Justin Alexander Designer Tony Mentel


Courtesy of Justin Alexander

On the heels of the launch of PURE, wedding dress company Justin Alexander's eco-friendly dress line, we sat down with the company's head designer Tony Mentel to chat about the new collection and what it really means to have a green wedding. —Cari Wolfert

What makes a wedding dress eco-friendly?

Our philosophy is to think about the whole process of making a dress and ways which we can reduce the carbon footprint and the harmful pollutants which could be used in the making process. We use 100% organic fabrics...

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so no pesticides or growth stimulants are used in manufacturing process. The decoration on the dresses is made from natural elements such as wooden beads, shell beads, semi precious stones, real pearls etc.

If a dress is "green" does that mean it's more expensive?

Generally organic fabrics are more expensive than regular fabrics, as they take longer to produce, and the raw material yields are lower without pesticides. Also decorations such as real pearls are naturally more expensive as things such as plastic sequins etc. But we can still make competitively priced dresses for the current market, and I think that when customers realize all the extra things which are involved in the process, the value of the dress is apparent.

What was your inspiration in creating the styles and silhouettes in the PURE collection?

I was looking at what sort of bride would want to wear an eco-friendly dress, and what was missing on the market. What I found was that "eco" does not have a very sexy or chic image, and this does not have to be the case. The fabrics we use are beautiful, and so luxurious to touch. I wanted to make dresses also feel great to wear, so we line all dresses in a 100% Organic Cotton sateen, which is so soft and sensual, but also great for warmer weather. The styles and silhouettes then developed from the draping and movement of these fabrics.

What wedding setting do you think dresses from the PURE collection should be worn in (ballroom, garden, beach, etc)?

The dresses can be worn for any occasion, but they do suit perfectly for outdoor warm weather occasions, because of the comfortable breathable fabrics.

What is your favorite dress from the PURE collection and why?

I love OJ17, which is a soft Grecian-style gown in luxurious 100% organic soft silk satin. It is glamorous yet understated and has a bold beaded neckline featuring plates of mother of pearl, Quartz crystals and marble beads. The fabric is so soft and liquid-like, our model did not want to take the dress off because she said it felt so good.

BONUS: What are some other simple ways brides can make her wedding eco-chic?

The trend for eco weddings is gaining momentum, and I think that more people are thinking about generally making their lives more eco friendly, and your wedding can fit into this philosophy too. You can choose local native blooms rather than imported flowers with miles of flights behind them. The same goes for local food and organic alternative. Also, send your invitation son recycled paper, or even e-mail them.

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