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2012 October 16

From The Daily Brides: Rose in Bloom

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Lela Rose Lela Rose
Giorgio Niro
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(NEW YORK) A quintessential Southern belle with loads of fashion savvy, Lela Rose has always fancied a side of whimsy with her trademark elegance. (If you’ve seen her whizzing down Fifth Avenue on her bicycle, you know what we mean.) The same goes for her bridal line, which she launched in Fall 2006. Her only rule? No shine, s’il vous plaît! BY MARIA DENARDO

What inspired you to delve into the bridal market?
Our ready-to-wear collection has always lent itself to an entertainment-based lifestyle—you’re definitely going somewhere in our clothing. We felt like the ultimate place to go is your own wedding! 

Do you remember the first bridal dress you designed?
It’s still one of my favorite dresses! It was made out of muslin strips sewn together, and we called it “The Mansion.” That gown really epitomized what we do in our bridal collection, which is to use natural fibers that aren’t artificially shiny. It was shocking to me when I first went into bridal how much shiny white fabric I saw. It doesn’t look good, and it doesn’t sound good when you walk, either. We’re not all about that princess bride! One of our early retailers called us "organic couture."

What type of bride do you attract?
We cater to the girl who’s a little more realistic. She’s lived her life, and she doesn’t want to look like she pulled something brand spanking new out of the box. For instance, one of our brides is a cheese maker in Portland, Oregon!

Do you ever design custom gowns?
On occasion, but our customers really find what they want in the core collection.

What’s New York Bridal Week like for you?
It’s very low-key compared to the runway show we put on during New York’s Fashion Week. We usually have two models rotating eight gowns, and we put on quick little presentations with retailers and editors so they can feel the fabric and really look at the details.

How is your design process different for bridal compared to ready-to-wear?
We come up with one concept for ready-to-wear, and everything revolves around that concept. We don’t do that for bridal. We try to design eight different dresses that speak to eight different people. It’s not about being a collection—it’s about each piece standing on its own.

Were you that little girl who was always planning her wedding?
Never! I was much more interested in decorating my dollhouse. One of my dollhouses had 12 rooms, and I decorated each one like a room from Clue. I even tiled the floor.

What about your big day? No one throws a wedding like a Texan!
That is true! They’re always big, multiple day parties. I love how Texans will do a lot of outfit changes. They don’t do the low-key affair, and I’m all for that. My wedding was kind of big. We had 650 people, and our theme centered around trees. They’re a real symbol of strength. We had  two great oaks at the altar.

What about your gown?
I made my own wedding dress. I sent off the pattern to India since I had a tree branch embroidered on the side. I even had twigs in my hair. I maybe went a little far with the theme!

What song was playing during your first dance?
My husband’s last name is Jones, so we danced to ‘Me and Mrs. Jones.’ I love that song, but I think it’s actually about an adulterer.

What’s your favorite memory of that day?
We gave saplings out as our wedding favor, and every year we get a picture of some of these saplings that have grown into huge trees. Only three or four actually survived out of 650. I’m sure some didn’t even make it off the airplane!

What was your favorite registry gift?
I still love my wedding china—glazed, Japanese ceramic pieces from Takashimaya. It was over the top! My guests could only purchase them at Takashimaya New York, which was difficult for my Texan friends who weren’t local and were used to going to Neiman’s. It breaks my heart when any of the china chips today, since I can’t replace them.

Do you watch wedding reality shows?
I never watch TV! I don’t know who anyone is, and I don’t watch any shows. I don’t read a lot of magazines or go to blogs either, so I’m totally out of the loop!

How have your celebrity wedding gowns affected your business?
We designed all the bridesmaid gowns for Jenna Bush’s house party in 2008. The look was based on wild flowers in Texas. Both Barbara and Jenna have worn the clothes for a long time, so I’d met Laura Bush several times. She called in the dresses, and that’s what really launched our bridesmaid collection.

You also designed a bridal gown for Susan Sarandon’s daughter, Eva Amurri.
I hadn’t known Eva or Susan previously, but she had seen my gowns and wanted to come in and try some on. They were both very easy to work with. Originally, Eva had a different idea of what she was going to wear, but she put that dress on and knew it was it. We also dressed Susan for the wedding. Eva was dying to have her mom in something similar, so we used the same lace for Susan’s slate grey dress. Most brides wouldn’t have the confidence to do that.

Do you think one day you’ll design your daughter’s wedding dress?
She’s five, and already has opinions on what she wants to wear! I make all her clothes, but we have a small dress form that she’ll create little looks on in the studio. The last one was a tutu skirt with a one-shoulder lace top. Sometimes she’ll come home from school and ask, ‘What did you bring me today? Did you make me anything?’ She still lets me dress her, and I don’t want that to go away.

Any plans to expand Lela Rose Wedding in the future?
I’d love to design veils. We offer belts currently, and we sell a lot of those, whether they go on our gowns or someone else’s. Brides struggle with veils, but I always say, ‘You don’t have to wear it the whole day, but this is your one shot to wear a veil! Why not? Go for it!’

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