Designer spotlight: Bridal gowns

Say "I do" to the modern, affordable dresses by these locally produced bridal lines, then shop with our TONY discounts.

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  • Rutledge Avenue gown, $2,825, at Lovely Bridal Shop

    Rutledge Avenue gown, $2,825, at Lovely Bridal Shop

  • Chalmers Street gown, $2,733 (normally $3,215), at Carol Hannah showroom

    Chalmers Street gown, $2,733 (normally $3,215), at Carol Hannah showroom

  • Wentworth Street gown, $2,715, at Lovely Bridal Shop

    Wentworth Street gown, $2,715, at Lovely Bridal Shop

  • Hasell Street gown, $2,380 (normally $2,800), at Carol Hannah showroom

    Hasell Street gown, $2,380 (normally $2,800), at Carol Hannah showroom

  • Beaufain Street gown, $3,475, at Lovely Bridal Shop

    Beaufain Street gown, $3,475, at Lovely Bridal Shop

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Designer Carol Hannah Whitfield

    Designer Carol Hannah Whitfield

Rutledge Avenue gown, $2,825, at Lovely Bridal Shop

Rutledge Avenue gown, $2,825, at Lovely Bridal Shop

Carol Hannah Whitfield of Carol Hannah (carol-hannah.com)

Who she is: The Project Runway season six contestant began sewing at the age of seven, and designed her first wedding dress in high school. "There are some things that you can be taught and some things you just have a gut feeling for," says the South Carolina native, who never went to school for fashion design but holds a business degree from the College of Charleston. "I felt like I had already learned the things I needed to know." After creating a ready-to-wear women's collection in 2009, Whitfield switched gears to debut her whimsical bridal collection in April 2010. Today, her dresses are made in the Garment District and sold at 40 retailers worldwide.

About the line: "A lot of fashion is about the push and pull between the art and commercial sides of it," notes Whitfield. "The bridal industry tends to be easier in that way—you have a bit of a larger budget." Whitfield uses quality fabrics such as silks, chiffon and satin, and hand-makes feminine embellishments like flowers and draping to create bohemian bridesmaid dresses ($160--$285) and bridal gowns ($895--$4,225). The latter assortment caters to nontraditional brides, with raw-edged hems, oversize bows and floral details, and plenty of short, playful styles. In addition to her made-to-order collection, Whitfield specializes in custom commissions for brides-to-be (starting at $4,000). "It's always bothered me that fashion can be so detrimental to the audience it pursues," admits Whitfield, who donates 5 percent of her profits to various charities that help girls with self-esteem issues, like Girls Inc. (girlsinc.org) and Restore NYC (restorenyc.org).

Where to buy: Bella Bridesmaid (545 Eighth Ave between 37th and 38th Sts, suite 1525; 212-695-2700, bellabridesmaid.com), Kleinfeld (110 W 20th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 646-633-4300, kleinfeldbridal.com) and Lovely Bridal Shop (313 W 4th St between Bank and W 12th Sts; 212-924-2050, lovelybride.com). Mention TONY at the Carol Hannah showroom (355 W 39th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves; 212-564-8014, carol-hannah.com) for 15 percent off all orders through July 16.

Saukok Tiampo of 57Grand | Carol Hannah Whitfield of Carol Hannah


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