Who's Who At New York International Bridal Week

by The Daily Front Row

(NEW YORK) Bridal designers from Alabama to Israel were reeling in international retailers from over 35 countries and 100 companies at the New York International Bridal Week trade show at Pier 92 last weekend. “Attendance was up 40 percent and the biggest trend we saw was lace as well as cap sleeve and long sleeve dresses,” said Stephanie Ambuehl, the show’s marketing director. The Daily was on hand to chat with the hautest of haute to see who’s taking the cake this bridal season.


Heidi Elnora, designer:
What accounts have you signed at the show so far? 
I’m in Nordstrom, so that’s really fabulous. We had 26 appointments yesterday back-to-back. We only do one store per state, because I really want my dresses and my girls to feel special.

Is there a store you would love to sell in?
Besides Nordstrom, my bucket list involves Bergdorf’s. I feel like Sweet Home Alabama when she’s like, “I’m in Bergdorf Goodman,” and the woman with the baby in the bar is like, “I don’t even know what that is!”

You were on Project Runway Season 2. Was it stressful?
Super stressful! I showed up with my hair in a ponytail and jeans and cowboy boots and everybody had faux hawks, piercings, and tats. I was intimidated. Now I’m confident and proud to be from Alabama. Things can be done wherever you live as long as you try hard.

Your lavender floral dress is gorgeous. How did that come about?
I flew to Paris to the Premier Vision show, and I found this beautiful print. It’s a silk jacquard that was hand-screened in Italy and hand-made in Alabama. They’re watercolor brush strokes so there will be no two dresses that are the same.

Abraham Maslavi, owner at Jovani Fashions:
You’re rebranding the bridal collection. Tell us about that.
We were doing bridal as an extra, but now we’re doing bridal as a bridal company. So we’re offering everything in three lengths for example; the cathedral length, the middle length, and the regular length.

Any unusual client requests?
All the time. All the older ladies are 70 years old wearing prom dresses as a wedding dress. It happens all the time. Everyone’s looking to be young.

What is the most popular bridesmaid color?
I think a lot of hot pinks are becoming very popular. We also do a very big second wedding business. That’s what a lot of the cocktail dresses sell for; like destination brides.

We hear you donate dresses for charity!
We donate a lot of dresses, but even beyond that, I’d like to make a foundation and call it Jovani Cares. It’s a responsibility when you get successful that you have to take care of other people. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Jessica Brown, owner and designer at Ivy & Aster:
How long have you been designing bridal?
This is the line’s third year. I have previous bridal experience with other designers so I’ve been in bridal on and off for 15 years. We have had pretty consistent traffic at the show, which is nice.

What is your favorite thing to do when you visit New York?
Seeing a lot of our stores, who I feel like are my friends, such as Lovely. I love to see our friends from Toronto called White. They have a store in Montreal as well.

What are your favorite restaurants to wine and dine in while you’re in New York?
I went to Indochine last night and saw Jason Wu. We were very excited! He was constantly being approached by other people and we felt like he was with his friends so we left him alone.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
We do an eclectic, feminine, girly, fun whimsical line for $1,200 to $3,000. It would definitely appeal to a DIY bride who likes special little touches.

Nir Moscovich, CEO at Berta:
Your mother-in-law is one of the top designers in Israel. How did it get started?
We worked in Israel, and were very famous there. Then we started working in the states. We had a trunk show in Manhattan at Cymbeline & L’Fay Bridal, and it was very successful. We closed this booth at the last minute because about six or seven boutiques wanted to meet us. We have more than doubled our appointments.

What did your wife wear on your wedding day?
She wore three very unique custom gowns, one of which had a 20-foot train. My wife, Hila is a model and our wedding was featured in Grace Ormonde magazine.

How did you and your wife meet?
We met in the army on a very big operation, the disengagement from Gaza. I was a commander of troops in basic training, and Hila was a commander in the course, teaching them all the material.

How did you decide to get into the family biz?
I’m part of the family, but I have a law degree and I was in a big corporate law firm in Israel. I worked previously in another international company who exported a lot, but in a completely different industry. So I had the knowledge about the business side.

Rafael Cennamo, designer:
What’s new this season?
I used to have one line that was white couture and now for this season we started two other brackets so now we have White by Rafael Cennamo that starts from $1,100 to $2,000 retail. And then we have the other line that is called White Collection, which is from $2,000 to $4,000. The couture starts from $4,000 and up. 

How would you describe your line?
I’m a very body conscious designer that tries to embrace elegance. I have different personalities; that’s the way that I design bridal. I don’t have specific inspirations. Of course, I try to get inspired all the time by these things that make it romantic and beautiful, but for me it’s mostly about the personality of the bride. 

James Clifford, designer:
How long have you been in the business?
I’ve been in the business for 52 years. We’re owned by Steve Lang of Mon Cheri. I worked at Priscilla of Boston for 19 years, and I did Luci Johnson and Tricia Nixon’s weddings. When I was in California in the early ’90s, I worked on Hugh Hefner’s wedding to his second wife.

What was that like?
She wore a separate cape with the dress, and she wanted a big heart in the back with his initials and her initials. It was a bit hoaky!

Who else have you dressed?
I designed a dress for Sydney Biddle Barrows who was known as the “Mayflower Madam.” She was famous in New York. She was a blue blood from Philadelphia that was running one of the most expensive call girl services in the city. She got arrested, but she later got married, and I got a lot of publicity out of that dress.

What did her dress look like?
She originally had a dress from Fabrice, but it was in Pepto-Bismol pink. She was like, “I can’t wear that!” You know, she was conservative. I knew one of her girls so she introduced us. I made her a dress from a soft blush dress and she was happy. She told me once, “Now you can say you went from Whitehouse to penthouse to whorehouse!” 

Kim Stuart, vice president and national sales manager at Casablanca Bridal:
You guys have a huge booth and a big collection!
Actually, it’s not. We break two times a year with our main line with only 21 new dresses. But since we own our factories we never discontinue a dress. We have over 2,000 dresses in total, but our new collections are generally small.

Is there a retailer you are looking to sign?
No, it’s crazy because we can’t open enough. We are chasing our own production right now. We can’t make dresses fast enough!

So this show is mainly about repeat customers for you?
We protect our current customer base so we may have a small store that we’ve been selling to for three or four years that does minimal reorders and there might be the most amazing store right near them, but the owners of the company refuse to give up on the small store. We’re the champions to drive their business so we are pretty unique in that way.


Betsy Robinson, owner at Betsy Robinson:
What are the biggest selling styles in Baltimore?
My Baltimore ladies love lace or very clean dresses. Our number one brand is Watters. We also sell Claire Pettibone pretty well for the artsy bride. I just saw Amanda Garrett, and I thought it looked great. They had a very simple charmeuse and we’ve been looking for a good charmeuse.

What’s it like trying to sell a look for a defining moment in time?
A lot the clients watch these TV shows, and they think you’re supposed to bring eight people with you. I mean you didn’t take eight people out with you to find a groom! The dress should be a surprise. You don’t need all of Baltimore knowing what you’re dress will look like.

How long have you been in this industry?
I’ve been coming to New York for the shows for 38 years. This season has been fabulous. I like to bring my staff with me. I like to hear their opinions and their younger eye.

Andrea Whitehead, owner at House of White:
What is your best selling brand?
Watters is huge for us. There’s a lot of different styles in the collection so it speaks to a lot of different brides. The quality is always consistent. We also do really well with some of the JLM brands like Tara Keely and Alvina Valenta.

What price points sell the best for you?
Around $2,000, but our price points start at $1,000 and go upwards of $4,600. We’ve thought about stepping it up. Getting a Lazaro or Monqiue Lhuillier would be really great.

Do you have to deal with any tough to please clients?
We don’t have as many bridezillas as we do familyzillas! I’ve thought about putting up a sign about words not to say in a bridal appointment, like “fat.” It shouldn’t be said anywhere!

Alexis Williamson, artistic director and buyer at Le Salon Bridal Boutique:
How did the show go for you?
Better than expected. We were pleasantly surprised for an April Show how many new inspirations and trends were coming out. We also love The Daily’s coverage. The Daily is so much fun! It’s great for brides to get the inside scoop for bridal. It’s short, sweet, and there’s great witty writing.

What are the big trends you saw this season?
Art nouveau influences of organic laces on necklines, sleeves, and low ornate backs. Dramatic accesories to complete the look such as beaded lace collars, cap sleeves, and fluid back jewelry. Jazz era beaded sheaths by Jenny Packham take the cake and classic Hollywood charmeuse and chiffon bias cut dresses with adorned backs dripping pearls were to dye for by Rafael CennamoFor Pnina Tornai lovers, more Isreali designers are now emerging in the U.S. for the “va va voom” fairy tale corsetted gowns such as Liana Couture.

Who are your biggest sellers?
For our vintage classic deco brides, it’s Jenny Packham. For our classic brides who love couture but want unique, it’s Paradiso Collection which are exclusive styles created for our boutique with all of our designers. For refined structure and fabric snobs, it’s Junko Yoshioka. For Pnina Tornai lovers, it’s Liana Couture. For our NFL and VIP custom bride, it’s St.Pucchi Couture. And for our international European and South American clients, it’s Rosa Clara Couture.

Did you buy anyone new and interesting this season?
Rafael Cennamo! Amazing!


Walk down the aisle with us this October when we cover next season’s Bridal Week!