A chat with Shari Lebowitz, Creative Director and Founder of BESPOKE DESIGNS

Photography by ChiChi Ubiña

LOOK loves getting the scoop on Parties and with the launch of our WEDDINGS section, we knew whose advice to seek. Shari Lebowitz is a fantastic resource with up-to-the-minute entertaining and wedding advice. Shari is the doyenne of custom invitations. She has grown her brand to become the sought-after design expert in the field. Beyond her invitations, she has created a beautiful gift shop and registry at Bespoke Designs in Sconset Square, Westport.

Shari on Current Trends: ‘Tis the season! Weddings are in full bloom!

  • Event venues are booking parties and weddings much further out. It used to be a year ahead; now it can be as much as two years in advance. This could explain why we are seeing a surge in engagement parties.
  • We’re delighted to start working with couples earlier in their wedding planning journey.
  • It’s not just weddings – we see a boom in parties of all kinds: birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations.
  • Entertaining at home – whether for a specific holiday like Easter or Passover, to celebrate the change of a season, or simply to get together – is strong. We see entertaining at home as the very biggest trend overall. The dinner party is back!
  • Elegance and classic bridal style as seen so beautifully in Naomi Biden’s White House wedding.
  • Wild Welcome Parties that are festive and all inclusive. Most weddings are a destination wherever they are, whether it’s in Greenwich or Aspen. Guests travel and arrive hungry, thirsty and looking for each other. Couples are kicking off the wedding weekend with a true welcome party that has a distinct theme all its own.
  • Ceremonies take place earlier in the day, even in the morning, followed by a luncheon. Then everyone can rest up for the big party in the evening.
  • Bespoke guest gifts that are meaningful, lasting, and in some cases taking the place of the traditional welcome bag.
  • Wedding cake designs are influenced by invitation motifs and artwork along with toppers that are personalized and charming.
  • Original artwork is very strong for us. We offer couples the opportunity to commission personally meaningful paintings, prints, portraits and venue illustrations. These precious designs are used in many wonderful ways, such as wallpaper for the bar, designs for the dance floor, and for gifts. The original art belongs to the couple forever.
  • Color is in! We find couples have more color confidence and are embracing the use of color and pattern throughout their design vision.
  • Hand calligraphy remains very strong for us. Hand lettering styles that are colorful and wild and expressive are super-hot.
  • We are designing with more textures and printing on unexpected surfaces.

Ceremonies, tradition, welcome parties, cake design and color…

Themes for Parties – anniversaries, birthday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs and collaborations:

  • We work with some amazing planners who are the drivers for the event themes. We work closely with them to bring their theme to life, starting with invitations and building visual touchpoints throughout the event.
  • Bespoke Designs has its own in-house designers, so everything is uniquely our own.
  • For smaller at-home events, we often participate in developing themes and creating a special look and feel.
  • We love these fun mitzvah themes: Lightning Strikes, Fire & Ice, Technicolor Candy, Pop Art, BoHo Whimsy, and Disco Fever still boogies on.

Services: Calligraphy, stamping/mailing…

  • Some of our couples are delighted by the process of assembling and stamping their invitation suites, and we say woo hoo! We’ll give you and your love squad detailed instructions and off you go. For the most part however, our ace in-house crew manages white glove assembly, stuffing, stamping and mailing.
  • Curation of vintage stamps is a service we offer that many couples love.
  • Creating thematic elements for the day-of guest experience is very strong: cocktail napkins, hand towels, cups, matches, signage, programs, escort card seating and menus for starters. We offer this service when we have done the invitation design.

Themes for Weddings:

  • Top wedding theme for 2023 is color! Neutral and barely blush will always remain, but we are seeing brighter and moodier color palettes.
  • We are seeing the embrace of patterns and texture used everywhere from bridal party attire to dance floors.
  • Fewer “signature cocktails,” more one-sip cocktails and mocktails menus.
  • Printed bar furniture. From the designs we preview in an envelope liner, we are blowing up the patterns and creating wallpaper to wrap the bars. These designs are visually stunning and so much fun!
  • After parties are much more over-the-top, transitioning into entirely different themes from the main event.

BESPOKE Shop + Registry

Products and Sourcing

We travel to the major trade fairs in the US and Europe, as well as regional and craft fairs. Sourcing can be a logistical challenge, but we are committed to bringing customers our best and most interesting finds. Our cashmere travel wraps always help! It’s quite wonderful having international legacy brands like Bernardaud, Rosenthal, William Yeoward, Richard Ginori, L’Objet, Royal Limoges, Match Pewter, Deshouliers, Reynaud and luxury cutlery designer Alain Saint-Joanis. We are also thrilled to be working with artisans like porcelain painter Marie Daâge in Paris, crystal designer Richard Brendon in the UK, and luxury candle company Onno in Belgium. It takes time, passion, hard work and trust to forge relationships with smaller artisans. We bring in their work from around the United States as well as from Turkey, Columbia, Portugal, South Africa, India and Vietnam. We’re proud to represent these artists.

Bespoke Designs is unique because…

Although the true definition of bespoke is focused on a made-to-measure item, for us it is not just about one item, it’s our ethos for the entire client experience. We want your time in the shop, working with your registry specialist, or creating with your invitation designer to be meaningful and special. We are all about building relationships with our customers and providing everyone with a personalized, bespoke experience. As a team, we bring a distilled design sensibility to the art of entertaining. We are mission focused on elevated essentials for entertaining and for every day. Friendly, approachable service and custom creation are core elements of our brand. We see the Registry process like the invitation process – it’s an immersive experience. Your Registry Specialist will create mood boards to show you how to use the selections you are considering, how to use your everyday pieces, and how to envision your table for special occasions. Yes, you may host your new in-laws for the holidays. We will make sure you are entertaining with ease. Need help setting the table? Count on us! 

Our local Fairfield and Westchester customer base is extremely sophisticated and loves our creative approach. We also have a loyal national customer base that follows us very actively.

The beauty – and mystery – of digital marketing is how many customers have found us from almost every state in the US and Canada as well. It is a joy to engage with our customers and followers.

Hostess gifts, birthdays and seasonal:

Candles of every variety continue to be quite popular. We have a wide range of lacquered color candles – twists and spheres and cones – that are wonderful gifts. 

Barware is essential for any party and we have everything you’ll need, whether it’s shaken or stirred. My current favorite is the Match Pewter mixing glass with cocktail strainer. So chic!

We’re mad about putting flowers in unexpected vessels. Whether it’s crystal from William Yeoward or a vintage Hôtel Silver coffee pot or a painted ceramic love jug – gift these pieces with a posy of flowers and you’ve got a real winner.

The Ginori Doccia Cake Plate is also a favorite. Add our beloved ginger snap cookies – or other treats – and your hostess will adore you. By the way, this versatile piece is not just for sweets – you could easily use it at Sunday brunch for smoked salmon dotted with caper berries.

Nashi Resin pieces are wonderful gifts. We love the rope handled ice bucket in black or white paired with a lovely bottle of rosé…just saying.

Outdoor entertaining will continue to expand – we can’t wait for parties at the pool, the beach, or in the garden!

Gift registry services and benefits will continue to expand. If you have a milestone event in your future – a wedding, a big birthday, or if it’s simply time to refresh your dinner service – we invite you to register at Bespoke Designs. Yes, of course it’s all on our website, but an appointment is requested for an in-shop registry consultation.

We will be keeping every season fresh and full of surprises. Come visit us in Sconset Square!

Bespoke Designs
8 Sconset Square
Westport, Connecticut