The Gown Designer

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Angel Sanchez

So, your mom made wedding dresses?
Yes, my mother is the best dressmaker in my hometown in Venezuela.

Is she the reason you became a bridal designer?
Ever since I was a little boy, I watched her making wedding gowns, but I didn’t think it was my thing. Then almost from the beginning as a fashion designer, I got requests for them and it came naturally to me. At first it was a challenge to make such a traditional dress more inventive. Every bride in Venezuela wants to look totally different.

How do you feel about a bride having two dresses? One for the ceremony, one for the party.
On one side, it respects the tradition, but then later you can enjoy the party and feel a bit more relaxed. Both dresses need to be white, however. Maybe you can do a long version for the ceremony and a short version for the party, but I don’t like changing colors. For me, bridal has to be white, or shades of white. I like pale peach or gray, where you can’t really tell the difference from white. A wedding dress has to look special— I still believe in that kind of tradition.

How do you handle the woman who doesn’t want to wear white? Maybe it’s her second marriage.
The other day I had perhaps the oldest bride I’ve had— almost 60 years old, and it was her first wedding. She was like a teenager; she was so happy. She was afraid to wear white because people would think she’s too old for it. But it’s not about age. It’s about a feeling. In the end, she went for off-white. The only thing I recommend for a second wedding is no veil and no bridesmaids.

What’s the most outrageous thing a bride has requested of you?
One bride asked me to tell her mom she was four months pregnant because she didn’t want to face her. She told me because she thought I needed to know to make the dress bigger. For me it was a little too much, but it ended up being a very joyful moment.

What’s the average price of a long gown?
Ready-to-wear is $6,000; couture is around $20,000.

Twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money.
Well, it’s a lot of work. There are a lot of people involved. I told one of my brides how many countries were in her dress—the lace was from France; the lining from Korea; the embroidery from India; the underlay from Italy; the designer Venezuelan; the seamstress Puerto Rican, and the pattern-maker Polish.

What’s one thing you always tell brides about their big day?
Don’t drink the night before.

Shop On Your Own
“Go look at dresses by yourself first. It’s the only way to figure out what you really want. Then you can bring your mom or friends.”

212-921-9827; Angel Sanchez;
Mirror photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

The Gown Designer