Take Five: Meet Marlis Fyke, owner of The White Dress and wedding dress aficionado


Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and for some of us, it means helping our kids choose cards to distribute at school, for others it means buying flowers or making a reservation at a fancy restaurant. And for others, it could mean someone popping the question, which in turn means thinking about wedding dresses – and that’s where Marlis Fyke comes in. Fyke owns The White Dress in Corona del Mar, owns wedding gown boutiques in Los Angeles and Miami and is opening a second White Dress shop in Bozeman. She personally bought seven dresses for her own wedding before narrowing it down. When it comes to bridal couture, she’s our local expert, so I caught up with her to learn more.

Take Five Meet Marlis 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of Marlis Fyke

Marlis Fyke

Q: I know you have an amazing story about how you started your business. Can you share it with our readers?

A: I worked at Nordstrom through high school and college and Nordstrom is that customer service, all-in establishment. Coming from there, and having shopped where I shopped, I saw room for improvement. I told my fiancé, “I’ve always thought about the name The White Dress…” I used to own the domain name, The White Dress, but I had given up (the idea of a business.) I thought, “You know what, this is a great change for where I am in technology and something I want to do and pursue.” So I did it. Three months later, I had a business plan and leased space in Corona del Mar. We were engaged for three years because we just enjoyed being engaged. It was so much fun. I wore multiple dresses from my store for our wedding. I was one of my own first customers. I bought seven, and I wore three. I wore one for the rehearsal, one for the ceremony and one for the reception. The first one was a beaded sheath dress for the rehearsal dinner. The ceremony dress was more conservative. It was Sex and the City days back then, with the flower on the neck, you know, the halter neckline with the flower on it. And then a corset, mermaid gown with a blue ribbon in the back for the reception. 

Q: What are the biggest wedding dress trends for 2022, and who are some of your favorite designers?

A: Trends – long sleeves and high necklines. If you look at Paris Hilton’s wedding dress, Galia Lahav did one of hers. That high neckline, that old-school traditional, that’s in style right now, which is so amazing. We have lots of those coming in. We worked with Paris; she was wonderful. So friendly and lovely. She came into our store in L.A. multiple times. She got a Galia Lahav dress from the L.A. store. Other trends – I would say even detachable sleeves off the shoulder. That sexy look was in, that really sexy, low back look. And it’s not like it’s gone. It’s just that people are now becoming a little more traditional with these exquisite laces that are really hard to find. It’s all about that. We we have a lot of colorful dresses coming in. The Bella dress by Galia Lahav – that’s what I mean. Galia Lahav is my ultimate favorite. I own the store in L.A. and Miami for that designer as well. Rivini is also amazing. It’s got clean lines, really well made, minimalist. They also have lots of beautiful lace gowns, too. But more of that simple, strapless gown with lace, that type of look. With Galia Lahav, they have the long sleeves and the dramatic trains and the different blush colors with different layers of tulle underneath that make them frothy. Every one of their designs is a piece of art, really. They are made to measure if you want them to be. We take 20 measurements of the body, so they come in fitting really well. Also, another designer is Ines Di Santo. She is just a beautiful woman from Colombia who is now in Canada and her dresses are exquisite. You can go online and see any of these gowns. If I were getting married today, I would want the long sleeves. I would want a really long veil and long sleeves, but I would want to be young again. I want to go back to 25 years old, not in my 40s. And definitely, Galia Lahav. I know the designer so well, and the gowns fit the body so well. Also, short dresses are making a comeback.

Take Five Meet dress

Click on photo for a larger image

“Renata,” an Ines Di Santo creation, features a high neckline, long sleeves and a full skirt with layers of tulle

Q: What tips can you offer a newly engaged woman when it comes to dress shopping? What do you wish brides knew before they walked through your door?

A: Sometimes they will bring like 10 people with them. It’s not really helpful. I know it’s so much fun, but bring the core, special people that you want with you. It shouldn’t be just a party. It should be really your core group. You will want to focus. The budget. You have to always add in alterations because alterations are an additional fee, and they’ve gone up. Alterations used to be $300-$500. Now they are $800-$1,000. And if you want to do custom measurements – let’s say you are a different-shaped body, like you have a bigger cup size or just a different body shape –there’s special things you can do to tweak the dress versus buying a standard-size 8 and spending all that money altering it. You can open the cut, you can do a petite cut, if you’re shorter, you can do different things…you should ask your stylist if the designer you have does those different things. The designers I have mentioned all do those special cuts for different sizes. Petite cut is really important. Normal sizes are 13 inches from the hollow of your neck to your waistline, but if you’re 11 inches and you’re getting the 13-inch dress, it’s not going to look perfect on you. Sometimes we know a perfect dress the moment a woman walks in the shop. My employee, Cait, my manager in CdM, she is so good at that. She is so spot on that people just relish how she does it. She has a long detailed conversation with people about what they want before they come in and we take good notes. She gets an idea and she puts it all together. All the girls are very good stylists.

Q: What is the most memorable thing that’s happened at your shop with a bride-to-be?

A: This fiancé came in, and he had a bottle of Champagne that he delivered on ice along with roses and he gave us his credit card. He said his fiancée was coming in, and he said, “Whatever she wants. She can spend as much as she wants. Please don’t let her know, and when she decides on the dress, please give her this note, these flowers and pop open the bottle of beautiful Champagne.” I think it was Cristal. She found a dress, we did the whole thing, we gave her the note. She read it. She started bawling. It was really special. What a great guy to think of all that. It was so sweet. 

Q: How has the pandemic changed the wedding industry and specifically the wedding dress business?

A: The venues have changed. Many wedding venues closed during the shutdown and left brides without a wedding location. We’ve seen more backyard weddings. But they still need the perfect dress – or two!


Amy Senk is a long-time resident of Corona del Mar and a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.