In the world of wedding fashion, your name is your trademark. From unique couture dresses to breezy ready-to-wear styles, these five emerging designers represent the next class of high-style designer names to be remembered. Move over Ms. Wang …
The island of fashionista – Tamara Catz
Looking out the picture window of her oceanfront studio on the island of Maui, Tamara Catz easily understands that a sweaty bride in satin and tulle is not well suited for a beach wedding. Instead, she envisions a dress that “can make a girl walk barefoot in the sand with the man of her dreams – flowing, feminine, simple”. 36-year-old Catz modeled her line of romantic bohemian wedding dresses based on her airy sensibility.
Born in Buenos Aires, she spent seven years creating contemporary resort clothing before feeling the artistic urge to break into the world of bridal fashion in 2007. “A wedding dress is probably the most special piece of clothing a woman will ever wear, so I knew that my bridal designs could be a little more dreamy and unique than those used for my everyday clothes,” says the 36-year-old. The Hawaiian-inspired designs are characterized by relaxed, feminine shapes, simple cuts and organic accents like seashells. Rather than overwhelm the bride, Catz’s simple silhouettes and light, flowing fabrics “make a woman feel like herself”, which she believes, “the traditional Cinderella-style wedding dress doesn’t always do that.” Of course, they are best at home as alternative beach wedding dresses, and many are even versatile enough to wear after the wedding. The best thing about this special day, however, is that a Catz design feels just as refreshing as sand between your toes.
The Custom Duo – Miosa Bride
“Miosa” combines two names: Michael and Sanea Sommerfield. Miosa Bride combines two visions: that of a husband and a wife to produce the highest quality couture in one surprising place. Sanea, 42, from Sacramento, California, brings her business expertise and insight into the female psyche, while Michael, 46, draws on experience sewing outdoor clothing in his father’s shop and running a tailor’s shop in Sacramento . “For him, sewing is like breathing,” enthuses Sanea. “I am still amazed most of the time by his understanding and knowledge.”
The decision to stay in Sacramento despite a zip code with no obvious couture culture was partly an attempt to give the capital high style, but also a personal one. “We had four children and the family didn’t want to move,” explains Sanea. “Family comes first, so we had to build a business that could work here.” Their exquisite fabrics and design techniques have earned them a local following, and now that the kids have grown up, the duo plan to start nationally branding this year.
The consultation phase is an essential part of creating your dresses. The team takes detailed measurements to create an initial pattern that will accurately mimic the bride’s body in terms of her comfort. They then collect information about her and her wedding so that they can incorporate their personality into the dress, whether soft fabrics for a romantic one or a daring silhouette for a sophisticated one. The garments are then individually cut and sewn in-house, often using silk fabrics imported from 100 percent from Europe. The result is a couture dress that is inspired by the natural aesthetics of the woman who wears it.
The green pioneer – Deborah Lindquist
Deborah Lindquist raised a few eyebrows when she launched a line of daywear made entirely from recycled fabrics in 1983, long before the terms “eco” and “green” were coined. Lindquist grew up on a farm in Willmar Minnesota, surrounded by gardens, orchards, and corn fields. She was 5 years old when her grandmother taught her to sew. “Life on the farm has awakened my respect for the earth, and I knew that if I wanted to have an impact on the fashion world, I had to do it in a way that was true to my love for the environment,” says the 52nd year old Year old.
Lindquist highlighted a 2005 fashion show with a hemp wedding dress that attracted national interest – from brides blogging about it to one USA today Article on aid in agriculture in which it was presented. In 2007, Deborah launched a green wedding collection made entirely from recycled materials, hemp blends and soy silk.
If the idea of wearing hemp sparks thoughts of itchy, ill-fitting clothing, brides can rest assured that these luxurious, highly stylized dresses are more suitable for a stroll on the red carpet than a stroll down Haight-Ashbury. Lindquist’s clothes look romantic and feminine with a certain sharpness. Detailed lace, pearls and ribbons embellish your creations with a touch of elegance, while flirty bustiers and corsets give an innovative aesthetic. At a time when your wedding greening is oh-so stylish, your designs can help you carry that commitment to the environment – and look great every step of the way.
The southern beauty – Suzanne Perron
A fashion designer, rooted in a culture of debutants, oversized weddings, and Mardi Gras queens, seems somehow destined to create sumptuous white prom dresses infused with timeless elegance. For New Orleans-born Suzanne Perron, this ambition was rooted when she received her first sewing machine from the Easter Bunny at the age of 5. “I dreamed of making beautiful romantic wedding dresses that reflect the traditional aesthetic of this beautiful historic city,” she recalls.
First she had to learn her trade by studying with Carolina Herrera, Ana Sui and Vera Wang in New York City. Thirteen years later, homesick, Perron returned to New Orleans to set up her bridal boutique.
Suzanne’s designs are clearly inspired by the city’s culture and famous architecture. On their dresses, you’ll find pintucking, which mimics a fluted pillar in a mansion in St. Charles, or beadwork inspired by the intricate filigree and plasterwork that completes door frames and ceilings across town.
She admits that she “doesn’t want to be fashionable” and instead describes her designs as “one-off white and ivory dresses,” despite the many stylists and editors who insist that color is in fashion. It is a natural union for a designer who continues to make a name for herself in a city where traditions are preserved and celebrated.
The beautification artist – Mariana Leung
For Mariana Leung, it is the smallest detail of a wedding dress that offers the greatest self-expression. “I love that the embroidery lets my imagination run wild as I can customize an ornament for a woman of any shape, size, taste, and budget,” she explains. “No other aspect of a wedding dress allows such freedom.” Leung has channeled this creative phase since childhood when her father convinced her she was talented enough to make her own clothes. “Every time I asked about an outfit in a shop window, he replied that I could make a better version of it myself,” she recalls.
Leung honed these skills while designing couture embroidery for the top bridal houses – Monique Lhullier, Vera Wang and Giorgio Armani. “Bridal was the perfect fit because it’s the only outfit that is based on emotions rather than practicality and offers more room for creativity,” says the 34-year-old. Now she is applying that experience to her own clothes, which she has designed and built around an intricate embroidery pattern. Most of their brides bring a motif, such as the detailing of an heirloom piece of jewelry or a pattern from a grandmother’s wedding dress. Others read Leung’s “lookbook” with embroidery patterns for inspiration.
For such a personal, hands-on experience, Leung has a surprising number of customers outside of town. For a project, a bride emailed a picture of flowers from her family’s backyard, and Mariana designed a bolero jacket with fabric appliqués inspired by the flowers for the bride to wear over the simple dress she had already bought would have. “The project proved that customization and luxury can be affordable,” she says. “You just have to get a little creative.”