New York Bridal Market is a busy, stressful, and exciting time for everyone in the bridal fashion industry—designers, retailers, and press, but perhaps most of all, for newbie designers presenting their debut collections. We talked to Efran Lebron Arroyo (inset), an Atlanta-based designer who is preparing to show his first bridal line, E. Lebron, at Pier 94 in New York this weekend.
What is your design background and why have you chosen to focus on bridal fashion?
I was pretty artsy growing up, and when I graduated high school, I tried photography, painting, and sculpting, and then decided on fashion. I didn't like bridal at first, and went more toward eveningwear until a classmate of mine helped me get a job at a bridal salon here in Atlanta. After a few years, I really fell in love with bridal. I loved working with brides, and still love the one-on-one connection that you get when putting together their whole look.
What does launching a bridal line involve exactly?
When I left the bridal salon and decided to focus on designing wedding gowns, I needed to figure out if I should open a small boutique or create a line to show at market. After trying to figure out my budget and all the logistics and speaking to a bunch of my designer friends, I decided to launch my own collection at the April bridal market in New York and jumped right into designing my eight-piece collection, which includes five floor-length gowns and three short dresses.
I have a very small team: just me, my friend Mary, and a patternmaker. It's so important to stir up interest in a new collection, so Mary and I called over 200 bridal retailers to see if there were interested in coming to my booth at the Piers. I also reached out via Twitter and Facebook. It's been only three months since I started designing the collection, so it's been busy, but a lot of fun.
Who do you envision responding to, and eventually wearing your wedding gowns?
I'm designing gowns for a modern bride who has that 'Anthropologie look'—young, healthy, organic.
What is your primary source of inspiration?
I don't have an inspiration board or anything, but I'm really inspired by music. All of the layers of sound in 1940s blues and jazz match the layers of fabric in my collection, like when I layer organza over lace. I want the collection to have lots of texture and dimension.
As you prepare for your first bridal market, what challenges have you faced?
I ripped apart my entire collection the other day. There were a couple of issues during a fitting, so I sat down with my patternmaker to try to improve them. Everything was in pieces but that just adds to the craziness, which I love. I'm nervous about how people will react to the collection, but I'm not worried about completing it in time. I'm so excited to show my dresses to the world, I can't wait.
Visit E. Lebron's website for more information on his collection, and check back during bridal market to find out how his collection is received. Don't forget to visit our dress gallery for more gown inspiration. —Kim Forrest