Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our Interview with Vi Hoang of Dolly Pearl

Breathtaking colors, lovely ruffle and flower details, and what we think are just the most perfect dresses all around… Dolly Pearl makes us swoon over each and every gown we see. Vi Hoang created this brilliant collection of dresses after designing for her own bridal party. Having an amazing sense of a woman’s body and incorporating her innovative ideas, she has created such flawless, modern designs. This collection is intended for a bride in search of beautiful, one of a kind dresses for her bridal party, that will make all her maids delighted to wear them on the big day! Vi was able to sit down to answer a few of our questions, even about her most embarrassing high school fashion faux pas…

BB: What do you think has been the most important factor in the success of your business?

V: The most important factor in the success of my business is the personal connection to my clients. In short, happy and satisfied clients equate to a successful business.

BB: When designing for women, specifically bridesmaids, what are your inspirations?

V: When designing for women/bridesmaids, my inspirations are simple--how do I make a woman feel comfortable and exquisite at the same time? Those are the two main points that I start with when I begin the design process. The creativity flows through my hands from there.

Vi's design studio

BB: Was there a specific event or person in your life that led you to begin designing bridesmaid dresses?

V: My wedding actually led me into designing bridesmaid and special occasion dresses and gowns. After my wedding was posted on my wedding photographer's blog, I began receiving numerous requests for my ready to wear styles in a variety of colors for bridal parties. I just thought it was so fun and special to be included on such an important day for brides. It was kismet!

 Katy Perry by Getty Images
 via MTV Style

BB: If you could give any famous woman a makeover, who would she be and how would you style her?

V: This is a tough one! I'm all for individuality in style, even if it's bad style! If I could give any famous woman a makeover it would be Katy Perry--she's all over the place! She has such an amazing figure, and occasionally she'll wear outrageous things to make a bold statement. I think she could still make a statement even if she tones it down a couple notches. You don't have to be outrageous to garner attention.

BB: What high school trend are you embarrassed to admit you followed?

V: I actually went through this horrible phase in high school where all I wore was Gap brand clothing--in black, white, and khaki colors. Talk about one-dimensional! The worst thing in the world to me is losing your individuality and conforming to the masses. Thankfully that was a very short phase.

BB: If you weren’t a designer, what career path would you have chosen?

V: If I wasn't a designer, I would definitely be doing something in the creative field. Before I was a fashion designer, I actually was an interior and graphic designer. I also love writing, so that's definitely something I would consider doing. It's creative, and a profound way to express myself.

Vi wearing the Melinda dress
BB: What is your favorite dress in your collection?

V: My favorite dress in the entire collection would have to be the Melinda dress. It’s minimal, yet sweet and simultaneously sexy. It's just perfect for any special occasion.

BB: Any advice for certain styles for different body shapes?

V: My advice for certain styles for different body shapes--if you're busty, a more tailored fit is ideal, hippy body types look amazing in super flowy dresses, and long torsos look amazing in belted and high waisted dresses.

BB: What are you carrying in your purse?

V: I keep the minimum in my purse--wallet, keys, the lipstick I'm wearing that day, powder compact, anti-bacterial hand lotion, business cards, and a miniature measuring tape roll.


                                                                                                                       Thank you Vi!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wear it Again...

Dress: Swoon "Malibu"/ Shoes: Pour La Victoire "Tifara"/ Sunglasses: Gucci / Scarf: Echo "Surf's Up"/ Bangles: Peggy Li "Thin Hammered Bracelet"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meet & Greet: Brittan, owner of Boston

After hearing of a franchise opportunity with Bella Bridesmaid years ago, Brittan McCarthy couldn’t wait to open the doors to her own storefront. On December 23rd of 2009 her wishes came true, as she celebrated the grand opening of Bella Bridesmaid Boston! Since then Brittan has kept busy with her Boston brides and even helped her best friend find the perfect dresses for her upcoming wedding. We finally got to chat with Brit and ask her a little more about her history before owning Bella, and how life has been since owning her own boutique…

BB: What did you do before owning Bella?

B: From 2003-2007, I owned a small business, “A Kid’s Kab”, that transported small children to and from daycares and preschools in the inner city of Boston. I then went and worked at an ad agency working with biotech and life science companies on their global branding. I thought I was heading to business school to grow further in this industry, but then caught wind of Bella Bridesmaid and was hooked!

Brit at Bridal Market 2011 with fellow store owners
and designer Jessica Brown of Ivy & Aster
BB: Why did you want to become part of the Bella franchise?

B: I have a good friend from college, Erin, who now owns the Chicago and Milwaukee franchises with her mother Kathleen. She had mentioned Bella Bridesmaid when I ended my time with “A Kid’s Kab.” But at that point I was ready try the corporate world and I didn’t think twice about Bella. Flash forward 2 years… I wanted to see if there was a Bella Bridesmaid in Boston that had a certain dress for my friend Kelly’s wedding. I saw on their website the franchise location was for sale and for some amazing reason, I sent an inquiry requesting more information. The rest is history!

BB: What is the most memorable moment so far in your boutique?

B: I have a many memorable moments so it’s hard for me to pinpoint one that tops them all. But, if I have to choose, I’ll never forget one of my first sales. I had just opened and I had someone call last minute on a Friday, I was totally booked for that Saturday. I offered her a quick, 30-minute opening after a fitting appointment, which usually is my lunchtime. She was the sweetest, kindest bride and had a fabulous vision. She came back later at the end of the day and ordered 8 dresses! Of course I was ecstatic about the sale, but more importantly learned that you never know what to expect. I haven’t taken a lunch break on a Saturday since!

LulaKate Zoe

BB: What are your favorite bridesmaid dresses that are hanging in your personal closet?

B: Where do I begin? I love my LulaKate Zoe and Bridget dresses. I currently am counting the days for my new Ivy & Aster Phoenix in stripes and Songbird in Chartreuse to arrive - I already have shoes picked out to wear with these the second they get here! 57 Grand Riverside and Carmine, Swoon Bali, Twobirds with the Rosettes, Joanna August Dara, and Carol-Hannah Pinckney all sit in my closet too. I just got engaged and cannot wait to wear the LulaKate and Ivy & Aster little white dresses!

BB: Tell us about a favorite recent bride that has an interesting story.

B: My best friend, Shannon, is getting married in April 2012. She got engaged last December and came to visit in February. She had already found a wedding dress, so the plan was to just to look at bridesmaid dresses. She ended up seeing a LulaKate bridal gown that I had borrowed for the week and wanted to try it on. This dress is so different than the gown she initially found, but she wanted to try it on. She came out of the dressing room with the most amazing smile on her face and looked at me and said this is my dress! Shannon lives in Atlanta and I’m here in Boston, so we decided to meet in the “middle” (any excuse for a trip to Charleston) at LulaKate, so she could try the dress on one more time. She is now wearing her LulaKate gown, with some fabulous LulaKate sashes, and her bridesmaids will be wearing Thread when she gets married this April in Cleveland!

Lauren Bush, Image by Norman Jean Roy
via Fashionologie
BB: What is your fave celebrity wedding dress?

B: I love Lauren Bush’s wedding dress that was designed by Ralph Lauren. I adore the vintage style of the dress with the sleeves and neck, but  also that it has a modern flare with the slim bodice and open back… stunning!

BB: What are a few of your most versatile styles at the moment?

B: Zoe from LulaKate! It is such an adorable dress that can so easily be re-worn after the wedding day. You can wear it with a cardigan, belt and tights in the fall and winter…or my favorite, is wearing it in the summer with ballet flats or sandals. We just got a new sample in Grass Shantung, I may need to add this to my closet!

Nina Forbes Shoes in Gold

BB: What is the best wedding trend you've seen recently?

B: I’m so glad shoes are back to being an important part of the bridal party’s whole look and style! It just takes one awkward pair of shoes on one bridesmaid to distract from the fabulous dresses and the bride! Nina Shoes offer so many great styles and colors for the bridal party. Everyone can pick their style for their comfort, but have a cohesive look! Our brides have been loving the canary, fuchsia, steel, and gold colors on the Evelixa, Forbes, and Culver shoes.
                                                                             Thanks Brit!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Coren Moore 2012 Collection

A rainbow of colors, an array of fabrics and phenomenal new styles make Coren Moore’s new collection of bridesmaid dresses some of our absolute faves! The fresh, new designs allow for a bride to pick the perfect dresses to fit the vision of her big day. Whether you’re looking to have a more formal affair with long dresses or a backyard soiree, this collection of dresses gives you all the options you could ever need…

Friday, February 10, 2012

Be Mine...

“Be mine.” Two small words that combine to make just the loveliest little phrase… and really what we desire to hear each year on February 14th. Whether you have a romantic date with your significant other, or plans to go out with your very best girlfriends... you're probably in search of the perfect dress to fit the occasion. Well, we Bella’s say, “look no further!” Why not re-use that bridesmaid dress? We just so happen to think this is just the right occasion to dust off that Joanna August dress that may be lingering in your back of your closet. Still wondering how to make that leap from wedding garb to a fun night on the town? Then take a peek at our Valentine’s Day style board for some inspiration!

1. Guess Women's Rapine Slingback Pump

2. Joanna August, Erica dress in Valentino Red

3. Kendra Scott, Nelsie Earrings in Coronet

4. H&M Blazer

5. Kendra Scott, Paley Cuff Bracelet in Blossom

                                                                                                                  Bella Bridesmaid


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Joey Brooks of Elle & Jae Accessories

Joey Brooks

Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! Joey Brooks, owner and designer of Elle & Jae Wedding Accessories, knows exactly how to add that extra special something to your fabulous wedding party. Her sashes, headpieces, and combs come in an array of fabrics and colors bringing endless options and versatility to your bridal party. Not only are these accessories beautiful and unique but are also, all handmade in Los Angeles. As fans of this amazing line of accessories, we wanted to chat with Joey and see where she gets her inspiration for her lovely and one of a kind collection…

BB: What do you think has been the most important factor in the success of your business?

JB: I think it’s due to a creative instinct and filling a gap in the bridal market. I believe it’s also a great attention to detail… a high quality and craftsmanship. There are so many great designers out there, and I’m designing new, unique pieces that I love and think other modern women would love too.

BB: When designing your gorgeous accessories, what are your inspirations?

JB: I take inspiration from so many things – new and vintage apparel, photographs, discovering unique resources and lots of color… choosing and adding colors is the best part! And if you have ever been to the Rose Bowl flea market, you know just wandering the aisles is inspiring. I’m always shopping vintage designer markets in Los Angeles and looking at great design blogs.

BB: Was there a specific event or person in your life that led you to begin designing?

JB: When I was young my grandmother had a collection of thimbles on her wall and was an expert sewer. Even from an early age, she taught me to make clothes for my Barbie’s using t-shirts and socks… she even knit them sweaters! My grandmother always inspired me to be creative – she could paint, draw, sew, knit and needlepoint.

Julia Child via Vanity Fair

BB: If you could give any famous woman a makeover, who would she be and how would you style her?

JB: Julia Child, she is truly one of my heroes but I am not a fan of those high collar button-up blouses. (Although, it probably made changing clothes after cooking very easy!) I would love to see her in a circle skirt and ¾ sleeve sweater… or maybe since she likes prints, I’d put her in a classic DVF wrap – she would rock that look!

BB: What high school trend are you embarrassed to admit you followed?

JB: Bike shorts with boxers over them and scrunch socks in shoe boots. Man, middle school was rough!

BB: If you weren't a designer, what career path would you have chosen?

JB: I would love to work with animals; training therapy dogs would be so rewarding.

Champagne Flower Belt

BB: What's your favorite accessory in your collection?

JB: I think my favorite piece from the bridesmaid collection is the champagne flower wide belt with rhinestone centers. It’s just so pretty for any dress. And I love the black ostrich and velvet sash from the bridal line.

Grecian headband

BB: Do you have any accessory rules to live by?

JB: I think if you can put a belt on something and give yourself a great waistline, then do it! And staying away from anything really hard and crunchy – I like soft fabrics.

BB: What's in your purse?

JB: Oh, I travel a lot so it can be messy in there. Currently, there are lots of receipts from trips, a moleskin notebook, ribbon swatches, safety pins, Aquafor, Mac face powder, a few pens, a balance bar, and my iphone.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our Interview with Loren James of Mamie + James

Loren wearing her own design, Bonnieux
A profound adoration for beautiful garments, her beloved Mamie, travels to France and the constant search for inspiring vintage pieces… Loren James encompasses all her passions for life into her breathtaking designs for her very own line, Mamie + James. Loren’s pursuit to design dresses tailored and becoming on all women is only part of her purpose… in her own words “these dresses are meant to be laughed in, danced in, and loved in.” Being an inspiration herself, we were curious to know more about this lovely lady and how she came to be…

BB: What do you think has been the most important factor in the success of your business?

LJ: I feel being brave may just be the most important factor. It takes a mixture of un-knowing and a craving for adventure to create a business. I think not knowing how everything is “supposed to be” done has helped me tremendously. In this way I don’t limit myself; I am free to create an environment or an aesthetic for my brand that is truly unique, and a complete reflection of who I am as a person, and as a designer. I’m really quite obsessed with every single detail, down to how a fabric swatch will be presented to a bride. I feel this somehow comes through to those who connect with Mamie+James, and hopefully find it just as charming as I do. My goal is to make sure everything is genuine, and lovingly made. I always keep in mind how my Mamie so carefully packaged every item she shipped to me, and how her devotion to her craft made each gift so much better. It is my goal to do the same for every M+J item that is delivered to each bride and her party.

BB: When designing for women, specifically bridesmaids, what are your inspirations?

LJ: I constantly think about the girl who will be wearing my dress, and in a sense she becomes my muse. I think about her day-to-day life, how she dresses, what she buys, how a wedding is special to her, but at the end of it all I try to create something that she would really love— a dress she can actually wear again. I am often inspired by moments and the feelings those moments bring...the emotion of the moment. I think that is the primary source of inspiration for all of my dresses: my own memories, and the dresses I dream up based on those moments. In turn, I take those ideas and place them in contemporary scenarios, trying not to limit my focus to only the wedding-specific aspect of my work. Yes, these dresses are for weddings—but alternatively they are for parties, for celebrations, for feeling lovely in… isn’t that really what a wedding is all about? I am also hugely inspired by vintage garments. I endlessly research clothing, pieces from both men’s and women’s collections. My Spring 2012 collection pulls inspiration from 50s and 60s American and French fashions.

BB: Was there a specific event or person in your life that led you to begin designing bridesmaid dresses?

LJ: I definitely was blessed to have been surrounded by many amazing women who believed in sewing and hand crafting garments. My Mamie constantly sewed and provided many delicately sequined costumes and fluffy tulle skirts for me over the years. I think I was the only little girl in Mississippi, who at age 4 fully knew the power of a fabulous sequined piece. I think my love for dresses really began with her. I also feel our society is so casual that it made me crave a more ladylike look, and I feel that nothing is more becoming than a woman in a fabulous dress. Since high school I have wanted to create bridal gowns, because I think there is something whimsical about a brides’ big day. It’s the realization of a lifetime of dreaming, and the fabrications are unique, showcasing a bit more freedom. Throughout college I put the idea of designing bridal to the back of my mind and worked on ready-to-wear inspired pieces, as was encouraged, however towards the end of my college career, a few of my professors frequently commented that my pieces had a deeply bridal feel to them. I suppose it was kismet!

Eleanor Roosevelt via National First Ladies

BB: If you could give any famous woman a makeover, who would she be, and how would you style her?

LJ: Of course I am going to choose a historical lady! I wish I could make over Eleanor Roosevelt. She had so many progressive ideas, and was just an amazing person—however, I feel she had a tendency to overlook her personal style. I would definitely place her in more tailored dress suits and style her hair in a more refined, neat manner. A lot of the clothing she wore was over-sized and ill fitting, almost frumpy. An extraordinary woman deserves to have an incredible wardrobe in order to garner more positive attention to herself, and ultimately her causes.

BB: What high school trends are you embarrassed to admit you followed?

LJ: Ohhh, where to even begin? It was at the turn of the millennium when I attended high school, so there was definitely an abundance of fashion offenses occurring on a daily basis. Glittery makeup, printed capri pants, fitted polo shirts, and… I have to stop there! This could be why I vehemently believe in classic styles today.

Loren's design space
BB: If you weren't a designer, what career path would you have chosen?

LJ: I have always loved science, and genuinely always thought I would be a physical therapist. Throughout design school I constantly thought of it as a back up plan. I mean, not many people are actually able to have their own fashion line, and I never thought I actually would! So, my back-up plan was that if designing didn’t work out for me as a career, I would go back to school to become an art therapist. I love the idea of using art as a way to help people overcome life’s obstacles and  better themselves. I am constantly looking for the metamorphosis in life.

BB: What is your favorite dress in your collection?
Bonnieux dress 

LJ: My favorite dress in the collection would have to be Bonnieux with skirt No.6. It was a dress bodice that I made a super last-minute change to before the patterns went out for grading, and it quickly became my favorite. I have always admired a rounded neckline on any garment, and I think the below-the-knee pencil skirt is just so classy. It was actually the first dress I had made for myself. After years of sewing and I have never had a dress of my own...until Bonnieux.

BB: Any advice for certain styles for different body shapes?

LJ: I constantly think of the girls who wear my dresses, and I constantly talk to friends about their dress insecurities (sorry girls!). Their advice continuously guides me, and in part led to the designs you now see for M+J. A friend of mine is busty and hates wearing strapless bras, so I kept her in mind when designing Coquette… the straps are wide enough to hide a bra strap. Another friend is constantly worried about her hips, but loves fitted garments, so that is where skirt No.1 saves the day! The fit is similar to a pencil skirt, and provides a feminine shape—but its pleats allow room to move, and cleverly disguises larger hips. She now has an M+J dress with skirt No.1 hanging in her closet! Additionally, the full pleated skirt, No.2, fits many hip widths and yet provides a consistently feminine silhouette. I wanted my collection to highlight elegant solutions for every kind of girl, and it is extremely important to me that they feel happy and confident in the dresses I’ve created.

BB: What are you carrying in your purse?

LJ: My Mamie taught me to always be prepared, so I carry everything in my purse! I have everything: Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, Mamie’s cute mini flashlight (perfect for those fabric shops with dim lighting!), measuring tape, thread, needles, Swarovski crystals, fabric swatches, 3 different shades of red lipstick, cough drops, Tylenol, Splenda, True Lemon, Emergen-C, Clif Bars, Strange Women’s rose scented hard perfume, etc. But the most meaningful item is a small suede floral change purse that contains the last bit of change leftover from when I first visited France. I just couldn’t bring myself to cash it in when we transferred back to US currency, and I have switched it over to every purse I’ve carried since college as a reminder that France is always near, and I will be back there again before I know it!

Thank you Loren!