Balenciaga Wedding Dress: Not every bride saves a dress for her wedding, but Monica Sallai, aka @sartorialscraps, inadvertently bought her wedding dress secondhand ten years before her wedding. The software marketing manager has always been obsessed with archival fashion and currently spends her free time assembling her collection, which includes a Cardi B-approved cyberdot jumpsuit from the Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 1995 show and an entire collection of rare Comme des Garçons and Issey Miyake pieces. Also in her collection is a rare Balenciaga dress from the 2006 fall collection designed by Nicolas Ghesquière, which the 29-year-old bought in New York 10 years ago at Goodwill and wore to her wedding in May 2019.
Although Sallay never considered herself a “wedding person,” the Balenciaga dress was her dream dress. Before entering the world of programmatic marketing, Salleigh attended the Parsons School of Design and lived on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. An avid shopper, she often stopped by the Goodwill store a few blocks from her apartment. “I spent all the money I made over the summer [during my internship] mostly on clothes,” she says. “It was a little therapeutic for me.” One day in 2011, while walking past a Goodwill store, she caught a glimpse of a short white dress in the window with embroidery and a scalloped neck. “That dress in the window completely melted my heart, especially the way the embroidery was done,” she says. “I was just obsessed with the way it looked.”
Upon arriving at Goodwill, Salleigh went to the salesperson and tried on the dress. “When I buttoned it all the way up, I remember looking in the mirror and just triumphing because I was so happy it fit, and it was Balenciaga,” she says. “My heart was pounding because I was so excited that no one knew about it. When I saw it, I knew it was going to be my wedding dress.” Sallay bought it for $100, leaving only $50 in the account. Back home, Sallay did what any fashion aficionado does when he gets his hands on a special piece: She studied it. “The first thing I did was look it up on Style.com because I wanted to know if it was runway,” Sallay says. “The dress was from look 21 in the fall of 2006. I remember taking a screenshot and posting it on Facebook saying, ‘Best Goodwill result of my life.'”
A year later, a friend of Salleigh’s in Indianapolis mentioned that she had a friend with whom Salleigh could connect. Although she was still in New York, Salleigh and her now-husband James began chatting on Twitter. They decided to meet up once she returned to Indianapolis during summer break. “We had so much in common, and we ended up spending every day of that summer together,” she says. In October, Salleigh moved permanently and transferred to Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, where she studied computer graphics. They’ve been together ever since. “What really sets him [James] apart is his heart. Even before I met him, he was immediately supportive and accepting of me and continues to be my support to this day,” she says. “He learned about me and my fashion. With me, he had his first experience as an Instagram boyfriend.”
Salleigh was ahead of the trend for small, intimate ceremonies; they got married in May 2019 at a courthouse in Indianapolis and then spent their honeymoon in New York and Hawaii. “I definitely remember that morning when I put my dress on, I was nervous, almost like I was getting married and there was going to be a ceremony.” Sallay created the look with a veil cut from the tulle plume of her mother’s wedding dress, and the $15 heeled shoes were purchased at a small Tekla Vintage store near Detroit.
Of course, despite the sentimental value of the piece, Salleigh still appreciates the dress’s place in fashion history. “It was amazing, and it’s still my best purchase at the store. I’ve never seen it resold anywhere online,” she says. “In my head, I always thought, ‘Who was the person who first owned this? What were they using it for? I have no idea what makes someone just give it to Goodwill in New York, but it’s amazing. It really gave me the opportunity to be the happiest person on earth as a 19-year-old in New York.”