'Say Yes to the Dress': Randy Fenoli on Poufy Princess Dresses and the Sleeve Thing

Today's cuppa: Tetley British Blend tea

Recently, I had to do a lot of research for a syndicated feature story on TLC's coverage of the upcoming royal wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton, scheduled for the morning of Friday, April 29.

I had done royal weddings before, having gotten up with the rest of the East Coast to watch Diana_and_Charles_wedding.jpg Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer tie the knot in July, 1981. (As I'm now on the West Coast, I'll let the DVR do the work for this one).

Also, I had to watch TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" because of interviewing Randy Fenoli, a wedding-dress designer and consultant who works at Kleinfeld Bridal, the New York City bridal salon featured in the show.

The world of high-end bridal fashion is a new area for me, and I did find myself yelling at the television because mothers who really need to go on TLC's "What Not to Wear" or get some therapy were making life miserable for their poor daughters.

On the other hand, some of the brides, while not exactly "Bridezillas," were no tiptoe through the tulips either.

Then I trolled the Internet to look at the collections of the British bridal designers Fenoli mentioned, and was treated to an array of dresses that ranged from heartbreakingly gorgeous to, yeah, only if I was marrying the King of the Universe, and he paid me extra to wear that (and there were NO pictures).

So, here's a bit of my conversation with Fenoli about Diana's princess dress, the sleeve issue, and how he thinks all brides can be beautiful.

On Diana's dress (pictured above):


Yes, it was very poufy. It was very '80s; it was very over the top. That's what was happening right then. She was much younger than Kate is ... I find that more youthful girls go with poufier dresses, and the more mature the woman, they go for a little sleeker, more understated look, generally speaking. Princess Diana was so beautiful, but her dress overpowered her.

On why the dress looked like crumpled Kleenex when she came out of the carriage:

That's also because it was made of a silk taffeta, which does wrinkle fairly easily. Satin holds up a little better, silk satin. Lace, of course, is really great if you're worried about wrinkles.


On why so many bridal gowns are sleeveless or even strapless:


Let me tell you why. First of all, a wedding gown is one of the most fitted garments you'll ever wear. And when you have a fitted garment, and you have a fitted sleeve, it really restricts your movement. Girls today want to throw up their bouquets; they want to throw their arms up and dance at their wedding. They don't want to be restricted.

Randy_Fenoli_Say_Yes_to_the_Dress.JPG I have so many girls come in, and they say, "I want a sleeve," and then they try one on, and they realize that they're not really able to raise their arms much higher than their shoulders. Then they opt for a strapless dress.

When you look at a strapless dress, it's just such a clean, beautiful look. It shows off a woman's collarbone; it lengthens her neck; it really highlights her face and just opens her up visually.


On compromising by adding a shrug or a bolero jacket to a strapless dress:


For me, I absolutely would recommend a bolero or a shrug, because that's going to allow you the coverage, and it's going to allow you movement, just like a man's jacket gives him movement, because it's not attached all the way down. It's not so fitted at the waist that you can't raise your arms.

On why the bride and Fenoli often see two very different images in the mirror:


It's interesting how they see themselves, and how we see them as outsiders. Sometimes, it's very difficult for me, because no matter what I see on the outside, I have to step away sometimes, because how a woman sees herself in the mirror, I can't control that.

Almost every single human being has some kind of body-image issues that they're trying to overcome or deal with or manage. They may think their hips are wide, and I'm thinking, "OK, I see no hips." Or they think they have broad shoulders, and I'm like, "I don't know what they're talking about."

It's amazing, body dysmorphic disorder. It absolutely is widespread. The magazines today, all the models are super skinny, and they're airbrushed to be even skinner.


On what Fenoli plans to do about that in the bridal realm:


I just finished writing my book, entitled, "It's All About the Dress." It's published by Hachette, and it's going to be out on the bookstands on Nov. 1. I did not use any models in my book. I used only real brides, from size 2 to size 22, and ages in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. I wanted to show women that you can look like a model at any size, at any age.

Wait until this book comes out. It's going to change, I hope, people's perception of beauty, because there's beauty in every bride, and I show it. It's right there in front of you. I'm so excited. I just have the acknowledgement page to write, and we're basically done.


On why you will never know what a dress -- or most any piece of clothing -- will look like on you unless you put in on you:

You must try it on, because every single body is different, and every single dress is cut different. You never know until you try that dress on, what it's going to look like.