Written by Jena A. Butterfield.
The bride’s wedding dress is a strapless confection of lace and tulle with a fitted bodice and a flowing train that’s been painstakingly stitched and detailed just for her by an artisan in Italy.
Yet unlike every other bride on the planet, she doesn’t care about the fit.
That’s because the dress in question is a miniature replica of her original wedding gown, gifted to her by her mother in what could be considered the ultimate keepsake memory of a bride’s special day.
“It’s textured and gorgeous,” gushes Darren Thomas Scala of D. Thomas Fine Miniatures, admiring the tiny dress from the outside of its display case.
The dress has been thoughtfully positioned by Scala next to a miniature version of the bride’s red-soled Christian Louboutin heels. The shoes (made by a second artist in Italy) are leather with a sculpted wood heel and metal buckles. A replica of the bride’s tightly bound flower bouquet lies nearby. It’s been created by a third artist in Spain and is comprised of 800 individually applied paper petals.
It’s a poetic vignette, lit from above, that showcases a meticulous approach. “There are artists out there making beautiful pieces,” says Scala, admiring the quality of the work and explaining that each artist has his own expertise. Scala’s job is to pull everything together to create a moment that is frozen in time.
“I bill myself as a curator,” he says as we walk around his shop in the village of Hastings-on-Hudson.
Brooklyn-born Scala opened his shop in late-2014 amid an influx of city transplants, who brought with them a market for all things artisanal. The growing hipster population in Hastings is a demographic ripe for the miniature medium, which covers everything from tiny food to mini mid-century modern houses.
“People are beginning to realize that a miniature can be anything from a cute and cheerful dollhouse to fine art and everything in between,” Scala says.
Scala’s retail shop is tucked away from the street at Moviehouse Mews, where the screen used to be when it was the Hastings movie theater. The shop includes a gallery exhibiting miniature work from a rotating cast of global artisans as well as interactive workshop space. His vision for the future of this once stagnant art has placed him at the forefront of its revival.
Perhaps the most striking example of a miniature entering the mainstream comes via a recent Instagram post by Mindy Kaling. The actress, who was given the gift of a “Mindy Project” set replicated in miniature, complimented it in the post. Scala collaborated with artist Michael Yurkovic to create the media-generating piece.
“My whole objective is to promote the miniatures world,” says Scala, who has a marketing background. “And what better way than to connect it to an important event.”
Enter MyTrueSo, Scala’s recent effort to preserve a bride’s keepsakes in the most memorable way. The name MyTrueSo is a play on the French word trousseau, meaning an assortment of things (clothes, household linens etc.) that a bride collects for her marriage. In Scala’s version, a bride can preserve the objects that made her wedding unique by having them created in miniature by artists around the world — the dress, jewelry, shoes, flowers, cake and lingerie, among them.
For the dressmaking process, material can be used from the actual garment or artists can work from a photograph. “The dress would be ideal,” says Scala. “Because the artist can get to that higher level of detail.”
But he emphasizes that it’s not necessary. “That’s where artistry comes in,” he says. It’s possible to create the illusion of perfection using materials that are not from the original. Plus, photographs can be ideal if you want to keep the miniature a secret from the bride.
Scala suggests bridal parties can band together to give it as a collective gift. “It’s unique and custom and reflects a bride’s signature style,” Scala says. “And who doesn’t want that reflected back to them as a gift?”
After launching MyTrueSo at a recent bridal event, Scala says interested participants wondered if the miniature keepsake could be transferred to other big life events like, say, the birth of a baby. “Yes,” answers Scala emphatically. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
If you’re a bride-to-be, or someone who loves her, MyTrueSo may be the bespoke gift you’ll be buzzing about. In the bridal industry, news travels fast.
It’s a small world, after all.
For more, visit dthomasfineminiatures.com.