07/25/2011 01:43 pm ET | Updated Sep 24, 2011

San Francisco Gowns for Brides-to-be

Bringing a literal, eco-friendly twist to the something old, something new refrain every bride-to-be** hears sixty-five million times is Daughters of Simone, whose newly-available array of reconstructed vintage wedding gowns offers an affordable alternative to the traditional dress.

Designers Brittany Castanos and Christy Baird update gowns plucked from secondhand sources into feminine frocks with retro appeal. With many options for casual weddings and free-spirited brides, not to mention those on tight budgets (dresses are currently priced from $110-$400), this duo puts offers a take on aisle style that we can appreciate. Along with gowns, the Daughters' etsy shop is stocked with accessories, including vintage bridal belts and frilly handsewn garters.


We caught up with Castanos and Baird recently to chat about girls, gowns and the Simone who inspired it all.

What inspired the name Daughters of Simone?

We loved the idea that before you are someone's wife, you are someone's daughter. There's an innocence there that we wanted to capture. We also wanted our name to connect with strong femininity, something we're both equally passionate about. The name Simone was taken from the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. Christy studied her in college and was very drawn to her ideas and philosophical perspective. She was a rebel of her time, going against conventional expectations to strike out on her own with unusual ambition and strength. Nothing about her life was "run of the mill," and everything seemed to be on her terms. Simone de Beauvior's life and philosophy are the key means and inspiration for where we are and what we do. In many ways we aspire to be like her. Simone truly was a rare bird. And we believe because of her, we can, in our day, look at marriage as an extraordinary decision.

Where do you source the gowns you reconstruct from?

We find our bridal gowns from every place you can imagine, but mostly by scouring through thrift stores and hitting up our Saturday morning garage sale routine. Lately though, as word has spread through our family and friends, we've been lucky enough to have dresses handed down to us. All of our dresses are then dry-cleaned and ready for re-construction.

What inspired you to choose wedding dresses for your collection. Is there something about bridal wear that you are particularly drawn to?

To be honest, we found ourselves frustrated with the sameness of today's traditional bridal gown and were at a loss as to where we would be able to find our dream gown if the day came that we would be looking. We both feel strongly that "the dress" should represent the woman, and what is out now currently only seems to represent one type. Because of the generations of women before us, marriage isn't something we have to do anymore. We are more career-driven, headstrong, and encouraged to live the life we want rather than the life we're supposed to live. Marriage is a choice for women, something that is decided out of a great love, a love that doesn't make sense any other way than to be shared together. We see our woman as an individual. This is not just any other bride getting married, and the dress must show that. This is what inspires us.

Since we both seemed to find these qualities of individualism, creativity and beauty in vintage clothing, we began to look into the possibilities of vintage bridal. Unfortunately, we found so many of the dresses to be too out-dated for today's styles. But the fabric was there, and so was the vision, so we just began turning them into dresses we would love to wear, and it slowly came together from there.

What does your line offer brides that they might not find elsewhere?

Daughters of Simone offers one-of-a-kind, timeless, vintage bridal gowns. Each gown has an original story that our brides breathe new life into... We are dedicated to using quality material, while also staying in budget. Above all, we care about the happiness of each and every client. One of the best part of this passion project has been getting to know each of our brides personally, and we look forward to befriending more in the future.

For more, check them out on Facebook or read musings from Brittany Castanos on her blog Champagne & Sequins and from Christy Baird on Octavia Minor.


More San Francisco bridal fashion...

Photography courtesy of Tatum Mangus for Daughters of Simone

**Here's hoping the right to marry soon becomes a legal reality for all, as it should be.