The Gown Designer

Photo: Danny Kim

Reem Acra, Designer and Founder of Reem Acra New York

What’s the first question you ask a bride when she comes to you for wedding-dress advice?
I ask her what she has dreamed of all her life. But the answer she gives is rarely specific; she’s usually lost and doesn’t know how to describe it. I tell myself that within two minutes, I have to figure out her personality and what she should be wearing.

Two minutes? You’re that quick?
I can tell from her facial expressions and how she’s dressed and from her attitude. I also have to have a chance to look at her and see her figure. Even when a woman is in simple clothing, I can tell if she’s short, or wide, or square, or if her waist is small.

Some women really can’t stand bridal gowns. How do you work with the anti-wedding-dress types?
One time, a friend called and said, “I have a friend whose daughter is getting married, and she’s very, very difficult.” I suggested that she send me a picture of the girl before I met her. In the picture she sent, the girl was raising her hands, dancing wild, almost half-naked. When I met her, I said, “Oh, my dear, you would like to be naked at your wedding, wouldn’t you?” And she jumped, and she said, “Yes!” And her mother said, “My God, how did you know that my daughter doesn’t like to put clothes on?” So I sat down, and I sketched a dress that was see-through! They loved it. You can figure out a way to deal with anyone.

I’ve noticed a lot of women wearing strapless gowns these days. Why is this style so popular?
It’s a way to show skin in a flattering way. In general, 80 percent of people look good in strapless dresses.

And how do you feel about sleeves?
I don’t mind a long-sleeved dress as long as it’s done well, but that’s not easy.

How can you keep it from looking matronly?
Make sure that the long sleeves are tight on your arms. If the sleeves are baggy, it’s old-looking.

Are there any bridal trends you wish would go away?
Right now, everybody seems to want a dress that fits around the hips and then flares at the bottom, and it doesn’t look good on many figures.

You don’t see many brides wearing veils these days. Do you think they’ll come back?
I’ve always loved veils. I’m sure Kate [Middleton] will be wearing a veil. I hope they come back, because sometimes a little bit of tradition is a nice thing.

Go Easy on the Color

“It’s nice to have a hint of color, but it shouldn’t be too saturated.”
Photo: Avatra Images/Alamy


The Gown Designer