If you tuned in to watch the Royal Wedding and decided then and there you must have a dress exactly like Kate Middleton's for your own big day, Mina Olive is not the bridal boutique for you.
"Why be half of her when you can be all of you?" asks Megan Thompson, owner of Mina Olive.
Her question gets right to the heart of what her new boutique is all about, custom bridal design. Brides can head here, not to wiggle into a mass-produced sample dress, but to design one all their own.
Anyone who already has been through the gown-hunting process in Las Vegas, recognizes the value in customizing. Most boutiques offer standard alterations. Anything above and beyond that probably will be limited to the restrictions of the manufacturer, which are usually stringent.
Thompson discovered as much through her own search for a gown 3½ years ago. She had her sights set on a Vera Wang dress that came close to perfect but not quite. Considering the healthy sum of money she was ready to pour into it, Thompson took issue with the small details she couldn't change. When she went back to try it on one last time, her mind was made up.
"There were other girls putting it on," she recalls. "I thought, 'Oh, no. It's my day and my dress.' "
She went from shopping for a dress to shopping for a dressmaker. With a local seamstress' sewing prowess and Thompson's self-taught design skills, she crafted a strapless, corset-top, voluminous ballgown that fulfilled her every dress desire.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas marketing graduate thought she couldn't be alone in her quest for customizing what many women call the most important dress they'll ever wear. Shortly after making her own gown, Thompson started designing dresses in a studio out of her home. She always had taken an interest in fashion, and she taught herself the ins and outs of the industry.
After hearing the same criticism from prospective clients at bridal shows, that she needed a professional presence, Thompson made arrangements to establish one at the newly opened Market LV at Tivoli Village. She sublet a 524-square-foot space and called it Mina Olive, derived from her own name. Growing up, a Hebrew teacher at her Jewish day school called her Mina, and her middle name is Oliver.
Thompson has designed six sample gowns, which can be liberally altered to the bride's preference. On dress forms at the store's entrance, they greet visitors and lure casual passers-by. They vary from a teacup cocktail dress to a vintage-inspired silk gown with lace applique and range between $2,000 and $4,000. A few local dressmakers help her produce them.
Custom gowns start at $4,500 and top out at about $10,000 for now. Thompson says prices could increase in the future.
She imports some fabrics from Italy and France and uses crystals that she says are on par with Swarovski's. Between materials and construction, her price points climb much higher than your David's Bridal or Alfred Angelo stores.
It's the price of knowing no other bride has worn the same dress.
"Unless you're on a first-name basis with Vera Wang," she says, "the quality of work you're getting and quality of materials is right up there."
Pink paint covers the walls at Mina Olive, as do sketches of Thompson's gowns, accompanied by the name of the bride who wore it, "Scarlett," "Amanda," "Lanisa." Empty frames also hang, waiting for new brides to claim them.
Mina Olive is at The Market LV inside Tivoli Village, Suite #210, 738-2926.
Contact Xazmin Garza at xgarza@review journal.com or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.