Amsale Aberra's career as a couture bridal and eveningwear designer happened by necessity. While planning her 1985 nuptials, Amsale scoured the stores to find a simple, refined wedding dress. She found little in the way of clean, sophisticated gowns and discovered an untapped niche in the bridal market—elegant and understated dresses.
"Everything was so overdone and with too much ornamentation," says Amsale, who was sure that her taste in gowns was shared by many other brides-to-be. Amsale placed a classified advertisement for custom-made gowns for other brides-to-be who shared her taste in sophisticated, understated designs.
And so, with a few responses, a sketchpad full of designs, and a small team of couture sewers, Amsale started her business out of her New York City loft apartment. Since then, the name Amsale (pronounced Ahm-sah'-leh) has become synonymous with the "forever modern" wedding dress.
"Twenty years after the wedding, I want a bride to be able to look at her pictures and be as happy with the way she looked as she was on her wedding day."
Amsale's love of fashion began as a young girl growing up in Ethiopia. However, Amsale never considered becoming a designer: "In Ethiopia there were no fashion designers. I never knew that designing beautiful clothes was a profession to which one could aspire."
Amsale convinced her parents to allow her to leave Ethiopia in order to study commercial art in the U.S. While in school, a revolution broke out in her native country, which forced Amsale to stay in the States. With limited financial resources, Amsale recalls, "I would design and sew my own clothes because I couldn't afford to buy new things. That's when I first thought of becoming a fashion designer."
Amsale enrolled in New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and began her career as a design assistant for Harve Bernard upon graduation. Two years later, Amsale launched her custom bridal-gown business with her "forever modern" approach to sophisticated design.
Amsale's design philosophy has redefined the perception of the timeless wedding gown. Her innovative twists to time honoured hallmarks of the traditional wedding gown—reintroducing "illusion design," modern updates of the traditional bustle and tasteful colour accents including the now-famous "blue sash" gown—have become so popular among prospective brides that they have been recognized as modern classics.
She extends that viewpoint of individuality to her collection of chic and refined gowns for the bridal party, and in the Amsale Evening collection of couture evening wear—both lines a natural progression from the sophisticated and modern styles of her bridal collection.
Amsale's ball gowns, cocktail dresses and evening suits have been featured on the fashion and party pages of all the top fashion magazines, and worn by celebrities and socialites including Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Selma Blair, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, Heather Graham, Kim Basinger, Deborah Norville, Vivica A. Fox, Vanessa Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Heidi Klum, Katherine Heigl and many others.
Producers turn to Amsale when they need beautiful designs for films and television programs; her gowns have been featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", "Grey's Anatomy" and "27 Dresses."
Her Madison Avenue boutique, which opened in September 2001, has fulfilled Amsale's desire to present her designs in a setting that reflected her "forever modern" vision. In addition to the Madison Avenue boutique, Amsale's bridal designs are found across North America at the finest boutiques and specialty retailers.
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