Hayley Paige is a rising star that has taken the bridal industry by storm, designing chic, trendy gowns fit for the most fashion forward brides. Starting her career as an intern at Elle Magazine under Nina Garcia, Hayley quickly rose to the top designing for many big names including Jill Stewar, Melissa Sweet, and Marchesa. In our interview with Hayley, she reveals what has inspired her chic creations and what it takes to make it in the industry.
Do you have a method behind naming your gowns? Does each name have a meaning?
Naming the gowns is what I like to call the “creative christening” part of the season, and it’s the point in which the gown officially takes on a personality. This personification is what inspires me to continually focus on the individuality of each bride. Every name has meaning and tells a little story. Sometimes I formulate ideas from brides I meet on trunk shows and other times, the gown just commands this attitude and “looks like a… (Insert charming girl name here)”.
Is their a particular gown or collection that is your favorite? Do you have a best selling gown that your brides can't get enough of?
Although I don’t like to play favorites, when we sent “Guindon” down the Spring 2013 runway, it was a brand defining moment. The striped organza is a spectacular fabrication and really allowed me to explore novelty in a refined way. Like the gown itself, the bride I've noticed going for “Guindon” has fabulous balance of adherence and newness. She is looking for an effortlessly feminine look with an undeniable wow-factor. The versatility in this design also lends itself to a variety of venues, which is why she’s always an exciting and popular choice. “Guindon” rocks a harbor wedding in Cape Cod just as easily as she graces the grand steps of the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
You recently started designing bridesmaids dresses for Occasions by JLM…What advice do you have for brides on how to dress their bridesmaids? What styles are the best for most body types?
In designing bridesmaids, the goal is to create an assortment that is wearable, affordable, and what I like to call “mix-and-matchable”. In today’s bridal world, there is less pressure to be formulaic and more emphasis on establishing a harmonious theme throughout the wedding party. I love when a bride chooses a color story or fabrication and leaves it up to her girls to choose the specific design/style. It’s a lovely way to make them feel more involved in the wedding and express a little individuality at the same time. With so many beautifully diverse body shapes, I always tell my girls that the best shape for your body type is the one that you feel the most gorgeous in. I don’t like to generalize too much, because every girl has a specific way of seeing herself.
I also feel there is a lot of exploration to be had in terms of fabrication and color. It’s important to not take away from the bride, but when one of the goals is to have an aesthetically beautiful wedding, you will need aesthetically beautiful bridesmaids too!
You started your career by interning for Nina Garcia at Elle Magazine…What was the biggest lesson you learned from that experience?
The best lesson I learned was “figure it out”. As with most creative fields, it’s important that you recognize whether you have an innate and distinctive ability to see what works and what doesn't. I found that if you are constantly being told what to do and what to see, you aren't truly expressing your potential or developing a unique aesthetic. If you are focusing on a creative career path, you have to be efficient in your delivery and willing to figure things out for yourself. The magic is in your unique interpretation, not in a tried-and-true formula or list of do’s and dont’s.
Do you often find yourself looking to ready-to-wear for inspiration in bridal? Any current trends?
Absolutely! The bridal industry can be over saturated with multiple interpretations of the same trend because there is a much slower turnover than in ready-to-wear. That is why with each passing season, I feel it’s important to focus on a fresh presentation and take a few design risks. As in love and relationships, meeting standards is important, but it’s the spontaneity and wow factors that give you those butterflies in your stomach. At the moment, I am loving all the ladylike separates and Victorian elements.
You studied abroad in design and styling…How has that helped shape your career? Has that experience influenced your designs?
Stepping out of your environment is hands down the best way to grow and the best way to ground yourself. It’s important to keep exposing your creative soul to adventure and new methods of interpretation. When I was in Paris, I learned about the intimacy of couture and the refinement in presentation. When I was in China, I developed a broader understanding of cultural interpretations and how to execute a unique aesthetic in the world of mass production.
You recently designed a very fashion forward crop top dress…Would you say your dresses are meant for a fun and fashion forward bride? Is this how you differentiate your designs from the rest of the bridal world?
My go-to motto is “don’t bring sand to the beach”. A lot of industry-driven demands are already being answered by other designers, so I feel it’s important to look for aesthetic niches. I try not to shy away from extravagance or over-the-top concepts, long as the final product bears witness to my creative process. To me, Hayley Paige is all about playful juxtapositions. Whether it’s balancing sweet with sexy or retro with baroque, I focus on making sure every design is balanced and has a charming combination of artistic elements. I think the Hayley Paige bride mimics this sentiment and is searching for that type of balance.
Tell us something about yourself that your brides would never know.
I was a gymnast growing up and can still do a backflip! I competed internationally and on the women’s varsity team at Cornell University. Keep calm. Tumble on.
Meet Hayley at her Kleinfeld Trunk Show on March 25-27