An Exclusive Interview with Designer Anne Barge

As you may or may not know, bridal fashion is an integral part of our luxury bridal events, which is why we are SO thrilled to have designer Anne Barge as part of our Luxury Bridal Event tour for 2016!

As we lead into New York Bridal Fashion Week (less than a month away), we asked Anne herself about the bridal industry, where she sees it going next and what we can all expect from her this coming Fall!

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Jim Verraros: Since childhood, you’ve become fascinated with weddings and cite your Mother as a source for your inspiration. Can you take us back to a memory of a wedding that’s always stayed within you?

Anne Barge: My mother was an organ pianist and started taking me with her to ceremonies when I was barely three years old. I have one vivid memory of a wedding where the entire church was filled with gardenias. Watching the bride come down the aisle to the wedding march, smelling the sweet floral air, the whole experience was like a fairytale. It was then that I began to focus on my lifelong dream.

JV: Are there other bridal designers or colleagues that you appreciate or have an affinity for?

Anne: When I graduated from college, I worked as Jim Hjelm’s assistant at Priscilla of Boston. He is one of my oldest and dearest friends. As a retailer, I was one of Amsale’s first customers and we have stayed close family friends ever since. Beyond being great people, I think the two are both fabulous designers who have made enormous contributions to our industry.

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*Pictured above Anne and James Clifford Hjelm

JV: The Bridal World is constantly evolving and changing; particularly now with the trend of low backs and sexier silhouettes and necklines. Where do you see bridal heading in the next year or two?

Anne: The trend in bridal has definitely gone as low and as bare as it can in recent years. I predict the pendulum will swing back and designers will start to explore more conservative styles. My aesthetic will always be one of refinement, we interpret trends in a way that upholds our timeless and classic style.

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Anne Barge “Black Label,” Spring 2016 Collection

JV: One of my favorite red carpet gowns you’ve done was for Amber Riley on Fox’s hit show, “Glee.” Can we expect to see more evening and red carpet from you?

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Anne: We loved that gown on her! Joan Rivers claimed it was one of the best dressed of the SAG awards that year. Bridal will always be our main focus, but many of our gowns can be designed in color for evening wear.

JV: There are so many options and choices for Brides today, it can be overwhelming! What is your best advice for a bride who’s shopping for the perfect dress?

Anne: Above all, go to a reputable salon. There are so many fantastic professionals with decades of experience who can help you select exactly what you’re looking for. I should know, I used to be one of them! Keep your fan club small until you have made your final selection. Crowds can be very distracting.

JV: Let’s say there’s an aspiring bridal designer out there, sketching away and hopes to one day become a household name like you. What words of advice would you give to an aspiring bridal designer?

Anne: Work experience is invaluable. Pick a designer you admire and do everything you can to intern, shadow, or work on their staff. There is so much more to our business than meets the eye.

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Anne Barge Collection, Spring 2016

JV: New York Bridal Fashion Week is just a few months away. What can we expect from you for your newest collection?

Anne: Our new collection is still in the muslin (cotton fabric) stages, so the finished products will evolve several times before October market. I’m very excited about the next collection, it will embody everything that defines the Anne Barge Bride. She’s timeless with a modern twist. We can’t wait to show you!

JV: How long has it been since you’ve been to Chicago and what’s your favorite thing about our city? We can’t wait to have you!

Anne: It has been a couple of years since I was last in Chicago, but I love your city. My favorite hotel is The Burnham with its Mozart music print drapes, and I love the street shopping on East Oak. Of course, a visit to Belle Vie Bridal is always a must! It’s a beautiful salon.

 

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Pictured above: Anne Barge and Jim Verraros

 

*Anne Barge Collections available exclusively at Belle Vie Bridal Couture, Chicago.

*To see Anne Barge’s collections, visit: http://www.annebarge.com

*Follow Anne Barge on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnneBargeBride?fref=ts

Anne Barge on Instagram: @annebargebride

 

 

*Anne Barge Trunk Show: Sept. 18th-19th, 2015. To schedule your consultation for your Anne Barge gown, call 312.751.2222.

 

Finding A Dress For Mom… Definitely Harder Than You Think!

 I have learned a lot in my life. But, there is one question that I have yet to find the answer:  Why is it so hard for women over 50  to find just the right dress for a special event – ?  
First of all,  most  are not 100% comfortable with their bodies anymore and hide behind their clothing. They wear baggy sweaters, mom jeans and/or frumpy clothing most of the time. When it does come time to find a dress for the wedding of their child, they panic and all wind up wearing a long dress with a jacket. Here is a tip: THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME!. Satin jacket with crepe dress or crepe jacket with satin dress – it is nearly a uniform of the wedding mother who just can’t find anything else.

Secondly, there is a double standard: we are told we can’t wear short dresses anymore no matter how great the legs but, designers consistently show strapless gowns for women who shouldn’t have worn them when they were 20 , much less when they reach senior ‘citizenship’. Hardly fair, is it?

 Here are a few things to consider before you buy anything to wear to  your adult child’s wedding:

#1) Forget everything you hear, read or see on TV. If you have great, shapely legs and want to wear a shorter dress, wear it! 3″ above the knee is about the limit for a host of reasons but, short skirts are not limited to the X or Y or Z generation.

#2) Accessorize. Find a dress you love in your size and forget about being perfect or looking like a supermodel. Make the most of a simple, elegant dress by accessorizing to the max! Great necklace and earrings, beaded scarf, or even a hat will draw the eyes to your face and away from the mid-section where you may be a little thicker than you used to be. A great pair of heels will also do a lot for your self -image.

#3) Wrap it up. Consider a wrap dress if your tummy isn’t as flat as it used to be. A wrap (around) dress can hide 10-15 lbs easily. If the fabric is right and you accessorize properly, you will look stunning. Diane Von Furstenberg gave us the quintessential wrap dress in the 1970’s and it has evolved into a garment that can literally be worn for any occasion depending upon the fabric.

#4) Who are you? Don’t forget your personal style. If you have always liked a certain type of dress, don’t shy away from it because you are older. Underneath the laugh lines, next  to the spanx, lies the same woman who ran cross-country, captained the cheerleading squad, pledged a sorority and later attended every PTA meeting. You are what you are and what you are needs needs no excuses.

#5) Undergarments are everything. You don’t need to wear a girdle or a corset, you don’t need to wear extra tight super control top pantyhose.  But, wearing the right panties and bra will make any gown look better.

I know how you feel. Every day someone tells you that you don’t look your age, in fact you don’t really feel your age.  You walk confidently down the street in shorts in the summer, you play tennis, ride horses, swim, or run. You feel like you get better each and every day until you are confronted with that hideous mirror in the dressing room and the fluorescent lights! Let me tell you – those lights are lying. You are better! You don’t need a face lift  butt lift or liposuction….. all you need is the right dress, just ask Helen Mirren or Jane Fonda!

-Penny Frulla For Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Jane Fonda - The Red Carpet at the Cannes Film Fest

Bringing Sexy Back – What designers have in store for 2012

The music begins and the bride starts to walk down the aisle, bouquet in hand, escort on arm. Most of what the wedding guests see is from the waist up and what they remember is the look on the bride’s face as she begins her journey to the end of the aisle where her future husband waits.

However, once she reaches the end of the aisle there is plenty of time for the guests to focus on the gown. So, it is no surprise that designers have begun to put so much emphasis on the back of the gown.

Last week, Twilight fans were delighted with the wedding of Bella and Edward. Bella’s Carolina Herrera gown featured a simple silk princess cut, A-line  gown with a dramatic deep-V back edged in scalloped lace. For devout Twilight fans (Twihards) an exact replica of the gown is already  available by Alfred Angelo under the “Twilight Bridal” label.

Pnina Tornai, the famed Israeli designer whose creations are featured on “Say Yes to The Dress” showed several stunning gowns with intricate details in the back.

Designers from ‘Haute Couture’ to ‘entirely affordable’ are embracing this style.

 

 

If you are not comfortable with the extremely low back and all that skin being exposed, you can find a gown with buttons, lacing or another equally interesting detail. You can also opt for a modest keyhole back.

The best news of all is that brides have more choices than ever. Just make sure you have the correct undergarments so the gown is what people are talking about – not pantylines!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Wedding Roundup

Didn’t it seem like last year there were hardly any celebrity weddings? With the exception of the spectacular union of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinky which had all the right elements including two Vera Wang gowns, secret service and Hollywood guest list.

This year getting married seems to be the new black in Hollywood, even Hugh Hefner is jumping on the bandwagon (again) after bachelor-ing it up on reality TV for several seasons. Probably most notable and most recent (and most interesting)  is the engagement of Kim Kardashian to her basketball playing fiance, Kris Humphries.  

I love celebrity weddings for a million reasons and I am often disappointed by them. I love seeing what they come up with given their seemingly limitless budgets and star-studded guestlists. I loved Celine Dion’s over-the-top wedding, except her hideous head gear. Seriously, what was that? I loved Mariah Carey’s fairy princess look at her first wedding even though in retrospect  it seems gaudy. And trust me, I was sore when I picked up a people magazine with a photo of Julia Roberts with Lyle Lovett in basically a nightgown with bare feet. I still don’t get it but, I eventually forgave her. :)

So as I await details of the  second trip down the aisle for Kim Kardashian, the Reality A-lister, I would expect to see a lot of pomp …. under the circumstances.  And, of course the speculation begins as to what (who) she will wear.

What will Kim wear? With a 20 carat, 2 million dollar engagement ring, the stakes are high. Vera Wang is very possible since her sister wore a Vera Wang for her wedding not so long ago and Vera Wang has the kind of name recognition that the Kardashian Klan adores. Of course there are dozens of suitable high end designers;  Amsale, Ines Di Santo, Rivini, Monique Lhullier… the list goes on. However, looking at pictures of Kim K and her flair for wearing body-hugging styles, my guess is Pnina Tornai or Stephen Yearick.  Furthermore, since Kleinfelds of  “Say Yes to The Dress” fame is the exclusive distributor for the Pnina Tornai collection, I think a reality  mega-merger is in store. Perhaps a  one hour special “Kim Takes Klenifeld’s”! I am quite often wrong when I speculate so don’t hold me to that. One thing is for sure, don’t look for her to be following the understated look worn recently by Catherine Middleton. In Hollywood less is never more and not enough is worse than nothing at all. Fortunately,  the Kardashian’s never disappoint when it comes to glitz and glamour. 

Here are my picks for the Kardashian bridal party:

Bridal Gown  – Tight fitting corset bodice with a tremendous, detailed skirt! I personally love this one-shoulder gown with the draped bodice. It is unique and fabulously couture!

Bridal Party – Something slim and flowing, something feminine and chic. For instance the pleated metallic halter  gown by Carmen Marc Valvo or a pastel gown executed flawlessly by the  Enzoani Love Collection. For something more vibrant, there is always a Redux Charles Chang-Lima silk gown in bright red.  These would look great on any of them or the Mother of the Bride.

Stay tuned as details of the big day unfold! Until then, you can see all of the latest designer gowns at each and every Bridal Expo. Or take a minute now to watch our couture runway show which (unlike some celebrity weddings) never disappoints. http://www.bridalshowexpo.com/fos_video_bride.html?PHPSESSID=c7dbb4fca519180d63d86a3f15f36209

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Lazaro Perez-Designer for Lazaro and Tara Keely

Lazaro's Personal Appearance at Macy's Bridal Salon

Lazaro's Personal Appearance at Macy's Bridal Salon

Our good friend Christopher Dillon, Manager of Macy’s Bridal Salon State Street, invited two of our members of our Fashion Department to spend some time at the bridal salon to view the Fall 2010 Lazaro and Tara Keely Bridal Collections during this past weekend’s trunk show.  We had an opportunity to meet Lazaro and discuss his visions for his collections and talk all things bridal.  What struck us the most about this renowned designer is his relaxed and grounded persona.  Soft spoken, confident, and truly enthusiastic about every bride he worked with earlier in the day.

Lazaro has been designing since the late 1990’s and has been known for awarding winning designs incorporating his talent in the use of hand beading and embroidery.  His designs are ultra-glamorous and elegant.  His Fall 2010 collection is every bride’s dream come true with exquisite designs incorporating lace, organza, silk and antique beading.  The structure and fit are superb. And he has not allowed his ego to out shine his collection which unfortunately is not necessarily the case with other designers we’ve encountered.  With Lazaro, you know in an instant that his love for his work and his dedication to creating beautiful gowns for brides is a passion that is as much alive in his eyes today as it was when he first started nearly 15 years ago.  Bravo!  For more information; visit www.lazaro.com or to find the nearest retailer who carries the Lazaro and Tara Keely brands.  A division of JLM Couture.  To book an appointment at Macy’s Bridal Salon, call (312) 781-3545. Ask for Theresa or Christopher.