Dreamy, feminine and frothy — the new bridal line Isabelle Armstrong has landed in Houston and Casa de Novia's Luvi Wheelock is the lucky retailer to land the couture collection that launched in October. To celebrate the arrival of the gowns in her River Oaks boutique, Wheelock threw open the doors for a champagne reception benefiting the Bayou Herons, the young professional leg of the Bayou Preservation Association.
On hand to greet guests and talk about the line were Isabelle Armstrong president Tara Nattini and designer Johanna Kraft. Casa de Novia has the exclusive in Houston and the New York-based line will be carried by Bergdorf Goodman and Hudson's Bay stores in Canada and a few smaller bridal salons around the country.
"We want to be very exclusive," Nattini said of the small distribution. "We don't want to become over-saturated."
"People do so many different things with weddings that there is always a need for another dress."
She explained that the Isabelle Armstrong team is comprised of individuals with "years of experience" in the bridal field, who employ that expertise in the creation of their gowns.
"Our dresses are dreamy, ethereal but we're still strong. We're the girl who wants to be fashion forward, but she's still a bride," Nattini said. "She wants to be romantic. She has that ultimate vision of what she's always imagined for her gown . . .
"From working with brides for many years now, we've incorporated all those needs and wants that we've heard from them and that's what we're using for the focal point of our collection as we design."
The collection includes long and short dresses as well as evening wear, which was being shown for the first time in Houston. Nattini explained, "People do so many different things with weddings that there is always a need for another dress." Case in point, the trend today for brides to change from their wedding gown into a second white dress for the reception.
Short or long, bridal or evening, Nattini said that the designs "are influenced by fashion and art and music that allows us to create that emotion that we are striving for . . . Every gown is really its own piece of art." No bridezillas here, think princess bride when imagining these romantic gowns.
Of the design process, Kraft said, "It all starts with the fabric. Think of this idea of the juxtaposition of this really feminine but strong woman. Our designs marry that for that modern girl who has the balance of both. Starting with the fabric, we keep in mind that harmonious feeling that we are trying to create, working organically with that, letting the fabric lead our group of artists, the designers, pattern makers, drapers."
Price points on the collection range from $3,000 to $12,000.