David McCaffrey: Ottawa’s Leading Bridal Couturier Ventures into Eveningwear

“You will never have a dress that fits better.”

That is a promise that David McCaffrey, the designer behind Ottawa’s leading bridal boutique, McCaffrey Haute Couture, makes to every customer. He knows better than most that from a family birthday to celebrating a win on sports betting Canada after your favourite team has been victorious, everyone likes the opportunity to get dressed up for a night out.. 

McCaffrey explains that each individual woman who visits his boutique has a unique look, and he takes that look and brings it to life with a dress sculpted around her body.

“My dresses are a way for women to express themselves – the dress is a representation of that person in a gown. They are brought to the finest point of who they are,” he says.

Everything McCaffrey makes is custom, creating patterns, which are cut to each client’s body to ensure they receive the perfect fit. The designer uses his samples for styling – women can see which styles they like best, and then work with McCaffrey to develop the dress of their dreams.

Up until just over one year and a half ago, McCaffrey was making only bridal gowns. He has now added eveningwear and cocktail dresses to his repertoire, citing the similarities between evening and bridal as a logical expansion for the company. “It has given me a chance to do more as a designer, using different colours and fabrications – it’s fun!” he says.

McCaffrey uses only the finest 100% silk, all natural fibers, for his gowns, and enjoys exploring the different weaves by working with them in a way that utilizes the fabrics’ natural properties. With over 45 different silk weaves at his disposal, McCaffrey refuses to even use a blend.

The designer visits Europe every year to buy fabrics for each season, working with the same manufacturer who supplied the material used for Duchess Kate Middleton’s wedding gown. He generally chooses to stick with solid tones and intricate lace for his gowns. “I’m not keen on tons of patterns on the actual fabric, as it can distract from a woman’s beauty. I want to work with shape and use the fabric to create interesting silhouettes,” says the designer.

Each of his gowns is complete with a built-in corset, made with silk and boning to be both functional and comfortable. Designed in Ottawa, the custom pieces never leave the city until they are finished. McCaffrey, who says that he has “the most incredible seamstresses in the world”, works with a talented team who execute each design with undeniable skill and care. “The team I have love it here (in Ottawa), and I love it here – we have one of the best store locations in the city,” he beams.

The designer describes the relationship he builds with clients as “bringing happiness and joy to people’s lives”, and seems truly humbled in his role on their special day. He describes one experience where a client, an RCMP Officer from P.E.I., who was posted away from her fiancé, came into the salon for a fitting while her husband-to-be waited in the front of the boutique. However, says McCaffrey, “she was just so in love with him that she decided to walk out and see him while wearing the dress.”

He smiles at the memory. “Those kinds of things make what I do worthwhile.”

With clients like these flocking to the renowned designer, McCaffrey has a comfortable spot at the top of the bridal industry. So how did it all begin?

“Years ago I went driving around the United States with a beat up Oldsmobile and a collection of wedding dresses in my trunk. This was shortly after Vera Wang took off – before that there was no such thing as a couture wedding dress.”

McCaffrey explains that he would take the dresses around the country, knocking on doors and gaining knowledge of customers’ and stores’ needs. The first time he went to the New York market 26 stores bought the line. Famed bridal boutique Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City has carried the line for 14 years, and McCaffrey Haute Couture gowns have appeared on the popular TLC television show ‘Say Yes to the Dress’.
His evening and cocktail dresses are just as stunning as his bridal gowns, and he puts an equal amount of effort and dedication into creating these custom dresses.

The designer works with each individual client’s skin tone and body shape to find a colour and fit that is most flattering, and ensures his designs are at the fashion forefront. With his first ever evening line, McCaffrey used a sophisticated colour palette of white, black, and darker colours. “They tend to bring out a woman’s best features,” he explains.

McCaffrey describes his designs as classic, timeless and feminine, and is often inspired by nature when designing his gowns. He also uses his partner, Christina Selin, as his muse, regularly designing a dress around an event they are to attend.

One such dress is a gorgeous strapless black lace floor length gown, the lace is elegantly offset by a champagne coloured silk. The gown was designed for Selin’s cousin’s wedding, and is now part of McCaffrey’s first collection of evening dresses. In a word, the dress is breathtaking – a stunning silhouette that rivals any red carpet gown I’ve seen.

Another gorgeous piece in the collection is a slinky black silk number, a sexy slit showing off the length of the model’s legs. It has a low cut back, a plunging v-neckline and delicate straps, with a ruffled skirt that seems to be inspired by waves in water. This is one hot dress, and would be perfect for a night of dancing.

With the addition of this line of evening and cocktail dresses, the McCaffrey Haute Couture label is a growing business with an exciting future ahead. The designer is looking forward to creating beautiful, one-of-a-kind evening wear for his clients, and has already designed for one very famous individual: Kate Middleton.

McCaffrey gifted Middleton with a dress using an exquisite Chantilly lace over sand-coloured taffeta. He says that it is very in line with what the duchess tends to wear, made to fit her classic style. “I hope she wears it,” says the designer.

With his incredible talent and reputation, I have no doubt that she will, and we will soon spot a photo of Middleton in a Chantilly lace v-neck dress with the caption “Middleton wearing McCaffrey Haute Couture”.