Wednesday August 8, 2012
Straps or strapless? Janet Nelson Kumar’s take on this old debate
Wedding gown designer Janet Nelson Kumar is an independent designer who travels to trunk shows on almost a weekly basis to talk with brides who will wear their wedding gowns on their wedding day. A wedding gown from Janet is one that is made in the USA with attention to brides of all shapes who want to wear elegance without bunches of bustles to weigh you down.
Bare shoulders for brides is one of the most constant trends in the wedding gown industry. Brides, who haven’t worn a strapless dress since their prom, want to show off their shoulders to their wedding guests. However, since Princess Kate’s wedding, brides want to cover up their arms with sleeves or straps to hide chubby arms or to support their chest. Janet designed a collection with a muted diversity in fabric, necklines and sleeves that will leave your groom gleaming.
What is modern sophistication?
It means in the current times, elegance and sophistication is is an easier style of dressing. It’s pairing something expensive with something in-expensive, something vintage with something new, and all done with a air of nonchalance. And it allows for more self expression. It’s not stuffy, matchy-matchy, or too high style.
What are the major reasons brides get frustrated when buying wedding gowns?
I see brides sometimes getting frustrated with so many opinions while trying on dresses. Even though the friends and family of the bride think they’re being supportive by voicing their opinions, this is also the time to listen to the bride. How does the bride want to see herself? What does she feel most elegant and herself in. Not everyone can express themselves fully, so I always try to listen to the bride, even the unspoken words.
Why do so many brides choose strapless wedding gowns?
Most brides don’t dress up in their everyday lives, and a strapless dress still has the romance attached to it, and this is mainly their one chance to wear one. It’s also a chicken-egg situation – designers continue to design a lot of strapless because it sells, editorials continue to feature strapless, and strapless continues to sell.
Why are wedding gowns with straps also a good option for brides?
Not all women look good in strapless styles and not every one will feel comfortable in one. On your wedding you want to look like the best version of you, but still you. And you want to be comfortable so that you can fully enjoy the day. So, there needs to be options for brides. Since we’ve had so many years of strapless, sleeves and straps are having a resurgence and looking fresh to the eye.
You spent 15 years in the fashion industry before starting your own company. Was it mostly in the wedding industry?
What did you learn during this time that helps you today? I spent almost half that time at Esprit in San Francisco, where I was on the manufacturing side, working with factories overseas and domestically. From there I moved to NYC and worked as a technical designer, which is liaison position between design and the manufacturing. So I was always very technical, and knew the whole ‘back end’. I was never in the wedding industry before starting my own company, so I had a big learning curve. But I always been interested in bridal and felt I had something to offer as a designer. My years at Esprit with the original owners Doug and Suzy Tompkins, influenced my whole design aesthetic. Esprit always had great style and attitude: fun, a little quirky, a little sexy, just the right touch and nothing over-done, and so I try to bring that spirit to my gowns as well.