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Dressed to Thrill

Emily Allen

Today’s top wedding-dress designers are taking fabric, drapery, and overall approach in brand-new directions that suit today’s brides. Here, three of our favorite designers disclose their secrets to a fresh, personalized look. 

What inspired your 2016 collection, Royaye Sefd (“Bright Dreams” in Persian)?

Leila Hafzi: I find inspiration from my clients, cultures, dreams, and the past. In the present 2016/17 bridal collection, I take inspiration from the patterns seen on Persian carpets and mix them with inspiration from nature. I have hand-drawn every lace we have made and feel very content with the fusion and end result of the collection.

You have said that this particular collection traveled with you only hours before the disastrous earthquake in Nepal. How did that experience influence both your work and that particular collection?

LH: Nepal is my second country. I love it and its people so much. When there was the disastrous earthquake I had left Nepal only 12 hours before and I was literally shocked when the plane landed and I heard the news of the terrible tragedy. At first I thought to return to help my employees and my people, but I thought it was wiser to organize humanitarian aid from Norway and from Europe, to be more effective. The collection was complete and we were able, with a huge effort and work, to maintain the production.

Your line is known for practicing eco-conscious and ethical production. Can you share more about the importance of sustainability to you and your line within the fashion world? What has been the biggest challenge in keeping true to these values?

LH: The ethical production and my pledge in eco-conscious practicing are my main focus. For this reason, I will keep the production of the collections in a country that is still in absolute need of help for as long as I can.

Congratulations on your 2016 “New York” collection. What is it about New York that inspired you?

Inbol Dror: I think New York is a wonderful city, so vibrant and cosmopolitan. The architecture and the beauty of nature in Central Park, the diverse people, the glamour, and the sheer rhythm of the city are all inspirational.

Tell us more about the specific materials you used in this collection.

ID: I source my materials personally and I design much of the lace used myself. I absolutely adore the champagne hues and the charcoal blush in this collection and the Chantilly lace is just so delicate and feminine.

We love how each of your collections is centered around a different city: 2016 was New York, and 2015 was Venice. How do you choose the city each year? Do you already know the theme for next year’s collection?

ID: I don’t tend to choose a specific city, it chooses me! As I travel a lot, I do find that my inspiration comes often whilst I am on the road. I can’t tell you about this year’s collection yet. You’ll have to wait till October!

What inspired your 2017 collection, Whisper of Blossom?

Mira Zwillinger: It’s about the rebirth of nature. We tried to capture the special moment when the first buds of spring appear on cold and bare branches, that moment when nature starts to whisper its melody of beauty and renewal. What drew us toward this collection was the idea of creating the branches motif and combining it with gentle handmade flowers.

Delicate fabrics, embroidery, and beading seem to be major components in not only this collection, but in all of your designs. How do you decide on what materials to use and where do you get them from?

MZ: Fabrics are our love. We start with fabrics and draw our inspiration from them. Sourcing them is one of the stages we love the most in the process of the design. It’s like opening a magic box without knowing to where it’s going to lead you. The fabrics we chose are very expensive and of very high quality, mainly sourced from Europe. We pick only what makes our heart miss a beat; we decide if we love it in the first second we see it. Then we combine different materials, hand-dye them, add a lot of handwork and beading, allowing us to create something new and special. The details are what make the dress unique, and that is one of the Mira Zwillinger trademarks.

You started your line 25 years ago, and in 2011 your daughter Lihi joined as lead designer and brand manager. What has it been like working with your daughter and finding a balance between timeless elegance and something still modern, new and fresh?

MZ: Throughout the first years of my business I had never thought about the possibility of my daughter joining the business, as I didn’t know whether she would choose the designing path. Today, I must say that one of the best things that has happened to the business is her joining. Lihi came from a background of streetwear design, so her approach to bridal was different, new and fresh. Together we are a great team. We both love the same things, but on the other hand we have a different perspective, which leads to a beautiful result.

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Eric Almas, Inbol Dror, and Mira Zwillinger