Mark Zunino, exclusive Kleinfeld designer, spends his days building bridal creations from the inside out. From a sketch pad to a shimmering art form, his bridal masterpieces are of the upmost quality and fitted perfection. Mark Zunino weighs in on the importance of fit, the adventurous bride and looking forward not backward in bridal fashion.
1. Explain the evolution of your bridal collections for Kleinfeld. Where does your design process start? How do you turn visions into reality?
"My bridal collections are a never ending process, one collection rolling into the next. My inspiration comes from everything around me. By being an observer and taking it all in, inspiration can come from texture, sound, color, mood or almost anything. Once I determine my direction, my process is equally divided between the conceptual design and the fabrication I use. After sketching in detail with pencil and paper, I then start working with my pattern maker and draping the fabrics on a dress form, ensuring no loss in translation from one hand to the next, throughout the process, until completion."
2. When you design custom gowns with brides, what is your first step in the process? How much of an influence do the brides have in the process? Is it a challenge to design custom gowns?
"I first sit down with my bride and really try to get to know her and understand her personality. A bride usually has definite thoughts on how she wants to look on her wedding day. My job is to understand her wants and needs, translate them into a silhouette that not only works for her body shape, but transforms her. My custom work is usually my most creative. These are one of kind designs that need to only please one person, the custom bride. I learn something new with each experience. This experience trickles down into each and every collection I do."
3. You are known for your fabulous built-in corsets in your gowns that take up to 2 inches off the waist. Why are these so important to the build of your gowns?
"Fit is EVERYTHING!!! For my gowns, the inner structure is just as important as the outer. I want every bride to feel as if she's wearing a custom gown. The gown should feel effortless. I want her to feel beautiful, elegant and sexy!"
4. You have a very successful eveningwear line as well as bridal. What sparked your interest in bridal? Do the design elements from your eveningwear collections transition over into your bridal creations?
"I've really listened to all my custom brides. I kept hearing what they felt was missing in bridal wear and why they were coming to me. My clientele is affluent and well traveled, so they are usually at the forefront of fashion. They know quality and good design. They look foward, not backward. This keeps me on my toes and makes sure my vision is always on what's coming next. As far as elements of my evening wear influencing bridal, definitely yes. I believe this is the direction of the modern bride. The adventurous are already doing it."
from Mark's latest Kleinfeld collection featured in The Knot magazine.
5. What is a favorite memory you have from working with a bride?
"I was making a custom gown for a well known actress getting married to a rock-star. She had spent eight months fitting a gown being made by another designer who was giving her the dress as a gift. She was two days away from getting married in Paris and absolutely hated her dress. She knew the photo's would be highly publicized and was horrified. Late one night, I received a panicked phone call, pleading me to help. I rallied my team and within 36 hours she was happily on a plane to Paris with beautiful new gown."
6. What do you enjoy most about designing for the bridal industry?
"It's one of the happiest occasions in a couples lifetime. It's the day most girls have dreamed of. For me, to be a small contributor is PRICELESS!"
7. Tell us something about yourself that your brides would never know.
"My education was originally in architecture!"
Meet Mark Zunino during his trunk show at Kleinfeld March 28th – March 30th.
– Lindsey Groginski