The Gown Designers

Photo: Katie Murray

Jenna Lyons, President and Executive Creative Director at J.Crew, and Tom Mora, Head of Wedding Design at J.Crew

At all the weddings I’ve been to this year, the bride was wearing a strapless dress. What’s the deal?
T.M.: It’s all about strapless.
J.L.: Always.
T.M.: They love it.

It can look really great or really bad. How will you know?
J.L.: It has everything to do with body type. If you have very strong shoulders or are better endowed on top, it might look less flattering than it would on a smaller frame. I do love that with the right fit and the right tailoring, so many body types can look good in it.
T.M.: Tailoring is so important. It has to be small, even a little uncomfortable. Most brides lose weight before their wedding, so you need a fitting about a week to ten days before to have it adjusted without going too tight. If it’s taken in too much, your back can look like a Shar-Pei.
J.L.: There has to be a proper interior so the bustier is holding up the dress. When the dress itself is holding up the dress, it’s a dangerous thing.
T.M.: Yeah, you don’t want to be the bride who’s tugging at her gown the whole time.
J.L.: It’s not a good look.
T.M.: You should be dancing with your arms over your head!

What kind of dresses have waned in popularity?
J.L.: People aren’t looking for the heavily encrusted dresses anymore.

Do you have any tips for accessorizing?
J.L.: If you’re wearing dangly earrings, don’t do a necklace. If you have a big necklace, then no bracelet. The idea is to create a little bit of energy and pop, which you can usually do with one piece of jewelry. Also, never forget to bring your shoes when you go for a fitting. They’re very important.

Jenna, you designed your own wedding dress. Wasn’t there anything at a boutique worth buying?
J.L.: I wanted a triangle top with tiny straps and a full skirt, and there was nothing out there like that. But I had contact with incredible embroiderers and an amazing beading house, so the dress had beautiful beading. We used multiple layers of tissue linen, which is very light, and worked in an embroidery pattern with large flowers and birds in different shades of ivory—you had to get close to see the detail.
T.M.: It was really beautiful.
J.L.: Tom was there. This is really embarrassing, but I never picked it up from the dry cleaner. It’s at Madame Paulette to this day.

Avoid Overkill
“Don’t do a statement necklace with a red lip—people won’t know where to look.” —T.M.
Photo: Henry Hargreaves/New York Magazine


The Gown Designers