Bombay Brides

Christian weddings in India's biggest city

Bridal Vendors ~ Michelle Rodrigues: Seamstress

In my home, it is understood that my near-reverence for bridal gowns is to be treated with good humour and a generous dose of patience. I am helplessly drawn to a standstill each time I pass by a boutique with wedding gowns on display and who can blame me. To me, these perfect concoctions of lace and tulle and all sorts of lush fabrics are undoubtedly woven from someone’s dreams.

Bridal gown designer Michelle Rodrigues Mumbai

The fascinating Michelle Rodrigues is one such dreamer and Bombay Brides couldn’t be more excited to present her as the first ever seamstress to feature on this site.

Seamstress Michelle Rodrigues

Michelle Rodrigues in one of her creations

Operating under her label Michelle Rodrigues, this Bandra girl fills her boutique on Veronica Road (Bandra West) and the nearby workshop where she teaches design with creations that speak of her lifelong fascination with clothes and the simple joy of creating them. Trained as a designer and pattern-maker at Sophia College and SNDT, Michelle loves making clothes and fashion illustration.

 “The curiosity with regards to dress was inescapable growing up with three girls. I started with making dresses for friends and my sisters. They would get the fabric for dresses I designed for them and I would go on to make them. This gave me plenty of opportunity to experiment with cuts and styles. It was fantastic.”

Her journey began in grade eight, when she began to show an interest in pattern-making and sewing clothes; but it was in reality a sense of frustration with the tailors who were unable to do justice to her designs and sketches that had Michelle give a serious thought to taking up the needle.

Some of Michelle's early sketches

Some of Michelle’s early sketches

Willing friends and sisters – Michelle’s first clients, kept her supplied with enough fabrics and opportunities to experiment with styles and perfect her fledgling hobby. She moved on to learning a wider variety of cutting styles from her teachers and threw herself headlong into drawing, sewing and everything related to the art of dressmaking in the following years.

cocktail dress sketch Michelle Rodrigues

Michelle’s sketch for a cocktail dress

Post-college, Michelle spent a decade in Muscat, where she taught design at a university and ran a clothing workshop  and experimented with Arabic design and fabrics. By 2011, she found her way back to Mumbai where she took up research in cultural theory related to dress-making. Michelle was ready to start her own brand of women’s wear.

“In terms of design, my earliest inspiration was Raghavendra Rathore I absolutely loved his minimalist design style with clean and neat cuts. I also adored the craftsmanship of Shahab Durazi’s work. His passion for detail, cut and finish was very inspiring and that further fueled my interest in pattern-making.”

Michelle Rodrigues party wear sketch

Sketch for a cocktail gown

Her own wedding gown sparked Michelle’s foray into Western bridal wear. In her search for seamstresses to stitch her a strapless bridal gown, she was told by one that while the gown would be strapless, it wouldn’t be possible for her to guarantee that it would stay up. A disbelieving and determined Michelle took it upon herself to prove the seamstress wrong and went on to stitch her own wedding gown.

Michelle Rodrigues bridal designs

Some of Michelle’s favourite bridal designs

From special occasion dresses, flower girl frocks and bridesmaids dresses to bridal gowns, Michelle has been creating bespoke bridal wear for more than three years.

Flower girl dress Michelle Rodrigues

Flower Girl dress by Michelle Rodrigues

Today, Michelle Rodrigues’ cutting style and design sensibilities stand out like a breath of fresh air in Mumbai’s budding but limited market of original Western bridal wear. Textures (particularly embroidery and lace) inspire her and the wedding dresses she designs, allow her to indulge her creative side.

Signature Michelle Rodrigues bridal gown

A signature Michelle Rodrigues look

“The most interesting design brief was a five-year-old little flower girl who said, ‘I want to look like either Barbie or a princess’. We went ahead and made her look like a princess.”

Where the dresses she designs are concerned, Michelle favours a minimalist design sensibility; her signature style emphasising structure and clean lines. Silk is the fabric she loves to play around with the most and relishes watching the brides who come to her studio for their wedding gowns fall in love with the expensive and extremely attractive Chinese, Swiss and Chantilly laces.

Michelle Rodrigues design sketches

Sketches by Michelle

Laces favoured at Michelle Rodrigues, Bandra

“Brides-to-be are full of energy, geared up for one of the most important day of their lives. It is great to work with this energy. I feed off on it, as it is so inspiring. It is easy to make a dress but it is the stories that give it life.”

While her favourite cuts do play an important part in the design process for a bridal gown, Michelle is one of those seamstresses who seamlessly adapt to the bride-to-be’s tastes. She firmly believes that wedding gowns ought to reflect the personalities of the bride and that her duty is in helping them express it best in aesthetics and form.

Seamstress Michelle Rodrigues

Bridesmaid gown and bridal gown designed by Michelle

“My job here is to walk with her (the bride-to-be) through the decision-making process and help her make an informed decision. I illuminate design theories in the context of her gown and I then go on to make her dream wedding dress.”

A fan of the vintage bridal aesthetic, Michelle hopes to see (and be instrumental in) designs from the 20s, 30s, 40s and the 50s make a comeback in Mumbai’s Christian bridal scene. The cathedral look with delicate lace detailing and the trumpet silhouette especially are already finding themselves back on the block.

bridal gown embroidery

A hand-embroidered bodice

“The trends in Mumbai over the past three years, have been rather conspicuous. Three years ago, the heavy draped and layered Vera Wang inspired dresses were sighted. The last couple of years saw tulle make a comeback, and with it, the princess look (feathers, bling and flowers).

In the Gulf, ‘more is merry’ is usually the norm and wedding dresses become a beautiful canvas for embroidery artists. However, the difference between local and international designs is closing rather quickly. The variance, I think is mostly in the approach to dress making and the access to good raw material.”

Michelle Rodrigues cocktail gown

A tailor at Michelle’s workshop works on a cocktail gown

Taking on clients on an appointment basis months before the wedding season starts, Michelle and her team of skilled tailors take anywhere between 6-8 weeks to work on a bridal gown. The sewing and fitting processes are extremely personalised and Michelle accompanies the bride to purchase the fabric. Cutting each dress after carefully understanding the bride’s figure is also her responsibility and Michelle follows it with a toile fitting and three more fittings before the gown is ready for the bride to wear.

Embroiders working on a wedding gown

Michelle’s embroiderers at work on a wedding gown

While Michelle Rodrigues caters essentially to the Mumbai crowd, the label also offers its services to Christian brides from India living abroad or living elsewhere in India and with no access to an experienced Western bridal gown seamstress. She encourages brides to give her a call or send her an email to work out logistics and emphasises, “While it is easier and preferred to be physically present for fittings, it is not crucial for having a well-fitted dress.

Michelle Rodrigues cocktail dress

Party wear designed by Michelle

Special occasion gown Michelle Rodrigues

A Maid-of-Honour’s gown designed by Michelle

Walk into her studio on Veronica Road, and one will find clothes for the bridal entourage, the mother-of-the-bride/groom, cocktail dresses, Indian wear (including sarees) and even her own line of ready-to-wear and handbags. The styles are mostly formal and created in silk and proudly sport the Michelle Rodrigues label.

Michelle Rodrigues bridal gown designer

A bride wearing a Michelle Rodrigues bridal gown

So next time you are stuck for a tailor who can bring your dream wedding gown to life, pay Michelle Rodrigues’ studio a visit or view her online portfolio and her Facebook Page and get in touch with her for a dress fit for your special day.

Michelle Rodrigues business card

Are you a bridal seamstress or know one who should be featured on Bombay Brides? Check out the Wish to Feature Here page to know more about finding space on our blog.

Please make sure you read the Need Help Browsing page before you use the photos and information contained in this post.


10 comments on “Bridal Vendors ~ Michelle Rodrigues: Seamstress

  1. Jess Hopkins Fernz
    June 24, 2013

    keep up d good work

  2. Marathi Weddings
    July 19, 2013

    Every picture made me go all awww.. She is mindblowingly fabulous! How did I take so much time to spot you!! I loved your blog. So nice to see a bridal blog for Mumbai!! :) :)

    • Ree
      July 21, 2013

      Thank you so much, Aditi, especially for saying hello. Very glad I got to know about a fellow bridal blogger like you out here!

  3. Sandhya Lopez
    December 2, 2014

    Please share the address of her boutique in Bandra

    • Ree
      June 21, 2015

      Hi Sandhya, the contacts provided in the post above are the best way to get in touch with Michelle.

  4. Morien Moses
    February 6, 2015

    Hi , I am looking for a bridal gown for my wedding.. can you please help me out with it.

  5. Hemangini
    June 13, 2016

    Beautiful blog ma’m… Love the dresses and the different ideas. Me and my sis are trying to make a dress for my niece’s first birthday but we haven’t yet found the flower design material… haha your blog is a big help. thanks a lot :)

    have a wonderful day

  6. Niti arora
    August 27, 2016

    Hi me niti from Ludhiana punjab me looking for d contact of Michelle in bandra

  7. Ana
    November 1, 2016

    Initially Mitchelle use to be very good… but lately i have had a bad experience with her.. she ruined my very expensive dress… i guess she has too many customers now and just can’t focus like she use to before

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Header image: Hannah, a bride from South India, photographed by Bhagirathy Samudram Background: DinPattern's Aloha Turkey
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