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Vendor Interview: Michelle Gertzman

Bespoke gown designer makes her mark

Chicago’s best couture wedding dress designer just blew in from the Windy City, and she’s generating a whirlwind of her own in SoCal with her custom-designed dresses. An artful designer, Michelle Gertzman of Michelle Rahn Bridal has joined forces with The Bridal Bar in L.A. to create the ultimate personalized gown experience and rekindle the art of trousseau.


What makes you different from other designers?
I strive to create an experience that’s anything but cookie-cutter. But to create a couture look and one-of-a-kind dress is very expensive and not an option for most people. We offer a new way to personalize a gown.

How so?
Almost a decade in, I’ve learned to listen to the bride and understand her style and needs, so I can offer suggestions to add an element of uniqueness to her dress. Brides can choose from my collection, opt for pure couture, or mix and match to create her dream dress. This is the way it used to be done in the 30s and 40s in Europe.

Describe the process:
We start by finding a flattering silhouette and the right cut for the body. Then we  choose fabric, different beading, and finishing details. We want the bride to have a hands-on experience. It’s not just coming in, finding a dress on a rack, placing the order, not seeing the dress for six months, and then going off to alterations.

What do brides love about it?
The experience of buying a wedding dress has been so watered down. Our interaction creates memories as brides come back for several appointments and have a creative say in the design. They often come with their mom or best friend—these appointments become a ritual.

most exciting embellishments these days?
My crystal beaded and  embroidered belts are inspired by vintage jewelry, yet finished with a modern twist.

How did you get on this path?
I knew I wanted to do fashion since I was eight years old. I’d sketch sitting on my parents’ steps. Getting into FIT was the start of my dreams becoming real.

Bravest thing you have ever done?
I moved to Italy not knowing anyone or the language to study fashion design.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Lagerfeld, and Tom Ford are my top four. Also Coco Chanel for what she stood for, for breaking down barriers, and inspiring woman of her era.

—Ann Wycoff

Kiss and Tell

  • Three words to describe you? Humorous, personable, laid back
  • If I were not a wedding dress designer I’d be… coding and developing software
  • Flats or heels? Heels
  • Updo or hair down? Hair down
  • Favorite vacation spot? Italian Riviera
  • Something you collect? Mirrors from the different countries I visit
  • Favorite Food? Fried chicken
  • Martini or margarita? Tequila on the rocks, splash of pineapple

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