Victor Harper is one of the most popular brands of wedding dresses sold nationwide, from New York, to Chicago, to California. Head designer Ralph Francisco has trained with the best, and shows his expert craftsmanship through his collections of gowns, including the handcrafted line, Victor Harper Couture.
We caught up with the man behind our sponsor Victor Harper to hear about his top tips for brides shopping for their wedding dress, the inspiration for his latest collection, and his favorite bridal trends.
This collection was inspired by the dreamy sunset of his of his favorite place.
"I started designing this bridal collection by first analyzing sales from the last collection," said the designer, noting that they rely on which styles brides like most to influence the silhouettes and details for the following season. "Then I glance at current trends, and then go with my gut. I integrate my desire to innovate with the colors and silhouettes that I am inspired by, most recently being the sky at my home near the beach in Florida. I was so inspired by the wispy sheerness and the pale opaque clouds in blush and ivory colors at sunset!"
Finding the right fit is key for brides searching for their dream dress.
"When designing for a special client, body and image always come into play. I tend to design softer shapes for women who feel confident about their body, and those dresses need less construction, and allow more freedom to create. A woman with specific body issues will know her weaknesses and strengths, what to accentuate and what to hide. For example, an empire gown will hide any waist or hip issues, also elongating the torso."
Photo: Courtesy of Victor Harper
The designer's favorite trend right now is also a timeless style.
We asked Francisco about his favorite trends, and he happily explained his love for the reemergence of the classic lace trend. "I am thrilled at the recent surge in interest in lace again. Nothing says, 'Here comes the bride!' more than lace." And his favorite fabric to design Victor Harper gowns? "My favorite fabric is silk shantung, I am just crazy over the weight and exquisite weave of this beautiful cloth, mixed with the raw slub texture — just sublime!"
Francisco says all brides should do these three things.
We asked the designer about the most important shopping tips for brides when looking for their wedding dress. "My number one shopping tip for brides is to know your budget! If you shop looking for a $10,000 dream dress, but your budget is $2,500, you will be very disappointed!" Said the designer, noting the importance of being realistic with your price range and being prepared with research about designers, silhouettes, and embellishments that you like. "Do your research. It's important to have an idea of what you think you'd like to look like on your wedding day, and you should bring those ideas to your bridal appointment. My third tip is to skip the entourage — don't bring too many friends and family members. It's difficult when brides end up with too many conflicting opinions. Bring two people closest to you who know you just as well (or maybe even better!) as you know yourself."
His dream client? One very famous movie star.
We asked the designer if he could create a Victor Harper wedding dress for anyone in the world, and he explained his very famous choice. "I would love to dress Jennifer Aniston, she's a modern self-made woman! I would put her in something sexy and sheer; perhaps a leopard pattern beaded bodice, with yards and yards of tulle for the skirt!"
And his favorite bride of all time isn't Kate Middleton or Audrey Hepburn...
"My favorite bride would have to be my mother. She married at the age of 26, which was late for her generation, and she was a working woman. She paid over $2,000 for a custom lace gown in 1956. That was a huge expense at that time, and for such a classic fashion moment. What an inspiration!"