Born and raised in the former Soviet Union, Yelena and her family did not have much. “Everyone had to wear the same things, you wear your uniform and everyone had to be equal in everything. My grandmother was the one who made clothes and showed me how to make patterns, cutting and measuring. It was so awesome to see something different.” By the end of high school, the Soviet Union fell and Yelena studied at a Russian design school for 4 ½ years. Coincidentally, Yelena’s sister Larisa lived in Italy and sent her high-fashion magazines and expensive fabrics from throughout Europe. As her first customer with high standards, Yelena created a suit for her sister inspired by a haute couture designer. Yelena explains, “It taught me how to be very precise.” With clients referred by her sister and the latest clients associated with the Russian mafia, Yelena’s boutique created original designs for the wealthiest citizens.
With her American husband, they moved to the US and Yelena started from the scratch. After spending time in Italy, Rhode Island, Boston and Toronto, she came to Greenville through her husband’s professorship at Clemson University. The marriage ended and Yelena decided to stay. Simply put, “I love Greenville. It feels like my hometown.”
Yelena Exclusive Atelier boutique is in the Village of West Greenville and specializes in custom-designed wedding gowns, mother-of-the-bride dresses, mother-of the-groom dresses and debutante dresses. She also designs all types of special occasion gowns and causal women’s attire. Yelena Exclusive Atelier has gained popularity and momentum due to her incredible design, attention to detail and excellent people skills.
Yelena personally meets with each client and takes the time to understand her ideas and desires for her dress. She considers body structure and personality in order to “…empower them on their special day and help them feel special. Plus it has to be something unique. Not everyone can have a custom dress, there’s a lot more work involved than buying it off the rack. It’s all individually cut, all the layers and seams. It’s so specific.” The range is $600 and up, depending on their budget, which Yelena follows respectfully. All work is hand done to the highest standards of quality.
Yelena takes your measurements and builds a custom pattern that only belongs to you. She has many regular clients and will keep your pattern and modify it as necessary.
“Fabric stores are like my Disney World.”
As a confessed fabric junkie, Yelena tells us how “...it’s fun to take an inexpensive fabric and make it into something really cool." This fabric was $5 per yard and is mixed with 5 yards of pricy silk chiffon. LOVE it!
Yep. She’s talented. We turn our heads for a moment, and Yelena sketches a new dress design, selects a fabric and pins it to a mannequin with unbelievable ease.
“Each one of my designs is unique. From concept to fittings to finish, my name is on the dress, so it has to be perfect. I take a lot of pride in my work, including all the details, inside and out.” Yelena Crosston