Wedding dresses fit for the aisle – and the catwalk


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The two-piece traditional wedding dress, blouse and skirt is worn with a long stole to the left. Myanmar brides wear no veil, but the stole is hand-stitched with rhinestones, crystal beads, pearls and sequins. The gown is usually made of the finest silk, encrusted with pearls, beads and more sequins.

Htay Htay Tin, 39, has created her latest gowns not only with silk but also with lace and satin. The brides she dresses this season in her acheik designs will be particularly sparkly.

Her trademark long stoles and hand-made trains are significant features of the Magwe Region-born designer’s work.

Htay Htay Tin didn’t want to be a farmer like everyone else in her family. Starting work as a tailor at the age of 14 in her native Taung Twin Gyi, she has devoted her life to fashioning fine clothes.

As a little girl, she even made dresses for her dolls.

She learned basic sewing and knitting at the age of 11 from a neighbour, Daw Thein Thein Tin, who still lives there.

But after Htay Htay Tin’s father died in 2008 she upped sticks and came to Yangon to follow her dream. After further study with Daw Thida Win at Dozo Fashion Design Technical School in 2009, she got down to work in 2010.

But not alone. She persuaded her mother and sister to sell their land in Magwe and give up farming.

“I still remember how crazy I was about clothes,” said Htay Htay Tin in a recent interview. “Even when I was at college I could make 12 dresses a day.”

She opened her first fabric shop in Bogyoke Market in 2011, and showed her first designs in a group fashion show, Lady First, attracting the attention of local fashion magazines.

“I love our traditions so much I decided to design wedding dresses for a living,” she said. “I’m happy that people seem to appreciate my creations.”

She joined Myanmar Fashion Designers Group (MFDG) and opened another branch at Myanmar Culture Valley in 2014. She also sponsored the Myanmar Beauty Pageant that produced Miss Asia Pacific World 2014.

The next fabric shop she opened was at Landamaw in 2015, when she started accepting trainees in the art of making Western and Myanmar wedding dresses, charging K150,000 for Western classes and K80,000 for traditional. Most of the silks and cotton fabrics from her shop are local, but some of the silks and lace are imported from Thailand.

“Fashion is important for everybody,” she said. “As the country develops, the fashion sector is also expanding. Most people understand fashion, and trends are changing very fast.”

Traditions, however, tend not to change that fast. The colours thought to bring good luck are still white, rose pink, lavender, gold and baby blue.

“I never use bright colours in my wedding dresses,” she said. “Myanmar wedding dresses don’t need too much creativity. Black is bad luck, but it’s OK to use it in evening gowns.”

She displayed her designs with others at the second MFDG Fashion Show last year, and has now shown in dozens of catwalk shows, at home and abroad.

“My career happens to be my dream job,” she said. “I don’t mind how busy I am, what with the training and customising dresses, and running the shops.”

Htay Htay Tin is now preparing her first solo show, probably at the end of the year. She’s also looking to launch her own ready-to-wear brand at what she says are very affordable prices.Read more at: |

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