On Friday night, Kate and I were thrilled to attend the launch of Malachi Empire’s Wildflower Collection: 21 bridal gowns designed and handcrafted by South Australia’s own Sok Hoffman. The Wildflower Collection signifies a new era for Sok, who has been creating custom gowns for five years, and working in the bridal industry for over eight years. Over the last two years she has put together this collection, which will be available for purchase through bridal retail stores. The first store to stock the Wildflower Collection will be Adelaide Brides and Bloom, from September this year.
Growing up, both Sok’s mum and aunt were sewers. She says that the soundtrack of her childhood is the constant hum of sewing machines, often buzzing well into the night. When her mum would leave the house, Sok would sneak into the sewing room and play around on the machines, eventually making full dresses. She can’t recall a time when anyone sat down and taught her how to work a sewing machine, she just watched and learnt, and eventually she absorbed enough knowledge for the skill to become instinctual.
Once Sok finished school, she knew that dressmaking was her calling, but the rigidity of formal study did not sit well with her personal style. Sok did not finish her course, but that has not been an impediment to her blossoming couture business. Starting out doing alterations for bridal retail stores, Sok once again had an opportunity to learn. She got a feel for how gowns were constructed, how the pattern pieces fit together, and began to develop her own preferences which would become her signature style.
Five years ago, after cutting her teeth on evening wear and Mother-of-the-Bride gowns, Sok opened her own bridal couture business, Malachi Empire. She has a retail store on Grenfell Street, in Adelaide’s city centre, for client meeting and fittings, but does the hard work from her home studio in Virginia. Her dedicated sewing room houses 9 industrial sewing machines, but she says she still yearns for more space, especially for pattern making and cutting.
Sok’s gowns have appeared at the Adelaide Fashion Festival for the last three years, as a way to promote her custom business. The Wildflower Collection is her largest collection to date, and will be her first standalone show. As her business grows, and hopefully sales of the Wildflower Collection come flooding in, Sok plans to employ sewers to assemble the gowns. Although, as most small business owners will understand, she is having a hard time coming to terms with letting go of some of the work. Sok says that while she enjoys the design process, creating the pattern and the detail work, it takes a bit more effort to sew the dress together and put on the finishing touches, such as the zips and hems.
Malachi Empire will continue to be Adelaide’s premium bridal couture destination. This year alone, Sok has worked with 28 clients to design and create the gown of their dreams, It takes around three months to create a custom gown, with six or seven fittings, and costs between three and six thousand dollars. Sok starts by inviting her clients to try on a few designs, to get a feel for what shapes suit their body and personal style. Then they talk through the client’s ideas and look at swatches of fabric and lace. Next Sok completes a sketch and creates the pattern, which she uses to make a calico mock up of the finished gown. Sok says that the calico gowns are her favourite stage in the process, and she keeps, and stores, every one that she has made. After final changes are made to the calico design, Sok gets to work on creating the final gown. It takes around six weeks for the finished product to be ready after the calico fitting.
Sok has used her experience with custom gowns, and brought together the most popular trends, to create the Wildflower Collection. She says the collection has a focus on ivory, vanilla, and blush tones, with white no longer being the obvious choice. Halternecks, lace sleeves, flowing skirts, and fishtails all feature prominently in the lineup.
Sok, who is also a mum to two gorgeous girls, has her work cut out for her in the next few months. She is currently booked out until March next year with custom gowns, the Wildflower Collection will make its debut in-store in September, and she hopes to travel to Melbourne and Sydney to hold ‘designer days’ at several boutiques to launch her collection interstate. Although the next few months will be busy for Sok, she says the love of creating beautiful wedding gowns keeps her going. We certainly wish her all the best!
Please go to her website for more information, and to keep up to date with stockists of the Wildflower Collection: http://www.malachiempire.com
Feeling the love,