FashionBride Interview with Michael Shettel

Alfred Angelo is one of the most recognized brand of bridal apparel around the globe. For nearly 75 years they have been dressing brides and the members of their wedding party in elegant and affordable gowns.

FashionBride managed to talk to the renowned Alfred Angelo’s designer, Michael Shettel who managed to give us some insight details on what lies behind those wonderful collections.

When did you decide to become a designer  and why  a focus on brides?

I studied Fashion Design at FIT in New York.  Graduated with an Associate degree, then went back for a BFA, also from FIT, both in the early 1980’s.  I then went on to work with some of fashion’s iconic figures, such as Irving Penn, Diana Vreeland, M. Hubert de Givenchy in Paris, Tommy Hilfiger, Arnold Scassi, Georgio Sant’Angelo, and Hanae Mori.  All were amazing experiences, and provided a wealth of knowledge to me, not only about the person, but about their specialty in the fashion industry.  Each job was different and allowed me to put to work my schooling and see the relevance of it in the fashion industry as a whole, which gave me a wonderful perspective.  

I started working with Alfred Angelo in 1999, and have been designing with them ever since.  Bridal has been such a wonderful experience because it allows me the opportunity to work directly with the customers on many occasions.  It affords me the luxury of making elegant and beautiful gowns every season, that will always have special meaning for the wearer well after the day.

How did your first wedding gown looked like? Do you remember, can you describe it a bit?

The first wedding dress I designed was for my brother’s fiance.  It was a Christmas wedding, she wore a French Vanilla Silk Satin ball gown with  vintage ivory lace and crystal beading. We knew it was going to be cold so I added a fur trimmed cape.

Tell us about your inspiration and a bit more about the process of creating a gown.

Every season is inspired by some idea, photo or event.  Last season was a trip to Butterfly World in Florida. This season’s collection is definitely inspired by our 75th Anniversary.  To look back on our storied history and see what beautiful gowns came before, and then create a new classic in modern fabrics and silhouettes was such a wonderful opportunity and challenge.

How long does it take to create a brand new gown?

From concept and sketch to exacting original patterns, sewing, embroidery and beading designs to finessing….finessing and many fittings..8-10 weeks.

Do you also work with brides? Or you just offer them a given pattern?

I love working with the brides!  It’s, hands down, the best part of my job.  To be able to have that one on one experience with a bride in helping her choose her perfect dress for the biggest day of her life, and getting to know her personality and style, then knowing when you’ve found “her” dress….it doesn’t get much better than that.

Have you got any particular dress you designed and has a very special meaning for you? A dress that you remember and care about?

I think this 2009 collection is very special to me because of what it signifies…Alfred Angelo’s presence in the bridal industry for 75 years.  We are one of very few companies in bridal to have survived so long and also still remain a family owned company.  There’s a lot of history here, and we are celebrating that this season.

Do you think a bride should stick to white in a more traditional approach ? Or should we start thinking in colors?

Alfred Angelo loves incorporating variety into our designs.  We are one of the bridal companies at the forefront of blending color into white gowns and presenting gowns that are not white at all. 

Adding a splash of color is one way to add a modern and contemporary spin on a traditional white gown. In every collection we offer new styles in our wildly popular Dream In ColorTM collection.   The response to Dream In ColorTM  has been so overwhelming because it allows the bride to be a part of the design of her gown and adds an additional level of personalization.  

What I’ve learned working with the brides is that they really want to be part of the design process.  By allowing them to have a dress that comes in ivory or white with 55 different colors to add to a panel train, a trim on a neckline, or a sash, they really become part of the design process.  By offering 55 colors in our color palette, the bride can personalize her wedding to her linens, flowers, bridal party, the overall theme of their wedding, making it truly one-of-a-kind.  We also have the ability of ordering extra fabric for the groomsmen’s waistcoats or cravats, if the bride so desires.  Adding color allows her to use her imagination and create her own theme in order to best express her individuality.  

From your point of view, how should a perfect bride be?  What  do you have to offer and other  brands don’t.

All brides should remain calm.  First and foremost, relax and enjoy her day!!!!  She will glow!!!

Alfred Angelo offers amazing styling and inside construction…our fit will make any bride confidant.

Why do you think your gowns stay apart from the crowd?

Alfred Angelo really believes the bride is a variety of people, from different body shapes, heights, backgrounds and sizes, and we encompass every woman when creating the collections.  We design a variety of styles, but ultimately want to highlight and accentuate a woman’s body so she feels her best on her big day. We want to make all childhood dress up fantasies a reality, no matter what size and shape the bride is.

Since Alfred Angelo’s core philosophy is designing for  “every” woman, we offer the sizes of the modern woman.  And the modern woman ranges in sizes 2-28W, sometimes smaller, and sometimes larger.  Every single bride deserves to feel like the most beautiful woman in the world on her wedding day.  Our stockists allow us to help fulfill that fairy tale dream…for every woman.  A bride is a bride, and they all deserve to be beautiful.

Can you give us an insight on your 2009 Collection? What where your inspiration sources, what did you opt for as materials, shapes etc.

Spring 2009 is about light and airy chiffons, silks, beaded netting and tulles…fabrics that flow and glide when the bride walks across the room, giving the bride an ethereal quality. These fabrics are also easily manipulated to add texture or the illusion of texture, depending on the design of the dress. 

We are still showing  the slim and sleek silhouette that has been popular.  Modern brides are looking for sinewy shapes in supple fabrics that accentuate a woman’s body in all of the right places.  Fit and Flare and Mermaid silhouettes are popular for brides who love showing their well-toned bodies or natural curves.

This season, we introduced new mermaid and trumpet shaped gowns to really flatter the figure, in addition to the classic strapless, a-line shapes we are known for.  The new silhouettes give women with curves another option to celebrate their bodies.  The styles for 2009 reflect my inspirations, and are a combination of feminine, glamorous, sophisticated, and sometimes classic styles.

Last but not least, do you have an advice for FashionBride readers?

Splurge….treat yourself…..remember it’s all about you!!! Have a ball!!

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