He's bringing his latest designs to Maiden Voyage Bridal this month.
Designer Randy Fenoli has helped brides everywhere find the perfect wedding dress, and he’ll be assisting some St. Louisans during a trunk show at Maiden Voyage Bridal on November 4 and 5. On a quick break from filming the 16th season of Say Yes to the Dress, Fenoli chatted about his new bridal collection and growing up an hour east of St. Louis.
When did you discover your interest in fashion? I grew up on a farm in Mount Vernon, Illinois, but I actually was born at Scott Air Force Base. I did some dresses for my mom when I was 9. That was my start into fashion.
How did you get into bridal? In my third semester at [the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York], they had a bridal contest. One of the judges happened to be Vivian Diamond, who still owns and designs bridesmaid dresses for the Dessy Collection. Her husband, Paul Diamond, owned a bridal house. They called me on the pay phones at the dorm and offered me a job with my name on the label of both collections. I graduated on a Friday, started work on a Monday, and in four months had 32 dresses going down two different runways.
What about Say Yes to the Dress? When I became fashion director at Kleinfeld [Bridal in New York], they were filming and asked me to be on the show. I said, “I don’t watch reality TV, so I’m not going to be a part of this.” Finally, I did it—and here we are at season 16, almost 11 years later. It’s amazing how a little reality show about wedding dresses has taken off, which I attribute to the fact that the show is more about the family unit and how they treat each other at this one moment.
What’s changed in the industry? When I first started, there were a handful of designers everybody knew and wore. Today, there are thousands. The industry is so saturated.
So why create your own collection? There were so many brides coming in who wanted a couture-looking gown with a designer’s name on it, but it just wasn’t in their budget. I wanted to create a collection of gowns with couture details—beautiful embellishments, embroidery, and detailing—but still have the [affordable] prices.
What advice would you give about choosing a wedding dress? Choose the dress that makes you feel the most beautiful. If you look at fashion icons throughout the ages—Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, even Michelle Obama—it’s not about what they wore; it’s about how they wore it and the confidence. If you feel beautiful in what you’re wearing, you’re going to stand taller and smile wider and walk the aisle differently—and everyone is going to notice.