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!


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.


*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.


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?


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.


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.



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:

*Follow Anne Barge on Facebook:

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.


Spring Bridal Events!

Brides, if you’re planning a wedding and you’re on the hunt for wedding professionals to help assist in making your dream day perfect, don’t miss our schedule of April Luxury Bridal Events.

Sunday, April 12th at the Marriott Chicago Northwest in Hoffman Estates


Sunday, April 19th at the Doubletree by Hilton Oakbrook

Welcome to the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago- Oak Brook Hotel

Sunday, April 26th at Georgio’s Banquets in Orland Park


Not only will you have the opportunity to book appointments with our exhibitors, but you’ll also have the chance to see the top designers in bridal and bridesmaids on our gorgeous runway! Names like Ines Di Santo, Lazaro, Liancarlo, Mira Zwillinger, Inbal Dror, Edgardo Bonilla, Yaki Ravid, Johanna Johnson, Hayley Paige, Alvina Valenta, Matthew Christopher, Tara Keely, Sophia Tolli, David Tutera, James Clifford, and bridesmaids by Alvina Valenta, Jim Hjelm Occasions and Noir by Lazaro.


{photo above courtesy Just Love Me Photography + Design}

To order your four complimentary tickets to any of the events mentioned above, visit our website at: and use the Promo Code, FB-Spring! We look forward to seeing you and to helping you assist in your wedding planning!

Jim Verraros for Bridal Expo Chicago + Milwaukee Luxury Events


The Oscars 2011 – Best Dressed

No, it wasn’t just you, the Oscars were little odd this year. It was as if there was a huge inside joke that everyone knew and as everyone waited for the punch line with great anticipation ……. it never came. However, this years fashions did not disappoint. 

 I loved seeing Tim Gunn on the red carpet. This is exactly where he belongs. He asks all the right questions  and he saves the acting talk for the interviewers with bigger chops.  I have been tuning in since I was a small girl merely to see what the stars will be wearing so,  the red carpet is my favorite part of the show!

Penny’s Picks for  best dressed:

Mila Kunis – The biggest shocker of the night for me was how much I loved this Elie Saab couture gown. The only reason so many design elements (lace, ruffles, draped chiffon, blouson top) work on this gown is because it was constructed impeccably, like a work of art. Every fold, every drape, every small lace ruffle is sewn to perfection.  Mila made every one’s top ten list in this designer gown, and the top of my top ten list. Surprised? Me, too!

Natalie Portman – Although I feel she lost it in the accessory department (hello, beaded tassels?), the purple Rodarte gown looked magnificent and comfortable enough for the mom-to-be to carry home a  small statuette and a  bun in the oven. 

Anne Hathaway – Most critics were all over her red Valentino gown, accusing the star of wearing her window treatments, etc. I disagree for two reasons – the fit was perfect and it was pure Valentino couture.  In addition, each and every gown that she wore during her multiple costume changes was A+ with the exception of the midnight blue Versace. I thought it fell flat.

Gyyneth Paltrow – Again, I disagree with most critics. Her gown was sleek, cool and totally retro. She was not nominated and was there to look good. She did!

Sharon Stone – Carried off  the Black Swan theme to perfection in this one-shouldered Christian Dior gown, regardless off how the critics slammed her smoky eyes. I thought she looked magnificent for a woman of any age.

Jennifer Hudson -Was a vision in Versace. The tangerine color looked marvelous with her skintone and the fit was unbelievable. The side drape and fitted bodice showed off her stunning slim physique.  In all fairness, she was stunning when she won her own Oscar and was much heavier. *Memo to her stylist – “make sure the cleavage is the same color as the chest.”

Mandy Moore – Her Monique Lhullier gown was breathtaking. The fit and the detail  of this champagne/nude gown reminds us that this little girl is all grown up and also that Monique Lhullier can do no wrong. Her bridal gowns are equally as impressive.

Hailee Stanfield – Also wow’d the crowd in her champagne/ nude creation by Marchesa. She opted for a fuller, ballerina-length skirt which is extremely flattering and appropriate for a young woman at the age of 14.

Sandra Bullock – America’s sweetheart proves once again that she can  look red hot on the red carpet with this  amazing red Vera Wang gown. But, we already knew that. Her makeup and accessories were  toned down leading me to believe that she and her stylist agreed -when you look this good in this gown, you don’t need any extra help.

 Hilary Swank – This Gucci Premiere couture gown is pure Hollywood glamour. Hand sewn crystals,  ostrich feathers – who knew this much detail could be so sexy?  Grey is not an easy color to wear but,  Ms. Swank pulls it off effortlessly.

Celine Dion – She had twins? In this simple, fitted Armani Prive gown it is hard to imagine she has given birth to one child, much less three.  The slim fitting gown had an absolutely perfect fit for her, the horizontal darts accentuated her toned physique and the only detail on the gown (other than the silk shantung fabric) was a small band that seemed to help the gown curve perfectly over her bust-line.  Was it just me or did this necklace remind anyone else of the gargantuan blue diamond stunner she wore when she sang the theme from Titanic?

Tune in tomorrow for my picks for the Worst Dressed at the 2011 Oscars. In the mean time, you can click  on this link  to view Bridal Expo’s very own red carpet couture runway show!

 – Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago