Good Taste in Fashion

When Ken Stephens was trying to come up with a creation for this year's West Michigan Wedding Association Bridal Show, the self-taught confectioner had a sweet idea: drape the bride in chocolate.

"At first, I was just kind of saying it," said Stephens, co-owner of MiraBella Confections in Grand Rapids.  "I had no idea how I was actually going to do it, to be honest."

Stephens figured it out and, with his six employees, has spent the better part of a month working on elements of the knee-length wedding gown made almost entirely of chocolate.

Model Leah Turner will be dressed from head to toe in the sweet stuff for the show.  Her ensemble will include a bouquet of 30 long-stemmed chocolate roses, a Swarovski crystal-encrusted chocolate tiara and stilettos with chocolate-and-crystal brooches.  And yes, everything but the crystals will be edible.

An estimated 50 pounds of chocolate will be used on the dress, and Turner won't be able to sit down, but Stephens said she will be able to walk the runway with relative ease.

"And after we put her all together, we'll stick her outside so she won't melt," Stephens said.

He designed the dress working from sketches drawn by a customer.  The design has since evolved.

"It's kind of like the cake decorating thing, it just comes instinctually," he said.

"That's the fun part of it for me.  I want to play when I'm creating."

Stephens didn't know the idea had been done before-on the Martha Stewart show and at Chocolate Week in New York City, to name just two.

But Stephens, who owns MiraBella with partner Alex Lovelorn, said his creation will be one of a kind.  Most of the pieces will be made using Switzerland-based Callebaut chocolate. 

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