For this my first post as Fashion Editor at CJDellatore.com, I’ve chosen to talk about Elizabeth Fillmore of Elizabeth Fillmore Bridal, a woman whose lifestyle and design aesthetics are clearly aligned. She lives and works between 2 loft spaces in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood with her husband/business partner Tommy Allen, their 5-year-old son Oliver, and the family dog Zoe. After visiting with her I’ve concluded her designs are simply stunning works of art. She helped me to understand why her gowns are unlike traditional bridal designs this week when we sat down for coffee. It was an enlightening Q&A.
You were an evening wear designer prior to opening your bridal atelier, what made you want to transition into bridal, and will you ever go back to designing evening ?
I had established my ‘ready to wear’ and evening collections, then in 1998 I was asked by the fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue to do one of my soft bias-cut gowns in ivory for bridal. It happened so organically – and now it’s all I do. Now we only do evening for private clients when asked.
What do you see as the biggest difference between ‘ready to wear’ and bridal?
The amount of meaning and emotion behind every dress. It’s so wonderful knowing a bride has chosen one of my pieces to wear on one of the most important days of her life.
What influences and inspires your designs?
I’m influenced by everything around me – film, art, interiors and runway couture. It’s never just one thing. It is very much about the extraordinary fabrics I seek out and the delicate trims.
Last season I was inspired by the lush ponds and woods where I grew up, and all the swarming butterflies & insects. I worked with one of my Italian mills to create an embroidered “butterfly” fabric and a beaded motif. They were very important in my collection.
After reviewing your past collections, I’ve observed that your dresses do not look like your typical ‘fluffy-puffy’ bridal gowns. What sets your dresses apart from other bridal houses?
I really have defined my niche in the designer bridal market as being ‘soft’. There are so many full ball gowns in the market – but very few can do slinky, bias cut dresses well. I design what I love and would want to wear. My focus is a slim, sophisticated silhouette, from the ‘Glamour Gown’ to the bohemian “Earth Angel”.
If you could design a bridal dress for 2 women, one present and one past , who would they be, and why?
I’d love to design a dress for Keira Knightley. She is such a talent – a brooding, dark poetic beauty that I would love to create a wildly romantic, sleek gown for.
And as for a woman in history, I’d pick Marie Antoinette. She is still one of my biggest historical influences.
Who are the ‘go-to’ bridal accessory designers who best fit with the Elizabeth Fillmore bride?
For shoes it’s an easy answer. Jimmy Choo. I must say that for veils I’d pick Tia Mazza; and for a more romantic feeling the handmade flourishes and head pieces made exclusively for EFB by Ksenia Golub.
When it comes to jewelry I like anything vintage – keepsake pieces – lockets on long chains. We also offer exclusive pieces by Meridith Griffin through our atelier. And finally, for lingerie Commando has the best nude thongs for under my bias sheathes.
Elizabeth Fillmore at work
A warm thanks to Elizabeth for allowing me a glimpse into her world. Her dresses can be found at the best bridal boutiques around the globe, the owners of which rave about her designs. Gabriella Risatti of Gabriella New York Bridal Salon says;
“Elizabeth Fillmore gowns are elegant and sophisticated. They always have a whimsical element that gives them a romantic, feminine feel.”
I couldn’t have said it better if I tried. Follow the link below for a list of stores and availability.