Ask the Experts: The Gown Vendor

Photo: Brad Paris

Gabriella Risatti

Your store recently opened in the meatpacking district. What compelled you?
I had this dream a while ago, but got a job at Ralph Lauren and then at Calvin Klein. Seven years later, I decided it was finally time. The bridal industry has lost its personal touch. I’m turned off by the pressure tactics some salons use. It’s in poor taste to show a woman a dress that is out of her price range, and to rush her.

How is it different at your store?
Here, you have two hours to try things on—that’s the longest I know of—and only three brides, max, are fitting at one time. I also serve wine, which helps a lot.

You only have 50 dresses.
The designers I carry are really different from one another. Carmela Sutera makes incredibly romantic gowns with lace; Matthew Christopher doesn’t do ruffles; Amy Kuschel stays relatively affordable by avoiding beading and doing simpler silhouettes.

What’s your favorite gown in the $1,500 to $3,000 range?
Dietrich, by Amy Kuschel—it’s a silk charmeuse gown with beautiful crystal detail and spaghetti straps down the back.

Which silhouette works for a fuller figure?
A-line is perfect for a curvy woman. For a large chest, a sweetheart neckline—with the right undergarment you can make strapless work.

If you’re petite?
Wear a sheath or a modified A-line. Small-chested brides can have cups sewn into the gown or get a dress with ruching across the bust, for a fuller appearance. If you’re tall and thin, a ball gown adds femininity and shape.

What’s most popular now?
Short dresses. I have a handful of them from Angel Sanchez. Another is the fit-and-flare skirt. It’s glamorous, but you need a great body to pull it off.

What’s the average bride spending these days?
$4,000, and half of my brides are buying a second gown for the reception.

Are they wearing veils?
Sure. Very simple gowns lend themselves to veils with a ribbon trim. The more formal the wedding, the longer the veil. If you’re wearing a tea-length dress, opt for a pouf veil, cage veil, or no veil at all.

How coordinated should the bridal party be?
Make sure each of them looks good, even if that means putting them in different dresses. Twobirds Bridesmaid sells convertible dresses you can wear in at least a dozen different ways, depending on your body type.

What would you wear to your wedding?
Do you want to freak out my boyfriend?

Tip From the Trade

“Wear pale blue or pink jewelry, or a shoe in an unexpected color or pattern—like polka dots!” Earrings, $4,500 at Doyle & Doyle.


Earrings Photo Courtesy of Doyle & Doyle

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