What made you decide to open up a shop in New York?
I absolutely love New York. I split my time between London and Paris—but there is something magical about this city. I don’t think there is a difference between my bride in Paris versus my brides in Moscow, Beirut, London, and New York; after all, the concept of marriage is one of the most unifying concepts across the world, but we had a lot of interest from brides in the U.S., so New York seemed like the next step for us.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your bride? Is there a type of woman whom you feel you design for?
She has an interest in style and in fashion, she is confident, and she is completely herself on her wedding day—only, in her best version.
How do you find inspiration for your designs? Is it from the brides themselves?
I can find inspiration anywhere—from films to exhibitions, and sometimes from women. Today I was at the Central Park Zoo with my son and I saw this lovely couple, and I just designed a dress for the woman in the couple in my mind. Then I thought, “Ok, I can add this dress into the next collection.”
Is it helpful for brides to bring in photo inspiration when they come shopping for a gown? Or is it sometimes best to go off feeling and fit?
My job is to take each bride and make them the best version of themselves on their wedding day, so that they look like themselves and not like that Instagram photo or that Pinterest picture. I think that today there is way too much to look at! There are so many photos online, in magazines, on Pinterest and Instagram, and so brides come in more concerned with looking like five other women than they do with looking like themselves. It’s fantastic, of course, to be inspired, but it can sometimes lead to brides wanting to be so many other women rather than realizing what is so amazing about the way they look in the moment.
I am so inspired by that idea of impermanence, of dressing a woman for a single moment—be it a wedding, a red carpet ... Sometimes I wish we could go back in time to the ’20s or ’30s, when each couple had one unique, identifying photo of themselves on their wedding day and who they were in that special moment so as not to take away from the honesty and sincerity of the day.
Your gowns are very effortless and soft, but that can lead to some of them being very sexy with low-cut backs and sheer elements. Do you design with men in mind as well?
I do think about what men would think of my dresses when I’m designing them. I think I know what men want … and I know that I know what women want. The best is when I receive notes from the grooms, thanking me for how beautiful their wives looked. There is nothing better. I remember my first note—it was from a man named Cyril thanking me for the gown I made for his bride, Caroline.
Tell us about your process. You recently started designing couture and so we know each gown is created with the same age-old techniques in your atelier in Paris, but what else is key for you in creating a gown from a sketch?
All my fabrics have to have a story, so they will last through the test of time. I always try to keep in mind the traditions of how dresses are and should be made—even the color is very important to me, finding the right shade of white is not easy. You know what they say: It’s very easy for an artist to paint an apple—it’s finding the right shade of red to make it look perfect that is the challenge.
So many Fall 2015 trends we noticed were things you have had as staples in your collection for years—separates, color, low backs. What trends are you seeing this season?
It’s my hope that brides try to find originality outside of trends, since it’s important that whatever a bride wear on her wedding day be true to whom she is. But we also need to ask ourselves who this bride will be in 50 years, and dress those more authentic sides of her. To be original now requires more coverage—not trying to be sexy in a strapless bustier, but leaving more to the imagination. I think winter is very original and special these days—so many brides are getting married on the beach. I think getting married in the snow in an evening coat is divine. I also do like the idea of using color in a soft, unexpected way, like Poppy Delevingne did in her gown by Peter Dundas for Pucci. But I will always love white. If you think about it, white is the color that makes women the most beautiful—be it throwing on a white T-shirt with jeans or wearing a pearl necklace or earrings like Coco Chanel.
How do you feel about accessories? You used very ’70s-inspired hats in your last runway show.
Sometimes I don’t like to overdo it on accessories or makeup. I used to be a stylist for TV and my rule was that I picked one key accessory or statement and focused on it—if it’s a hat, make your look clean and simple and all about the hat. If it’s red lipstick, then keep all the attention there. Otherwise all your style statements cancel each other out and you can look overdone. If the dress is perfect on you—the cut, the fit, the style, the way the neckline highlights your bone structure—then you will not need makeup or accessories to feel beautiful.