony Pittorino
, the wedding dress designers behind the couture label J'Aton
: they tell them that they never expected to get so many compliments from men. "We're coming from a different angle being male designers," explains Luppino. "We dress women the way men want to see women dressed."
These two hard-working designers launched their label in 1995 and since then have won many awards for their contemporary couture. Luppino recalls the early days: "We started this business with no financial support or backing and when we sold a dress we'd buy what we needed: sewing machines, equipment and so on."
Both Pittorino and Luppino come from Italian families and similar backgrounds. Their excellent ability to understand each other has also translated into perfect business sense over the years. Their first Melbourne store opened in Ascot Vale, their local area, and then moved to Prahran five years later where they aimed to broaden their client base. And they've certainly done so. Their celebrity clients are the who's who of Australian television and music: Delta Goodrem, Tara Moss, Ada Nicodemou, Sigrid Thornton, Megan Gale
and Holly Brisley
have all worn their gowns. Their design process is part of what attracts Australia's elite, a process that ensures that every bride feels like a star when her dress designed by J'Aton
. Gallery: J'Aton wedding gowns
"Every client deals directly with Anthony or myself" explains Luppino. "The advantage is that we actually sew each item in a tiny team. We both work across every detail and our hands touch everything." It's a hands-on approach that is clearly working and word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat clients are their rewards.
The designers say that they are willing to take inspiration wherever they find it: history, art, nature, architecture and even dining out have all contributed to their aesthetic as has a reverence for classic fashion designers such as Christian Dior
and Charles James
. All this inspiration evolves into a style that is very feminine, says Luppino. "We like to keep that femininity in our gowns, no matter the medium, be it French lace or a beautifully beaded fabric."
Their salon is also very different to other bridal ateliers. They don't have a showroom full of samples, just a small selection of couture gowns so clients get a feel for their style, craftsmanship and fit. They work by appointment only, for both consultations and fittings. Luppino and Pittorino meet with each prospective client to see if they all click. If everyone is happy, another appointment is set up for sketches, fabric samples and a discussion of the gown's concept.
"It's definitely a collaboration," says Luppino. "(Every dress is a combination) of what the client is thinking and our own style. Also, whatever the design may be, many elements of it evolve through the fitting process." Most gowns take six months to create, and brides are asked to be ready to commit to at least four fittings.
J'Aton embraces every kind of bride, as well as their likes and dislikes and they always listen to their clients thoughts. "If they don't like lace or hate beading, it just gets our minds thinking down other design avenues. It is never a problem," says Luppino. However, the pair have also been known to change a client's mind.
"If a client has definite thoughts and lets us know they don't like something, it's usually because of how they've seen other people design with it. Once they see the way we work with that medium and the level of quality, it's a whole new story."
J'Aton's advice for brides looking for inspiration for their dream dresses? "Don't waste time looking in umpteen shops," Luppino insists. "Instead look to fashion magazines, nature... anything around you!"
J'Aton is located at 185 Greville Street, Prahran. Call (03) 9533 8666 for appointments.
For more, visit http://www.jatoncouture.com/