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The Gown Designer

“I started off as a contemporary ready-to-wear designer. I didn’t even know I was making wedding dresses until people told me they got married in them.”


Yoo Lee, Owner of Saja Wedding

How does a bride know when to pull the trigger on a dress?
I’m always surprised that so many people buy the dress on their first appointment. Even if you know it’s the right dress, I say sleep on it and then come back with reinforcements like your mom and friends. If you still like it, then, yes, it’s the dress for you.

Is there an unflattering dress shape you often steer people away from?
Unless you are very petite or slim, dresses that hit at the true waist are not flattering. We’ve become so used to wearing low-cut pants that most of us don’t even know we have a muffin top. It’s not like the fifties, when women wore fitted things around the waist and molded their bodies for it.

Your designs are fairly simple; do people often add their own flair?
I always say that our dresses are like canvases and you can paint them however you want. We offer different kinds of sashes and handmade flowers as well as beaded belts that can make the dress look more formal. Tying the sash in the back looks more traditional, but if you flip the tie to the front and do a little obi-style knot, you get a more modern vibe.

How do you feel about color on a wedding dress?
We do a beautiful, subtle blush color that’s been very popular. But I’ve never had anyone regret wearing white on her wedding day; I have seen people who regret wearing color.

Have a lot of people been requesting lace sleeves or long trains, à la Kate Middleton’s dress?
We don’t get many formal brides having a big church wedding. The reason people come to us is because we don’t do trains!

Do you ever have to deal with last-minute dress-fitting snafus?
I would say that up to 20 percent of our brides get pregnant right before their weddings. In that case, we can just switch their dress with one that’s the right size.Do you find that New York brides exhibit certain characteristics that brides from other places don’t? Women in New York have fewer body issues. I’ve seen people with size-zero bodies who think they’re fat, and there’s nothing I can do to make them feel better. But I find that New York brides are comfortable in their skin, which makes them much easier to work with. I think it’s because you have to be somewhat tough—and confident­—to live here.

212-226-7570; sajawedding.com

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