When you hear the word style, you may immediately think about fashion, but here at Brides, we believe that individual style goes beyond someone's outward appearance. Think about it: When you're talking about a day as big as your wedding, style isn't strictly what you choose to wear down the aisle; instead, it encompasses everything from the planning process to the design of your related wedding events and so much more.
For our latest digital issue, we wanted to capture the essence of what it meant to be stylish both inside and out, in front of the camera and behind the scenes. As you’ll see throughout the images captured for our cover story, Gabourey Sidibe is the epitome of confidence, elegance, and grace. She effortlessly stands out and owns each look—looks that were expertly crafted and put together by the most talented and well-respected industry professionals.
From her stylist to the designers who custom-created her gowns, the "style" for this issue was curated in the best way possible, and it was only right that we spotlight the team who helped make it all happen. Ahead, please meet our incredible team and learn about their thoughts on personal style.
Kelly Augustine started her career as a stylist after wanting a professional refresh. "I began my career as a stylist in late-2020. I’d been working in content creation and fashion marketing for almost a decade and was looking for fresh energy. An opportunity to style for a client came up in October 2020 and I just kept going!" shares Augustine. Two years later, Kelly has officially become a go-to stylist for celebrities like Danielle Brooks, Liesl Tommy, Robyn Lawley, and our cover star Gabourey Sidibe.
Personal style is the outward expression of the embodiment of someone’s feelings.
When it comes to style, Augustine is clear that what we wear is a direct reflection of how we feel. "Personal style is the outward expression of the embodiment of someone’s feelings. However someone is feeling almost always reflects through their wardrobe," she reveals. We couldn't agree more. For any occasion, but especially a wedding, it's important to always look and feel your best—a concept Kelly focuses on with every client she works with. "My number one goal is to make sure my clients feel good in the clothes I put them in, regardless of the cost or brand name."
Thanks to Augustine's inclusive work philosophy, we were able to feature pieces by designers who brought out the best of Sidibe's personal style.
Andrea Pitter, founder and designer of Pantora Bridal, says the idea for her business first began on her Brooklyn stoop when she was 12, but it wasn't until she was in college she started to set the wheels in motion. "Pantora Bridal started off small and unexpected. I took my first commissioned wedding dress order as a sophomore in college. I started on Etsy!" she says. "Someone ordered a white cotton dress from me, and a few weeks after receiving [the dress], sent me the wedding photos. I was in awe of being a part of someone’s love story." As fate would have it, one Etsy purchase began the start of a truly successful bridal label.
It’s important to see yourself in all spaces. Relatability is important. The pathway to acknowledgment is visibility.
Similar to Augustine, Pitter believes that style transcends fashion. She shares that what we wear is fueled by our feelings, and her goal when designing is to create looks that only produce the most positive of emotions. "Style is personal and I think it’s pushed by how one feels and wants to present themselves to the world," Pitter explains. "My goal when designing for women is simply for them to feel seen. My thought process when designing is: What do they wear when they are taking up space or desire to take up space? It’s important to see yourself in all spaces. Relatability is important. The pathway to acknowledgment is visibility."
From the diverse selection of styles to the wide range of size offerings, it's no wonder why Pantora Bridal has become widely successful around the world.
In the feature: Gabourey Sidibe wears a remarkable white mermaid Pantora Bridal gown.
What happens when you take a chance on your dreams and pivot from the structured plans you once had for your life? Oyemwen Oriakhi, founder and designer of Oyemwen, is the perfect example. A former biology major and medical school candidate, Oriakhi chose to completely redirect her life plans and cultivate a career that brought her the most joy.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would pursue an artistic career. I planned to attend medical school after getting my B.S. in biology from Georgia State University, so I only ever admired people who had careers in the artistic field," shares the designer. "However, when my path started to deviate from my original plan, and I started to lean into my passion for fashion as a potential career choice, I am grateful that I didn’t fight it. I started in the fashion industry as a stylist and soon transitioned into a self-taught fashion designer."
Personal style is the opportunity to show your personality through what you wear.
Oriakhi notes that personal style is an inward reflection of someone's character. "[It] is the opportunity to show your personality through what you wear. Being able to express your authentic and unique voice allows you to feel the most comfortable and confident in what you wear," she reveals. She also says that when she's creating a custom look for any of her clients, her goal is to ensure that each piece brings a sense of happiness no matter the occasion. As for her overall brand, Oriakhi strives to design garments that can be worn on all body types.
In the feature: Gabourey Sidibe wears a beautiful yellow tiered ruffled Oyemwen custom gown.
For Jenine Nerecina, founder and designer of Nerecina Couture, starting her brand was a lifelong pursuit she fulfilled a few years ago. Born in the Philippines, the designer first learned how to sew at age seven by creating garments for her dolls; she later used her skills to build a career as a tailor and designer.
"After graduating high school, I went to college to study fashion design in Los Angeles. Once I graduated college, I showcased my designs at fashion weeks and also started working as a celebrity tailor. My experience as a celebrity tailor is what inspired me to build a size-inclusive brand," shares Nerecina. "I realized that the fashion industry does not cater to larger sizes. There are fewer options available to plus-size people, especially bridal and formalwear. In 2018, I started Nerecina because I want every woman to look and feel beautiful regardless of her size."
Personal style means wearing whatever you want regardless of what people think or what’s on-trend.
Today, Nerecina Couture is an occasionwear destination for women of all aesthetics and sizes. "My goal is to create size-inclusive bridal and formalwear that is luxurious, customizable, and ethically made without worrying about size tags. I believe in designing clothes that fit your body, while most brands expect your body to fit their clothes," she tells Brides.
As for personal style, her views are directly aligned with the Nerecina Couture brand ethos: individualism. "Personal style means wearing whatever you want regardless of what people think or what’s on-trend. I don’t follow trends because it is not ethical or sustainable. Fast fashion makes people constantly feel like they always have to buy something new when in reality, it’s better to focus on a good quality capsule wardrobe and a few statement pieces," says the designer.
In the feature: Gabourey Sidibe dazzles in a white feather-embellished mini dress custom created by Nerecina Couture.
Meet the Tailor: Talla
Talla is a celebrity tailor who's able to craft almost any look by simply referencing a photo or an idea. Beginning his career with his family, Talla slowly grew his business, in both Europe and the U.S., and has been successfully servicing clients for almost 25 years.
What separates his tailoring company from others is that he operates strictly by word of mouth (yes, you read that right!). "I don't do the typical fashion shows, formal advertising, none of that. The people I work with are the ones who advertise for me. Word of mouth. It's a better guarantee of clients that way," he reveals.
And when it comes to creating looks based on a client's vision and personal style, Talla believes that "what the client wants, the client gets." He shares that everyone's personal style is subjective, and it's up to the individual to define what they like and want to wear.
In the feature: Gabourey Sidibe wears a purple Ankara mermaid gown, custom created by Talla.