My First Evening Gown

It doesn’t matter where in the world you come from, if you’re a fan of evening gowns and love to dress up, you’ve heard of Downtown LA’s Fashion District. The holy grail for all of us girls who never got to go to prom but needed to outshine anyone and everyone at one of our many cousin’s weddings. It’s been a place majority of us go to when we need to find a dress to commemorate a close one’s wedding, engagement, baby shower- truth be told, just about anything that requires formal attire. Yes, we can try Saks, Neimans, Bloomingdales, and Nordstrom’s- but sometimes, the designers that are available at those retailers just don’t cut it for us. We like excessive sparkles, out-of-the-box designs, shiny beads, flashy sequins, abstract art in clothing form, big gems- the whole nine yards. And Downtown LA’s Fashion district is just that (or so, it was).


Let The Games Begin!!!

With every trip to the Fashion District, I found myself more and more hesitant to drive through the two-hour commute to Los Angeles ever again. I kept on coming home defeated with no dress in my trunk (or even worse, a dress that I was forced to purchase just for the sake of having something to wear to the event). I knew a well-versed fashion sense existed in the universe. My Instagram feed was flooding with beautiful evening gowns that made my heart pitter-patter within seconds of seeing it. But the gowns I saw scattered across the once-called fashion mecca just wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.

The Taglyan

This time around, one of my dearest cousins was getting married at one of the most gorgeous wedding venues in California, The Taglyan. I knew I wanted to wear something appropriate for the location, but alas, the fashion district failed me. I came home that night feeling absolutely defeated and had no clue what I was going to do. Luckily, I knew I had a few months until her big day and told myself, I would find a dress- I just had to be patient.






That night, as I was doing my evening scrolls on Instagram and Pinterest, I came across a dress that I had been eyeing for years now. To this day, I have no clue who the designer is or where you could find it- but I knew I always wanted to wear that gown. My husband looked over his shoulder and complimented the dress on the screen of my phone. I sighed and said “Yeah if only I could make this for myself”- and that is when the lightbulb went off- “Why don’t you?” he chimed. Why don’t you? Why don’t you? I quickly got up, grabbed my laptop and we both spent the rest of the night finding ways to design my own gown. I had some experience since I had created my own engagement party dress from scratch, so this idea wasn’t completely foreign territory for me. It was a fun challenge- especially to see my husband so invested in making this into a reality for me. Within a week of nonstop research, we found local designers, ateliers from overseas, fabric suppliers and so much more. And thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to locate a world-class seamstresses (who are now some of my dearest friends!) and pinpointed the exact lace pictured in the photo of the dress I was drooling over all those years.


The Inspiration




Using the original dress as the inspiration, my seamstress and I went back and forth until we finally landed on a design that was perfect. It was so convenient to be able to make the dress modest from the get-go, rather than having to hunt down matching fabric all over the fabric shops of Southern California, taking it to a tailor who you hope has experience making clothing more modest and hoping they make it look right. The convenience of a custom dress was really highlighted for me at this point- to be able to craft a piece of clothing just for you, ensuring you feel like the best version of yourself when you wear it is one of the best feelings ever. My seamstress finally received the lace and went to work. Within a few weeks, revisions here and there, she sent me the final picture… and just like that- it was out in the airway, flying over to my front porch.



I spent the next few days feeling so uneasy. Even though I had received photos & video footage - I still felt a sense of uneasy butterflies in my stomach every time I thought about it. And finally, the text message I had been waiting for all week buzzed my phone. “Your package will be delivered by the end of the day.” Then, the end of the day came and the doorbell rang.

 Running down the stairs like an army wife who awaits her marine’s arrival for the first time in months, I retrieved the package from the mailman. Weeks of my fruit and labor sitting in my arms, I thought, as my newborn idly starred across the room at me… wondering what in God’s grace was happening to her mother that afternoon. With no remorse, I ripped open the box and like a stream from a rose gold waterfall from Utopia, the dress came flowing out.

 The fabric quality, the craftsmanship, the needlework, the threading, the overall cut of the dress- it was absolutely immaculate and exceeded every single one of my expectations. I could not wait to wear this gown.

 February finally arrived and much like most of our family weddings, the entire weekend turns into a little staycation for us. We drove up to LA and cherished each other’s company for the entirety of the weekend (my favorite part, really). My cousins and I are raised like siblings, so we all got ready together, one did one’s eyeliner, the other helped the other put on their eyelashes, another was scrolling through Instagram trying to find the best hairstyle that would suit another. The vibes were off the walls and I realized then how blessed I am to be surrounded by such wonderful women in my life!

 Just a little bit before we leave for the wedding, I come down to the lobby in my dress, and immediately, compliments are being thrown at me… and being someone who doesn’t like to spend too much time in the limelight, I quickly dismissed them and shrugged them off. But, by the time we made it to the wedding venue, they came rolling in non-stop: “Where did you get your dress?” “Why didn’t I see that dress in DTLA?” “OH- that gown was made for you!” and so many other wonderful words of praise were being showered at my direction all night.

 On my trip back from the ladies’ room, I was stopped in the hall by an auntie who is basically the Joan Rivers of the Afghan Community. “I just want to say, I have never seen a dress so perfect on anyone before.” I kindly thanked her and walked on over to the wedding hall when the chord struck me… is this something I want to do? Then and there, I was enchanted with the idea.

 And that is how Lady Inaya started.

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