I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing Maria Elena Model and Bridal Connoisseur, Jim Verraros. Jim’s husband owned the Bridal Expo in Chicago so he is very experienced in the bridal industry. He fell in love with the couture and fashion side of bridal. Because Solutions Bridal is hosting a Maria Elena trunk show next week,
I had to interview model and expert, Jim, myself!
Jim gave me his insight of designers and the industry.
What made you want to get into the bridal industry?
To be honest, I married into it! I came from the Entertainment Industry (I was a top ten finalist on the first season of American Idol) and after I moved back home to Chicago, I met my husband who owned Bridal Expo Chicago luxury, a company that is the liaison between brides and wedding professionals. I was so drawn towards the fashion end of it. From becoming obsessed with couture, to ad campaigns, the designers themselves as people, and of course New York Bridal Fashion Week.
What is your favorite part of the industry?
My favorite part of the industry? I think it’s the anticipation of new collections that debut at New York Bridal Fashion Week. There are so many incredibly talented designers that churn out these unbelievable gowns, and you think to yourself, ‘How are they going to top themselves this season?’ And then they do; time and time again. It’s pretty spectacular to see how they evolve as artists, the inspiration they draw from and the final product that graces the runways.
Who is your favorite bridal designer?
This is an IMPOSSIBLE question for me to answer! There is something so special about every single one of them. If you can remain true to yourself, your brand, your identity as a designer without giving in to what sells, or what’s popular…that’s a designer I love. Hayley Paige is definitely one of those designers. She’s on her own path and is so special. Johanna Johnson is another personal favorite of mine. She’s just so regal and decadent with her aesthetic. Mira Zwillinger is fabulous. Ines Di Santo because she’s a legend and has delivered so many incredible statement making gowns. Lazaro who’s another iconic designer and still to this day travels to trunk shows and personally styles his brides. I love that about him. Carlos Ramirez of Liancarlo is such a brilliant artist. His gowns can be completely beaded from head to toe and weigh less than a pound. Inbal Dror has taken the bridal look and has put her thing down, flipped it and reversed it. (thanks, Missy Elliott). I could go on, but it’s best that I stop here
I hear from friends that you are a very positive person, how does a bride stay positive while planning a wedding when planning can get stressful?
I try to stay positive, but I’m also human and I have my moments just like everyone else. I think for a bride, she has to remember who she’s walking down the aisle towards. You’re marrying the love of your life, and you’re sharing this incredible moment with all of the people that mean something to you. Cherish that moment, live in that moment…everything else is secondary.
I know you modeled for Maria Elena, could you tell me about the experience?
Gisele Del Busto, Fashion Director for Maria Elena Headpieces has been a dear friend for several years now, and I’ve been such a fan of the pieces since I first discovered them. Bar none, there are no other accessories that compare to the glamour, the intricate details and the craftsmanship that are made in Maria Elena accessories. I never leave home wearing a suit without a Maria Elena boutonniere. Gisele asked me if I’d be a model for a campaign of theirs, and I didn’t hesitate! It was a lot of fun and I just hoped Maria Elena and Gisele were pleased with the end result. I hope to be asked to do it again!
What trends do you think are next for bridal fashion?
I think color is going to become more and more popular. Brides are searching more for gowns that allow them to be unique and stand out. I don’t see lace going away any time soon because it’s such a classic look for a bride. I love that sleeves are super popular and I even admire a crop-top-bride. I’d love to see some ready-to-wear trends in bridal like a detachable cape like Solange Knowles donned on her big day.
What is something every bride needs to finish her look on wedding day?
I truly believe that being a bride is being your most beautiful. More is more. So, at the end of the day, I think a little sparkle somewhere is something every bride needs. Whether it’s a statement necklace, earrings, headband, belt, bracelet…whatever your taste, have a little sparkle.
What advice would you give to brides when they first start shopping for wedding gowns?
Limit the amount of people you bring to your appointment. I see so many brides bring 6+ people with them, and it does nothing but confuse the bride. You’re the one wearing the gown, so I’d entrust a very small group of people (maybe your Mother, and Maid of Honor) to bring to an appointment. I also recommend doing your hair and makeup so that when you do start trying on gowns, you’ll get a better feel for how you’ll look on your wedding day. Last, but not least, try ANY AND EVERY gown, even if you don’t love it on the hanger. So many brides go into appointments thinking that they know what they want, and walk out with something completely different. Go into your appointment keeping all your options open and don’t be afraid to try different styles and silhouettes. You may be surprised what you end up falling in love with.
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