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Austin Scarlett: Exclusive Interview at COUTURE

Over the weekend, we were very excited to have attended COUTURE: New York Bridal Fashion Week (formerly WeddingChannel Couture Show), which is the most established, premier bridal industry trade show in New York and has been the launching pad for legendary wedding dress designers such as Monique Lhuillier, Reem Acra and Lela Rose.  This magnificent event, held twice a year, welcomes thousands of national and international designers, retailers and press to introduce, buy and announce the latest fashion trends of the bridal world.  And this year, Austin Scarlett unveiled plans for his new bridal collection, set to debut in fall 2012 at New York Bridal Fashion Week!  Although we're scheduled to attend Austin's autumn runway show, it was such an honor to be afforded an opportunity to meet and interview him during the exclusive preview.

Austin first gained recognition for his designs on the original season of Project Runway before being one of the youngest designers in history to be named Creative Director of a couture bridal and evening wear collection in 2006.  He designed over six seasons of gowns from Spring 2006 to Spring 2009 to critical and commercial acclaim before venturing on to other creative projects of his own.

Since he made his debut in 2005, Austin’s name has become synonymous with beauty, femininity and high fashion. His work has been described as “magic” (The New York Times), “worthy of a goddess” (Elle), “technically innovative and esthetically sublime” (Madam Figaro) and I had the pleasure of sitting down with him to discuss his upcoming bridal collection in depth.  Here's what he had to say about his upcoming collection and overall love for all things bridal:

Austin, how did you get into fashion design?
Design is something I feel I was born with.  For as long as I can remember, I fantasized about beautiful fairy-tale princesses.  I also had two younger sisters growing up, so they were my perfect models, and we’d always play dress-up … so that’s how it really began.  In high school, I was even creating prom dresses for my friends.  And finally I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology as a teenager.  I love fashion!  I’ve always loved couture, romance, beautiful fabrics ... putting in a lot of love and bringing lots of detail into one amazing piece is "my thing." 

Is that what drew you to the bridal part of fashion?
I think so.  With wedding dresses, it’s just one of the rare opportunities where you can really lavish and sew the finest fabrics, craftsmanship, handwork, laces - all of those wonderful couture elements.  And it’s not just a runway fantasy, this is a real garment that’s part of a woman’s life.  You’re fulfilling the dreams of so many women and that’s really the best part; the excitement and the memories these women will have forever. 

How was your experience as Creative Director at the couture bridal house you designed at for over 3 years?
Wonderful!  I loved it.  They hired me to take over the collection and it was an amazing opportunity.  I really fell in love with designing a collection of wedding dresses.  That was my first experience with this industry and meeting the brides face-to-face was great too. 

Are you drawn more towards the more subtle details when it comes to designing bridal gowns?
I love a range.  While I've designed really lavishly embellished gowns in the past, my collection is a little lighter, a little fresher, but it still has grandeur, opulence and drama.

Why now have you decided to branch out on your own?

I’ve always wanted to have my own collection which could focus on my style and really give the bride something from a younger point of view, which is what the Austin Scarlett collection reflects.  It took a long time to get to this point, a lot of hard work.  But I didn’t just want to jump into my own business when I wasn’t quite ready.  Now, I feel that I’m at a point in my life where I’ve really gained the experience to do it on my own.

Who is the bride who’s most likely to select an Austin Scarlett gown?
She is a hopeless romantic.  She’s been dreaming about her wedding day ever since she was a little girl.  She really wants her wedding dress to be the center of attention at her wedding.  She wants something magical.  She wants to live out a fantasy at her wedding.  And that’s what I love to create.

Is there a gown from this debut collection that you’d say is your favorite?
It’s really impossible to say because every dress is so different on different women.  They really come to life once she (the bride) puts them on, so it’s really hard to choose a favorite.  But, I am really excited about the silk organza gardenia gown (pictured below).  The entire bottom skirt comes off, so it’s two pieces.  I love the idea of detachable trains and versatile skirts, whereas you can have something very grand and opulent for the ceremony, sparing no extravagance, but then you can have something very fun for dancing or even for the honeymoon.  Plus, the gardenia has always been my favorite flower … the elegance and chicness of it has always been an inspiration for me.


When the collection hits in the fall, what would you most like people to take away?
Just a sense of dreams coming true.  I’d like them to also see the love that I have for what I do and the love I have for women, in helping them realize their vision of themselves on their wedding day.  I really can’t wait to get out there and start sharing my dresses with brides.  I’m designing for a new generation of brides.  I’m so happy to get started!

(me with Austin Scarlett)

The Austin Scarlett collection will make its first appearance at the Neiman Marcus Flagship Store in Dallas this fall.  Beginning this October, his gowns will be available through specialty boutiques and select department stores nationwide.  

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by Rashana Anderson
Founder & Managing Director, THE BRIDAL PARTY LLC


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