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Alum creates custom graduation dresses

Elena Victoria’s custom designs help girls in their search for unique dresses

Amelia Lytle

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Finding a graduation dress that’s affordable, unique, and fits school requirements can be a challenge, so instead some seniors are getting custom dresses rather than buying one from a store.

New Trier alumnus Elena Victoria started her company EV around creating custom dresses for graduation.

Her start in dress designing began in high school where she would design and sew dresses for school dances.

“When I graduated in 2010, I made my own graduation dress and decided that I would pursue a career in fashion design.”

Victoria faced the same problem many seniors continue to deal with, finding a unique graduation dress. With around 500 girls graduating, having the same dress as another person, or struggling to find one at all, is a challenge.

“I knew that with the sewing skills I had at the time, I could probably make a simple strapless gown that I could wear to the graduation ceremony. I think I made it in 2 hours after school one day,” Victoria said.

Senior Rani Mehta said, “I can never find dresses that fit me and it’s really frustrating to shop for them, so getting a custom dress seemed a lot easier and I know it would fit right away.”

Victoria has a background in fashion design, as she graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Fashion Design & Technology. She also has worked with brands including Gucci and Vera Wang.

When it comes to designing the dresses, Victoria keeps her customers very involved. “I was definitely pretty involved because she asked for my own ideas first and then gave me some input and suggestions.” senior Natalie Marsh said.

Mehta said she had a lot of input into the design of her graduation dress.

“She showed me some pictures of what styles she thought I’d look good in and I also had an idea of what I wanted so we worked together to create the dress,” she said.

This is the second year Victoria has created custom dresses for New Trier and her business is beginning to take off.

“My business runs on word of mouth. Clients also see previous work from girls that have graduated in the past and discover that it is an EV dress.”

Marsh has been planning on a custom dress from Elena Victoria for a while.

“She is my cousin, so I didn’t really consider other dress options because I think it’s important to support your family members and to support small businesses in general.”

Victoria also said social media is a huge outlet for her brand. “People enjoy seeing the construction process and seeing their dress in the making.”

Social media benefits girls in their hunt for a graduation dress in many ways. Senior Sophie Dable saw a past senior’s graduation pictures and fell in love with her dress. “A girl last year had a great dress, and when I tried looking for other dresses in stores none of them compared. I ended up asking the girl where she got it, and decided that would be my graduation dress.”

Another major consideration girls have is price. Gowns are often priced significantly higher than an average dress, so finding one within a budget can be difficult.

Victoria custom graduation dresses start at $400.00 and include a consultation, two fittings, and the dress.

“From there, the price goes up depending on style and fabrics selected.” Victoria said.

“I’m definitely spending more than what I could be spending on a store bought dress, but high school graduation is a fairly special occasion, so I think it’s worth it to spend the extra money on a dress that fits me well and reflects my style.” Marsh said.

Mehta agreed that a custom graduation dress was worth the higher price point.

“I’m probably spending more money in the end, but I figured I’m only going to graduate once and I worked hard to get to this day, so it would be nice to walk and get my diploma wearing a dress that’s made specially for me.”

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Alum creates custom graduation dresses