Swarovski crystals, fine laces, and the perfect body-shaping corsets—Pnina Tornai has become the essence and glamour and sophistication in the bridal industry. Her couture designs are perfect for the fashion forward bride seeking that “wow” dress. In our interview with Pnina, she shares with us her inspirations, the science behind her corsets and which recently engaged celeb she’d most like to dress!
What type of bride inspires your designs?
"The brides that inspire me are original, fashionable and bold, with a deep appreciation for design and fashion.
I'm also very inspired by the different brides I meet worldwide. Sometimes by adapting the local cultural uniqueness and referents I’m inspired to widen the Pnina Tornai vision. Four instance, in South Korea the brides tend to be more modest than usual yet really appreciate the Swarovski crystal embroideries that I am so well-known for. My Indian brides inspired a whole new line that's coming out this month which is sari inspired. My Japanese brides love very structured and often a vanguard wedding gowns. In China, it is a custom for the brides to wear a red bridal gown. Some brides want more than one look for their wedding day– so I created a two piece bridal gown that is a combination between a mermaid gown and a classic Pnina Tornai ball gown. The fitted gown actually has a detachable couture dress and train! The bride can start with the Wow factor ball gown and later in the evening take it off and enjoy a chic fitted mermaid shaped gown for dancing the night away!"
What is your process when designing a gown? Where does your inspiration come from?
"As a couture designer, everything in my atelier is handmade. From the sketches I draw, to the hand draping and handmade embroideries. All the Swarovski crystals you see on my gowns were embroidered separately by hand one at a time. There are gowns from my 2014 runway collection that take hundreds of hours of work. The brides I meet are definitely a big part of my inspiration but so is my own life … the fact that I travel the world, sometimes four continents in one month, gives me a lot of different ideas that are inspired by unique cultural referents."
You feature many gowns with straps or sleeves in your 2014 Collection…Do you think gowns with straps are becoming more in style?
"I don't know if I believe in going with a certain trend or style when you design a wedding gown. I'm more into a long-lasting classic gown with a fashionable twist. I know too many women who were married 15 years ago and when they look back at the gowns they wore feel pretty silly. I believe in basing a gown on a classy shape but leaving plenty of room for creative and fashionable tweaks. In terms of straps and sleeves, if done correctly they can really have an amazing impact on your gown! Sleeves can actually slim your top part and straps can actually wrap a woman's body in a very flattering and sophisticated way. But… sleeves and straps that are done in a sloppy way can really damage a gown! It’s so important to choose a designer that knows exactly how to deal with them."
Your corset backs have become a signature of your gown. What is the process of creating the perfect shape for a bride? How did you come up with the structure of the corset?
"Well that's a great question which actually has a pretty funny and ironic answer. First of all I believe that the only way to really transform a woman’s body is with the laced up corset. It doesn't mean it needs to be tight or uncomfortable. My corsets are based on a firm structure that puts everything in place, usually with a light fabric over it. In some designs the fabric is so light that the corset is actually transparent. I think a light fabric around a firm structured corset is more comfortable. It feels lighter and since every gown is custom-made, the firm structure is fit perfectly to the bride’s size.
At first when the world saw these corset’s, the feedback was that they were too simple, bold and not sophisticated. Today they are one of my trademarks. I always believed in them before I got world-wide recognition and I still believe they are the best combination of sexiness and sophistication."
You have dressed many celebrities in the past. Which recently engaged celeb would you most like to dress for her big day?
"Honestly, I really like dressing my brides for their big day… They are my true celebrities! They made me who I am today! That said I do believe Jennifer Aniston is a great combination of a nice feminine healthy and sporty body with a fun personality. Now that I'm thinking of it, I have the perfect gown for her!!"
How do you want your bride to feel when she puts on one of your designs?
"I want my brides to feel exactly like themselves just stronger and even more confident in the way they look. I always say getting a perfect wedding gown will free your mind on your big day. All the pre-wedding planning and choosing the best gown that’s made especially for you, is exactly for that reason – so you can just know you look great! It’s also important for me, as the designer that they feel comfortable."
What do brides not know about you?
"I'm not sure the brides I meet every day understand how much of my inspiration and love of what I do comes from them. I also love it when they challenge me! When I need to do something that no one else can… I love it!! Achieving an impossible challenge has always been a great motivation for me. I think deep inside brides don't know I'm just like a little girl who never stops dreaming."
Meet the fabulous Pnina Tornai at her Kleinfeld Trunk Show May 15-24th.