Rosie Assouline never intended to make a bridal gown.
But as the fashion designer tells it, after she launched her ready-to-wear label in 2013, clients snapped up her white pieces for wedding dresses. Soon fans started asking about the bridal collection; By Ms. Assouline’s estimate, her company has received hundreds of inquiries over the years.
In the year In 2020, she knew those questions could no longer be ignored. Then came the plague just as her sister was about to get married. “They had to cancel their wedding and get married alone on the beach,” Ms. Assouline (pronounced ah-so-lin) said. “We made her dress: a cream and beige burgundy and turquoise dress from our Fall/Winter 2018 collection that was tied at the waist and covered with a beautiful hood. The process, she added, “showed our team that we can delegate specifically to brides.
Although the materials she chose were not typical for formal clothes, they were more diverse. “For this he gravitated towards more sophisticated and expensive fabrics such as gauzy, organza, moray, velvet and silk,” Ms Assolin said.
They’re less unusual, including bucket hats and cargo pants, which she says she “doesn’t see in a bride.” There’s also a puffy comforter-inspired dress as well as three-dimensional dresses with embellishments including satin daisies and pearls.
“Historically, brides only wore one dress. Now they may want a dress for every moment that might happen on the weekend, as we saw with this collection,” Ms. Assouline said. “Weddings have many moments.”
Prices start at $795 for a bucket hat, but most of the collection retails between $1,795 and $12,995, said brand spokeswoman Lauren Cooper.
One Friday in May, Ms. Assouline rushed into the bridal salon at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan, where her new collection was displayed on two racks. Her first trunk show since the outbreak is about to start and she feels “out of practice”.
“I haven’t been in front of a client or a buyer in two years,” she said. “It’s a muscle I haven’t used in a long time.”
Ms. Assoulin wore a white button-down shirt and cream pants with her presentation as she explained her design process and the inspiration behind it.
“I’m inspired by beautiful, expressive and creative elements: art, sculpture and architecture, as well as the hundreds of vases and bowls she collected over her lifetime. “Many vases already look like dresses.”
“Being able to take those elements and find ways to put that puzzle into a garment and make it functional, flattering, comfortable and relaxed – that’s what design is,” she adds.
Ms. Assoulin was midway through, her hand touching one of her gowns, when Elizabeth Limberakis, 33, walked into the living room with her mother.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re here,” Ms. Limberakis, director of integrated marketing for the Elokie fashion brand, told Ms. Assouline. “I really can’t believe I’m dating you.”
After introducing herself, Ms. Limberrakis asked Ms. Assouline for some style advice for her upcoming wedding in Philadelphia, where Ms. Limberrakis lives next May. Bouquet then entered the dressing room, wearing a tulip-shaped tea-length dress with a pointed bodice and ruffled shoulder straps, encased in har gazar, priced at $3,995. It suits her to perfection.
“It’s very attractive,” Ms Limberakis said. “I’ve tried on a few dresses before, and nothing looks this good.” She finally ordered the gown.
A self-described “big bottom and little top,” Ms. Limberkis said she gravitates toward Ms. Assouline’s clothes. (The bridal line is semi-custom and made-to-order, while the ready-to-wear line is generally available in sizes 0 to 16, according to Ms. Cooper, spokeswoman for Rosie Assouline.)
“I feel a sense of sisterhood and camaraderie when I see myself in her designs,” Ms. Limberakis added.
It’s possible that customers could develop such personal connections with Ms. Assouline’s line because her early clothes were inherently personal. From Gravesend, Brooklyn, at the age of 12, Ms. Assoline began cutting up her mother’s old clothes and reassembling the scraps into wearable pieces using her maternal grandmother’s sewing machine.
She later enrolled at the Institute of Fashion Technology, but left after four months. “I wasn’t a good student and I didn’t thrive in that school environment,” Ms. Assouline said. That didn’t stop her from landing a design internship at luxury brand Oscar de la Renta, where she worked for a year before moving on to gigs at other labels, including Adam Lips and Lanvin.
In the year In 2004, Ms. Assouline married Max Assouline, the teenage son of accessories designer Roxanne Assouline. Mr Assoulin has been CEO of his wife’s namesake fashion company since its inception. The couple, who have four children, live between their homes in Manhattan and New Jersey; Rosie Assoulin’s offices are in Manhattan.
Out of the norm
“Today’s bride has a clear idea of what she wants,” Ms. Assouline said as the pace began to pick up at the trunk show. “They want something unique and different. we are.
Osa Omokaro, a 38-year-old senior user experience expert at Google, wanted to see something out of the ordinary when she and her friend showed up at Bergdorf Goodman. She was struggling to find a dress to suit her style, which she describes as “non-traditional, a bit tomboyish but upscale and elegant” for her November wedding in Marrakesh, Morocco.
“Everything is very traditional, which to me means a mermaid with lots of food,” says Dr. Omokaro, who lives in Lower Manhattan and has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “I’m so glad Rosie’s here so she can tell me what to wear and how to adjust the dress.”
And so Ms. Asuline did, piling into the dressing room with Dr. Omokaro and her friend and advising Dr. Omokaro as she tried on three gowns.
Dr Omokaro described Ms Assouline’s designs as “sophisticated and classic” and “structural and high fashion”. But no as well as High fashion. “You can mix and match her pieces and then dress them up into something else,” she adds.
Soon after, Ms. Assouline returned to the dressing room with another bride: Diana Ming, 30, a vice president of strategy at a Wall Street bank.
It was Ms. Ming’s first time shopping for a dress before their wedding, scheduled for next June in Brooklyn. A self-described “huge fan of Rosie,” the dress she’s trying on, Hodges Podges — a $5,995 A-line style with a sweetheart neckline, spaghetti straps and silk flower embellishments — checks all her boxes.
“My wedding is a garden theme, so I wanted something with flowers,” said Ms. Ming, who lives in Brooklyn. “I love that it’s flowy, floral and feminine yet still creative and fun.”
In came Ms. Asuline, who had no experience dealing with customers until now.
“This part here is more plain, that’s what we do for samples,” she said as she cut some fabric for the back of the dress. For you, we can add an opaque material, or double up on a transparent material to maintain that ethereal look.
By noon, the two racks filled with Ms. Assouline’s bridal gowns were nearly empty. Most of the clothes were in the four dressing rooms in the living room and they were all taken. But not by Dr. Omokaro, by which time she left feeling more optimistic about her dress search.
“Rosie’s pieces are classic, elegant, chic and fashion forward,” she said. “I feel like this designer has found me.”