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What's Up Magazine

Interview | Project Runway finalist Carol Hannah

Apr 01, 2011 09:24PM ● By Anonymous

What's Up: What sort of trends do you see for bridesmaid dresses in 2011?

Carol Hannah: For me, personally, I don’t necessarily go by trends. You want to be current, not trendy. Trendy is one of those words that makes you think of bridesmaids looking back at their photos from years ago, and going, “hmmm…”

You want to tie in things. It’s more about a natural transition from normal style to your wedding. It’s about your vision of what kind of feeling you want to have, what side of your personality you want to show off. I think overall, the wedding industry is becoming more relaxed, and that’s really exciting. People don’t really feel obligated to do the matchy-matchy dresses anymore.

WU: How has that affected your designing? Do you design with the intent that girls will pick certain colors?

CH: Yeah, it’s funny. When I design a dress, I usually have a color in mind that I see it in. So it’s a different challenge when you’re trying to make one style suit all the different colors in your palette. You really do have to think about things in a different way, because they have a different purpose. It’s a little harder.

WU: You mentioned the struggles on choosing one color for all the styles of dresses in case the bride does want to go monochromatic.

CH: Generally, we do everything in the same colors, but we’ll try different fabrics. I basically do silk chiffon, and jersey. Jersey is a very new thing for bridal, and it’s just grown out of girls asking for it. It’s very comfortable and flattering. One of the hardest things about being a bridesmaid is that everyone is staring at you, and you can tell if someone’s feeling uncomfortable. Jersey has been a great fabric for us. But our jersey colors are different than our silk chiffon colors. They are different styles; jersey is a fabric that you can dress up or down. You get a lot of beach weddings, outdoor weddings, garden weddings, and those are very different colors: bold, bright, fun, and sassy. A lot of those weddings are summer weddings, too.

WU: Speaking of colors, what colors are you using in your designs for 2011?

CH: Well, we have a lot of them. We’re seeing a lot of navy blues, and Marino blue, which is a navy that has a little more blue in it. That’s been really popular. I think in the coming year, yellow is gonna’ make another little round. I also do a ton of teal and aqua and pale aqua. Everything in that family has been really popular, but that's probably also because that’s my favorite color.

WU: How long have you been designing bridal collections?

CH: A long time, and not long. It’s funny. My mom taught me to sew when I was, like, seven years old, and in high school I did my first wedding. So I’ve been doing weddings all through high school, college, after college, all of that. I actually did my first ready-to-wear collection like the month before I tried out for Project Runway. It’s funny because most people who know me from television don’t know that I come from a bridal background. Not only was I making wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses, I was working in the stores, helping girls pick out dresses.

WU: What drew you to bridal collections?

CH: It was just one of those things I was just suited for it. I love dresses, I love gowns. I make other things for myself, but anyone who watched Project Runway knows that I don't like to make pants, I don't like to make things like that because I think it’s boring, to be honest. You can do so much within bridal, have so much whimsy and so much fantastic detail, embellishment, and just really go for it, whereas if you did that everyday, you’d look like...

WU: A princess?

CH: (laugh) Yeah. It’s just too much. But with bridal, you can just go for it. I like the people, and I like the stories and connections that come with it.

WU: Do you get a lot of inspiration, just talking to people?

CH: Some of my favorite pieces come out of taking styles that I already have and tweaking them and making them more specific to what one person wanted, and then you’d be surprised how many other people want [that dress], too.

WU: Do you have any horror stories or anecdotes to share? From when you were a bridesmaid, perhaps?

CH: I’ve definitely been a bridesmaid.

WU: What is that experience like—having to wear someone's dress?

CH: Well, a lot of times, they’ll have me do the dresses for the wedding. And they’re all so low-key that they’d let us pick our own thing. So I'd just wear something from my own line.

WU: That sounds like the best way to go.

CH: It really is. Every time I’ve been a bridesmaid, it's been a very pleasant experience. I think everyone just needs to keep in mind what it’s about. It’s about marriage. You kind of accommodate your friend’s wishes. But I can’t think of any horror stories.