Sunday, December 20, 2009

Culture Bridal Couture has arrived - our new name!

Merry Christmas and happy Silly Season to all!

Here at Culture Shock Couture, we've had the busiest Spring/Summer season EVER with so many gorgeous wedding gowns being created for our recent brides. 2009 has certainly been a big year for weddings - and we've seen our brides choose a big variety of gown styles, from the beautiful flowing Grecian-inspired gowns, to lots of stunning French Lace designs, and our always-popular Oriental-inspired looks, too. As the year 2009 draws to a close, my team & I are feeling pretty happy with ourselves... it's such a great feeling when we see the fruits of our labour (ie- our beautiful custom-made wedding dresses) being fitted for the last time on our brides, and the big smiles ( & sometime even tears of joy) as they look in the mirror and see how AMAZING they will look on their wedding day!

A couture bridal gown is the result of many months of hard work - a unique style individually designed especially for each bride, her colour & fabric selections, then measure-up & patternmaking, then expert tailoring, fine hand-stitched embellishments & detailing, and generally around 4 or 5 personal fittings. It all comes together magnificently to result in a totally unique and perfectly-fitted gown that is ALL ABOUT THE BRIDE - not only should it look & feel incredibely beautiful, but it should also express each bride's unique personality & passions. A couture gown should represent that bride in every way- her loves, her beauty, her lifestyle, her heritage and her spirit too!

With all that in mind, we have some VERY exciting news - Culture Shock Couture is about to have a new name! Since I launched my bridal label back in 2001, it's been called "Culture Shock" and my designs have always (and will continue) to embrace different cultures from around the world. However, my label has also evolved over the past 9 years, and my designs are so much more diverse now, with lots of rusched and draped looks, beautiful Retro-inspired gowns and heavenly vintage-themed French & Italian Laces also infuencing each wedding dress we create.

In order to represent everything we do, i have decided to re-name my label "Culture Bridal Couture" and we have a FAB new
logo and website to celebrate our evolution! Yayyee!! But don't worry, it's still our same experienced & caring team, & we will continue to be devoted to each and every bride we have the pleasure of working with! We pride ourselves on our personal service, relaxed & friendly atmosphere, highest quality fabrics and workmanship, and most importantly our totally original bridal designs that have evolved to truly offer Australian brides a fabulous alternative to the "big white meringue" on their wedding day!
So, i hope you like our new name, and my team & i wish you all the very best for a FABULOUS Christmas and a wonderful, exciting and fun-filled New Year!
Peace & love & Christmas Pudding, xx Lisa Merton

Top Left image of our"Mon Cherie" pink/latte tulle gown, photo by Dario Gardiman
Top Right image of our bride Yasmine's wedding, photo by
Middle Left image of Vicki's island wedding, photo by
Bottom Left image of our Grecian-inspired bride Anthoulla, photo by Andrew Kennedy
Bottom Right image of our Japanese-inspired bride Alannah, photo by

Monday, November 2, 2009

Latest BRIDE magazine featuring Culture Shock!

What a busy wedding season I am having this year - more Culture Shock brides than EVER before, so it's been an exciting, energetic, highly productive and rather exhausting few months for my team & I!

And to add to our current "buzz" of excitement, the latest BRIDE magazine has hit the newstands, with page after glossy page of the latest Culture Shock Couture gowns being featured - woo hooo!! This issue also highlights one of my recent brides' wedding story, a fabulous 4-page spread with the lovely Allana and her husband Nima both looking soooo happy and FABULOUS!

The fashion pages are bursting with beautiful photographs, all shot by the amazing Peter Collie, at various locations around Sydney and beyond... for one of the editorial stories the BRIDE team travelled to Coalcliff, NSW, and shot in the most divine waterfall and parklands (without even getting my sample gowns marked at all - well done, guys!!)

I've attached some of the photos here, which also feature the skilled hair & make-up artistry of Paul Bedggood, including an AWESOME up-do which i just adore.

As a designer, it's really rewarding and invigorating to see my gowns so beautifully photographed and styled in ways that I may never have thought of myself! When i design wedding gowns i guess i have a vision of the kind of bride that might wear that particular cut, shape, fabric or colour - and then i see someone totally different to my original vision (like the
models shown here), wearing the gowns so perfectly, as if designed just for them - it's such a great feeling and never fails to surprise or delight me!

Grab a copy of the latest BRIDE magazine, Issue #60, (look for the green cover) at your local newsagent, or visit their website at www.

Catch you soon, now back to all those gorgeous gowns we need to finish...

cheers, xx Lisa

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tamaiya and Dan's GORGEOUS wedding

It's such a fabulous & extremely satisfying feeling when my team & I receive our client's wedding photos... often it's months after they have come for their final fitting, and we have said our "goodbyes" to the gown & the beautiful bride we created it for. Then we receive a CD or a set of prints in the post and....WOW!

It's just so thrilling to see everything come together - our gown, the bride with her groom (whom most of the time we have never met!) her accessories, lovely hair and make-up & stunning flowers, and all the fine details & specific elements of the whole day pieced together as one, like a magnificent jigsaw puzzle finally being completed!

So I'd like to share these photos with you, from our recent bride Tamaiya. She married Dan in the breathtaking "Hunter Valley Gardens", a few hours from Sydney in wine country - and was blessed with the most perfectly sunny day! The Japanese pagoda where their ceremony took place, surrounded by the wonderful Autumn flowers and foliage, not only suited her Oriental-inspired theme, but also provided shade for all the guests and bridal party.

Tamaiya's 4-piece Culture Shock Couture gown was custom-made for her with a STUNNING cherry-red vintage kimono, featuring white blossoms, black dip-dyed edges and delicate hand-painted detailing. The custom-made white silk faille gown underneath was our base, layered on top with a detachable fitted waistband, and a separate bustle/train, and a jacket to finish it off - these 3 pieces all made from that very same kimono. We accessorised her 2 bridesmaids with matching narrow sashes at the waist, also from Tamaiya's kimono.

Looking at these wedding photos gives me great pride in the design, workmanship, quality and originality of everything that Culture Shock stands for... it's always a team effort and as long as we have brides who are daring enough to try something a little different, we will always be here & ready to create gorgeous & unique bridal gowns! A special thanks to all my team, who work so hard to achieve these wonderful results... I certainly couldn't do it without you all, keep up the amazing work!

bye for now,
xx Lisa

Thursday, July 2, 2009


We recently did a FABULOUS photo shoot of a brand new COUTURE BRIDAL sample gown that I am absolutely thrilled with! Fresh from my studio workroom, this totally original Culture Shock design will soon be appearing in bridal magazines and on my website, too. We have named it the "Origami" Gown...

My team & I created this pure silk wedding gown with the ancient Japanese art of Origami (paper folding) in mind... we used a metallic silk for the bodice, which we folded, draped and tucked into an asymetrical neckline. The diagonally-shaped waistband actually wraps firmly around the body and ties at one side with twisted silk cording, and little hand-made fans, to visually slim and cinch in the waistline, and there are several deeply folded vertical pleats in the skirt, to add length and height to the bride's figure. The gown has a full train at the back, which can be hooked up for dancing, etc.

The overall effect we were aiming for in this new design is a SCULPTURAL SILHOUETTE with a fuller A-line skirt, so that brides with OR without curves can happily wear this beautifully flattering style with confidence and ease. With a hoop petticoat underneath for hemline fullness, this Couture wedding gown is "traditional"in a way, but with a funky, modern Oriental-inspired twist. AND its actually very comfortable to wear!

The brand new Origami bridal gown sample is now available to try on in my Sydney showroom, and can be ordered & custom-made in any colour and size, with a 4-6 month turnaround. For more info, email me via my website!

cheers, xx Lisa

The photo's here appear with thanks to our WONDERFUL style team -
PHOTOGRAPHER William Siauw from "PiXeL Photographics"

MAKE-UP & HAIR- Danielle Hampton from "Make Up By Danielle"

MODEL - the lovely Tereza


Friday, May 22, 2009

Wedding Gowns with a touch of COLOUR!

A bit of excitement and action here in my studio this morning....the "Sunday Telegraph" newpaper just visited me, photographing & interviewing a bridal client of mine, on a story about "Colourful Wedding Dresses" and the fact that these days, more & more brides are wearing non-white bridal gowns.

This very subject is something that i have a keen & rather passionate interest in.... in fact, the whole basis for my label "Culture Shock" is to provide brides with a colourful alternative to the traditional white "meringue"!!!

I really believe that these days, alongside certain wedding traditions we can also add a dash of individualism, personality and fun - and the wedding dress is a perfect chance to express these wishes. A FABULOUS & stylishly coloured wedding gown can make a great statement of who you are, what you like, your passions, and how you'd like your family, friends and especially your partner to "see" you. Of course, it can also reflect your cultural heritage (or that of your partner of families), or perhaps a culture you adore, such as the Exotic lands of Asia, or fascinating India with it's rich textiles and wild colours.

For many of my bridal clients, we create a unique wedding gown in white or ivory silk, then add just a subtle dash of colour, like a soft pastel japanese OBI waistband, or perhaps a beautiful cropped kimono jacket over a "white wedding dress". This way, they are giving a nod to tradition (the white or ivory) but also adding a personal touch which is also more flattering to their skin tones (the dash of colour) and we're creating a memorable and individual wedding gown that all the guests will LOVE and talk about for years to come!

Red is definitely the colour i get requested for the most - and done well, red can look magnificent againt white or ivory. But it needs to be done cleverly, so you don't look like a "football supporter" rather than a fashionable & chic bride! Of course, in other cultures, RED is THE wedding colour for brides (India, China & other parts of Asia) and also represents wealth, happiness and rich cultural its universally known as the "colour of love"!

For my bolder and more adventurous brides, this grand opportunity to wear their favourite colour on their wedding day - proudly & with much pizazz- is just irresistable! Over the years i have created exquisitely coloured weddings gowns in the deepest Purple, BLUES from soft pastel shades to deepest Midnight Blue, Silvers and Golds, Burnt Orange, Emerald Green, Peacock-inspired Teal, Hot Pink, and every shade of RED you can possibley imagine!

So, i hope that the ongoing trend for embracing colour in the realm of bridal fashion lives on, and that it becomes not just "unusual" but the "norm" in years to come!
Til next time,
xx Lisa
Top Left image of our bride Natalie, photo by
Second Top image of our silver lace bride Kristy, photo by
Third image of our stunning red bride Kiri, photo by
Fourth image of our retro-themed bride in blue, Belinda, shot by
Fifth image of our fabulous purple kimono bride Kirsten, photo by Hamilton Lund
Final image of our dramatic red kimono bride Paz, shot at the Chinese Gardens
see our website for more -

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Intimate Beach Wedding... simple yet FUN!

I recently had some good friends fly over to Sydney to get married. Their needs were simple - they wanted a small & intimate wedding on the beach, in Sydney, with a relaxed yet exotic mood and a fun, child-friendly atmosphere. As they had travelled from Europe with their 2 young sons, they also needed their wedding to be affordable, so they could still enjoy their 2-week honeymoon/holiday here without "blowing the budget"! Sound familiar in some ways? Read on......
So we came up with a simple wedding plan that turned out to be PERFECT in every way - it was stylish yet relaxed, we were blessed with great weather, the bride Chantal looked BEAUTIFUL (of course Culture Shock made her designer gown!), the kids all had a ball, we found a lovely inner-city beach that was accessible and it was ALL very cost-effective!

Via the internet from their home in Europe, my friends Stef & Chantal sourced their Sydney wedding celebrant who was extremely helpful, and she organised all the necessary paperwork, sourced the beach location, and recommended a fab photographer who shot in film (rather than digital - a lovely change & it really captured the carefree mood and feel of the day!) The photographer then delivered a high-res CD with around 130 beautiful wedding images a few days after the wedding, so the bride & groom could organise their own printing and albums back home later on.

Meanwhile, i organised a white mini-van to transport all the guests to & from the beach & the reception (11 guests in total - i told you it was "intimate"!) and sourced a fabulous cake-maker who bakes delicious wedding cakes from home for very reasonable rates. I also made the decision to make the bride's floral bouquet myself - something i have never attempted before, but thoroughly enjoyed.

We booked an Indian Banquet Lunch at a local Indian restaurant, which was kid-friendly and suited the exotic theme of the groom & pageboys' wedding outfits - white Nehru-collared cotton shirts and casual white linen pants. We were able to have our (wedding) cake and eat it too - the tasty banquet menu felt very festive, the BYO wines were flowing freely, and the bridal table looked lovely with Chantal's bouquet & wedding cake decorating the white linen tablecloths beautifully.

Chantal's white silk georgette Culture Shock Couture wedding gown was made rather quickly, within 7 days of the wedding - not something i would attempt on a regular basis, but with advanced planning it was no problem! Luckily, the bride fell in love with a fabulous Grecian-inspired design i had featured on my website, so we had all the fabrics, trims and beading on standby & ready to be cut, sewn & fitted within a very short timeframe. The delicate silver Sari waistband was hand-beaded with Swarovski crystals, and the design had a split at the front, under the waterfall frill, so walking on the beach was a breeze. My wonderful team all did a fantastic job & we actually finished making the gown a day ahead of schedule - woo hoo!

The bride's jewellery was an easy choice - Stef had hand-made a necklace out of shells he'd collected from the beach on a seaside holiday previously, so Chantal wanted to wear that necklace as a symbol of their love & adventures together. And the bouquet HAD to have some franjipannis (the brides' favourite) so we collected the beautifully scented franjipanni flowers from local trees the morning of the wedding, then i wired them into the bridal bouquet of white roses, lizianthas & tiger lillies, with some greenery added for volume. Not bad for a first attempt at "floristry", i thought!

On the morning of the wedding, our fabulous make-up artist arrived for the bridal hair & make-up session... she did an up-do (bun), we pinned some franjipannis in the hair to match the bouquet, and the make-up look was fresh, natural & beach-friendly, without looking too "overdone"... our bride was made-up, dressed & ready within 2 hours!

I hope the photos you see here reflect what a fun, relaxed and very romantic wedding day it really was for Stef & Chantal - with their 2 young boys as the ring-bearers, and a few close friends as the guests, it was a truly special day and one that was absolutely enjoyed by all... The guests and the celebrant all loved kicking off their shoes and walking barefoot on the sand, & everything felt so easy & totally carefree! The celebrant spoke beautifully and the cermony was short, sweet & personal, the photos were all shot on location on Milk Beach & Strickland House (as a majestic backdrop). As for the kids, they were all easily entertained with the sand, ocean & seashells, & we were all blown away with the stunning views of Sydney harbour right behind us!

I have listed our "DREAM TEAM" of suppliers for this wedding below, and highly recommend them for anyone looking for a simple beach wedding in Sydney.

until next time, xx Lisa

Wedding gown - Culture Shock Couture
Celebrant - Pauline Fawkner -
Photographer - MIke Locker -
Make Up - Dee O'Keefe - ph 0437 264 475
email Dee at:-
Cake - Katie Loffler - email -
Wedding ceremony venue - Milk Beach, Strickland House, Vaucluse (Nielsen Park)
Reception venue - Darbar Indian Restaurant, Glebe

Friday, March 13, 2009

Culture Shock Couture scores our first FRONT COVER!


Beautifully shot by the fabulous photographer Peter Collie, this latest issue is jam-packed with gorgeous gowns, helpful articles and lots of real brides & grooms' weddings... plus the fashion shoot spreads include 4 Culture Shock gowns, and there's also some really interesting reading on "Eco-friendly weddings", for which i was interviewed. Our lovely ivory "Vintage Patchwork Gown" got the green-thumbs up, being made from recycled laces and fabric off-cuts, as did my work with antique or vintage fabrics such as Japanese obi's, kimonos & Indian saris, which are very environmentally-friendly.

Our "Mon Cherie" Couture gown, which is proudly featured on the front cover is custom-made from layers of dusty pink, latte and pale gold satins, silk organza's and tulles, and the rusched waist/hip section is made from a groovy new silk/metal fabric. The stunning pink pearl & Swarovski crystal necklace was custom-made to match the gown by Anna & Contessa at "Tessarella House" in Sydney's Paddington -

The lace bodice of the "Mon Cherie" gown is decorated with Swarovski crystal & pearl hand-beading, and lots of cute little hand-cut tulle flowers.... ALL expertly crafted right here in our Sydney studio , as is all our work. Of course, being a Couture design, this gown can be created in any colour, and adapted to suit each individual bride.

So for more info and even more beautiful photo's of our work - grab a copy of the latest Sydney BRIDE magazine, issue # 58... in newsagents around NSW now! Also available in Victoria (Melbourne BRIDE magazine) and throughout Australia (under the title Australian BRIDE magazine).

Ciao for now, xx Lisa

Friday, February 20, 2009

African Sewing Circle.... Multicultural fun!

Yesterday i had a richly rewarding & fun experience, which left me feeling very positive, happy & elated about the world we live in!

I joined a group of African refugee women in Coniston (Wollongong, 2 hours south of Sydney) for a community "sewing circle" to share my fashion knowledge and expertise, and to have a good old chat about the joys of sewing, pattern-making, fabrics, designing & making things with your hands! I have personally been sewing since i was 11 years old, when i took over my Mum's old Bernina sewing machine, & i find it very relaxing and soothing (unless i am in a crazy mad rush for a deadline- when it can be a little more stressful!!!)

The weekly community sewing group is organised by SCARF (strategic community assistance to refugee families) and run by a lovely friend of mine, Sarah Chisholm and a group of hard-working volunteers such as the wonderful Dot & Virginia. They use fabrics, patterns & sewing machines that are either donated, or purchased by the women or volunteers (for more info - email

The refugee women, mainly from African countries such as Sudan, Liberia and The Congo, are encouraged to create their own simple designs for funky handbags, water bottle carriers, casual shirts and dresses, etc, made from groovy vintage or African print cotton fabrics. The idea is to build a sustainable micro-business for each participant of the project, in which the women can then continute their work and sell their products at local markets and festivals, to earn their own income and develop their sewing skills further. Currently their work is sold at the local South-Coast NSW Coledale Markets on Sundays... for more info, check out the website:-

Many thanks to Sarah & all the lovely ladies for inviting me to join their weekly sewing circle - i was in total admiration of ALL your work, your funky designs and your combined team effort to build an exciting future for these truly inspirational & hard-working individuals... hope to be back there again very soon!

xx Lisa

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

my latest photo shoot - Japanese Beauty!

I'm excited.... i always get excited after a photo shoot, knowing that we captured some GREAT new pix, & seeing my designs "come alive" on our models, plus having a fun day being imaginative with like-minded people, creating beautiful images's definitely one of my favourite aspects of my job!

So check out these "sneak preview shots" from my latest "Japanese Beauty" shoot.... and these are just the images i took myself, on my little pocket-camera. When the official professional photos come thru, i will be adding them to my website gallery....VERY soon.

Both these one-off Oriental-themed Couture wedding gowns were custom-made from authentic vintage Japanese textiles, which i sourced direct from Japan. Can you imagine how divine this would look on a bride, on her wedding day, perhaps in a lush garden setting, or a sleek & stylish restaurant? Chic and elegant but at the same time, edgey and downright sexy.... and both these bridal gowns could easily be worn again afterwards, as eveningwear.

For this photo shoot, my model Eve had her customised make-up look specially designed by local make-up artist Simone Cozens, who did an amazing job... so if you're looking for a great make-up artist for your wedding, Simone can be contacted on ph 0424 948 593, and is available for weddings in Sydney and beyond, working with both hair and make-up... she comes highly recommended.

Stay tuned for more sneak previews coming up from another recent shoot i did up in the Hunter Valley of NSW... more NEW wedding gown designs, more exciting ideas, and more reasons to come & see me here in my Leichhardt studio!!!

Please feel free to email me via my website if you have any comments or queries, as you can tell from this blog - i love chatting about fashion and discussing my designs, and i feel very passionate about encouraging my brides to "think outside the square" and to be creative & ORIGINAL with their wedding gown ideas, to really express WHO YOU ARE and to celebrate your individuality!

cheers for now, xx Lisa

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bathing in the Golden Glow....

Happy "Australia Day" Long Weekend, everyone .... 2009 is already in full swing & the Culture Shock studio is a hive of activity, buzzing with energy & a bevy of smiling, happy brides-to-be!

In the past weeks i've met with lots of lovely new bridal clients, looking around for gorgeous gowns for their Spring/Summer 09-10 weddings. The Grecian-inspired look is still very popular, especially after the recent GOLDEN GLOBE awards, where we saw many stunning one-shouldered gowns and fabulous draped silk chiffon creations. Laura Linney's golden coloured Elie Saab Haute Couture gown was so beautifully fitted and expertly crafted, a joy to see.

It certainly was an entertaining night for fashionista's around the world to drool over....all those incredible Couture gowns were just breath-taking, i was glued to the TV for hours! The sexy Fishtail silhouette was seen in many fabulous versions on the red carpet, actually the DIVINE pale blue Dior gown worn by Drew Barrymore was surprisingly my favourite look of the night, big hair and all!!

I also loved Kate Beckinsale's fitted white J Mendel fishtail gown, which she wore so beautifully, and i can just imagine that on a bride - WOW! Slicked back hair, fab make-up, no necklace and big feature earrings... sleek, polished and just so elegant for a wedding day look.

Eva Mendes' funky Dior gown, again in white, also stood out as a potential bridal look, with that AWESOME necklace....the colours of those precious jewels against her tanned skin, exotic face & white gown was mesmerising!

Others worthy of a special mention from this designers' point of view were Elizabeth Banks' cleverly ruffled J Mendel gown, which was such a girly look but with a real vintage-lingerie look, and Maggie Gyllenhaal's blue leopard-spot Lanvin gown, which was a cool take on the one-shouldered approach.

And although i did think it made her look a tad too old and too sophisticated for her age, Rumer Willis's Reem Acra gown in Aubergine had a beautiful silhouette and the skirt section moved so well on stage. AND congrats to Salma Hayek, with those incredible womanly curves, who i thought looked pretty amazing in her Bottega Veneta gown, which fitted like a glove and was draped to perfection!

So now that we've got an appetitie for glamour....bring on the Oscars!! xx Lisa