By Jennifer Steffy Swanson
Ladies, if you ever want to feel truly beautiful, try to have a little one-on-one with Randy Fenoli. If that’s not in the cards, his book, It’s All About the Dress, is a fair substitute for the real absolutely fabulous thing. The designer, author and star of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress,” and “Randy to the Rescue” chatted with Engaged in anticipation of his upcoming appearance at the 2013 Grand Wedding Expo this Sunday.
ENGAGED: What trends did you see at Bridal Fashion Week (in October)?
RF: The fall 2013 collections had really dramatic silhouettes — lace yokes, really exaggerated ball gown skirts. We also saw sleeves, which is a big change because for years we’ve seen nothing but strapless. We had brides who were looking for sleeves because they wanted to be different than everyone else. Also, designers have focused on the whole dress — we saw so many backs that were as beautiful as the fronts.
It’s a great time to be a bride — women are so lucky. In the eighties, there was one kind of wedding gown: high neck, sleeves, pearls, lots of tchotchkes, gathered skirt. Today, whatever kind of bride you want to be, there’s a designer who’s got you covered. Claire Pettibone, Monique Lhuillier, Ravini — there’s a designer for every bride.
ENGAGED: In your book, you write that you don’t believe in Bridezillas — really?
RF: No, I really don’t. Some brides are more demanding than others, but deep down, women who come in for appointments are nervous, they might be intimidated, they may have body issues — friction can come from all those things, from her insecurities. Women just want to feel beautiful, particularly when they’re in that wedding dress. I think television has given brides a bad rap, I don’t think it’s human nature to be like that. And when there are issues between mothers and daughters or sisters, that’s family dynamics, not Bridezilla.
ENGAGED: What’s the most important thing brides should keep in mind when they’re shopping?
RF: Know your body. Know what parts you’re willing to show off and which parts you want to camouflage. Also, don’t go shopping until you’re ready to buy. If you go too early and you find a dress you love but you aren’t ready to buy for another year, that dress might be discontinued by the time you are ready, then how will you feel? Waiting too long isn’t good either because you’ll end up grabbing something off the rack.
ENGAGED: You also encourage brides not to define themselves shape or fruits (i.e. pear, apple) — but are there general guidelines to keep in mind?
RF: It’s the hourglass shape that you’re trying to achieve. If a woman says she’s a ‘pear shape,’ well, a woman who’s five feet tall and weighs 100 pounds isn’t going to look the same as a pear-shaped woman who’s six-foot-two and 300 pounds. The same dress is going to look different on both of them. If you have a large bust, there are certain designs and designers who are more able to accommodate what you’ll need — a higher neckline, more fabric, a larger cup. You should feel comfortable and confident in the salon and if you’re consultant isn’t helping you feel that way, you’re in the wrong place.
ENGAGED: What about the entourage: On “Say Yes to the Dress,” it seems the larger the entourage, the more difficult the appointment. Is there a magic number that can make or break an appointment?
RF: If you’re mature enough to get married, you should be mature enough to handle a bridal appointment. Lay down the ground rules for whoever you bring, and make sure they know what your price point is. Don’t allow them to pull $10,000 gowns if your budget is $1,500. If you’re set on a classic style, don’t allow yourself to be pushed into a modern style because that’s what your group likes. If you’re self-conscious about your hips, make it clear that no one starts gossiping about your hips when you’re on that platform. Tough love is okay — I sometimes take a tough love approach — but you want whoever you bring to be supportive.
ENGAGED: Any other keys to a successful appointment?
RF: Bring pictures. You may bring in a picture of ‘the gown’ you know you want, but if you’re four-foot-eleven and the model wearing the gown is six-two, that gown isn’t going to look the same way on you as it does on her. But, with that picture and by knowing the stock, a good bridal consultant will know what gown will work on your body and give you the same look.
For more Randy, be sure to attend the 2013 Grand Wedding Expo at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet this Sunday, January 27. His book, It’s All About the Dress: Savvy Secrets, Priceless Advice, and Inspiring Stories to Help You Find “The One,” (Grand Central Life and Style Publishing, $27.99) is available in bookstores and online.