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Home / Behind the Seams / The Story of Maria…..from Muse to Magic

Lookbooks & Style Guides, The Kiyonna Blog

The Story of Maria…..from Muse to Magic

As an online retailer of women’s plus size clothing, it’s a thrill to be able to connect with women all across the globe who choose Kiyonna to express their personal style. Knowing we are part of some of the most memorable days in someone’s life fuels our passion for fit and fashion. We love hearing stories from our customers….everything from “I haven’t worn a dress in years, but I love this one from you” to “My husband couldn’t take his eyes off of me.”

Although reviews and pictures make our hearts swell, there’s nothing that compares to the experience of meeting one of our lovely customers in person. Situated inside our headquarters in Anaheim, we created “The Boutique by Kiyonna” over a decade ago as an escape from the digital world of online shopping and the cookie cutter experience of a department store. Featured amidst the crystal chandeliers and delicately wallpapered walls, you can find the entire Kiyonna collection (as well as a few one-of-a-kind gems) and meet real Kiyonnians (the brilliant and humble team behind the brand).

A very special customer walked into our boutique last November. Up for the challenge of helping her find something just right, we were able to channel our roots and our passion of being skilled dressmakers.

Meet Maria.

Maria discovered us first in a sea of dresses on After a little digging, she found out that “The Boutique at Kiyonna” was located just down the street from where she lives in Orange County. With her step-daughter’s wedding fast approaching and because of her important role as a guest of honor, she paid us a visit in order to find something beautiful and comfortable for this special day.

As our team helped her with dress after dress, it wasn’t until Maria stepped out of the dressing room in the iconic Mademoiselle Lace Cocktail Dress in rich navy floral lace that her husband’s face lit up. His reaction was instant and he made it known how beautiful he felt she looked right there and then.

That dress was the one…almost.

Although the dress was a hit, there was a small problem. Rather than a midi-length dress, Maria wanted a floor-length gown. That’s when Carrie, our charismatic Boutique Manager, stepped in and suggested we create something custom just for her. Because we have a patternmaker, seamstress, and design team on staff at the offices in Anaheim, it was just a quick walk to our design department to ask if we could play fairy godmother and make the perfect dress happen.

Measurements, Magic, and Pixie Dust

“I just met a girl named Maria”….exclaimed Carrie to the design team. Well okay she didn’t say exactly that but we had to make the West Side Story reference. Anyway, Maria was then introduced to two magic makers on the Kiyonna team, our patternmaker Faina (aka “Fairy Godmother of Fit”) and production and product development manager Zac (aka “Zac of All Trades”). Our gifted Kiyonnians at once started to measure, ask questions, sketch, and get excited about what we could do. After a few rounds of designs and a wave of our magic wand, the style that came to fruition was a long version of the Mademoiselle in the same rich navy lace but with pockets! The dress was adorned with scalloped lace along the neckline, ¾ length sleeves, and an A-line skirt with a scalloped hem.

“Being 5’10”, in my 50’s, and plus size, it’s usually a challenge to find something that isn’t frumpy and which offers the length I need,” said Maria. “To have something custom-made for me is something I haven’t experienced as an adult – not since my prom days. Also, as an operations manager for a packaging company, I was struck by the heart and happiness of the Kiyonna team.”

A Gorgeous Step-Mother of the Bride

Maria happily left our boutique with her gorgeous custom-made gown in hand. The wedding took place at a stunning outdoor venue called Botanica in Oceanside, CA and we were ecstatic to see how beautiful Maria looked in her dress.

The Maria” makes its Debut in February 2023

Through this process, we not only fell in love with Maria and her story, but with the dress that she inspired. Her custom dress – first of its kind – is now available to all our customers. We of course, named it after our muse, Maria.

We hope that the Maria Lace Evening Gown continues to make many more beautiful memories for our customers, just as it did for her.

And to Maria, thank you for letting us play fairy godmother and allowing us to be a part of your special day.

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