So much of a bride’s journey to her wedding day has a focus on that one elusive bridal gown. I am always so fascinated to learn about the life, inspiration and passion of a wedding gown designer and Pina Fiorenza with her label Fiorenza is one of those designers I’d love to meet over a glass of wine to hear her stories. Today I’m honoured to have her join us on Polka Dot Wisdom to share a few of them with us!

Tell me a little about yourself? Was there someone in your life who was especially influential in you starting on your design path?

As a young woman you never listen to your mother, and I was no exception. She begged my sister and I not to go into fashion; as a fourth generation designer she wanted us to do something different. But deep down she knew it was too ingrained in us; we both grew up to be designers. As a young girl, I was inspired by my dad’s sister – who founded the first fashion college in my ancestral region in Italy – she was such an innovator, while my mother’s perfectionist pursuit of the ultimate look also inspired my passion as a child. Even now, four years after she passed away, it continues to drive me to perfect every collection.

What was the catalyst for starting a bridal and evening gown business?

Bridal wear was not my primary passion; fashion was. There’s no gown more symbolic, more powerful or poignant, than the matrimonial gown, so I infused by love of fashion with my reverence for what the bridal gown represents.

What is the ‘design philosophy’ for your business?

Reflecting over the past two decades, the underpinning philosophy has always been the pursuit of perfection; the constant evolution with each gown that draws upon the fashion eras that came before me, constantly improving and building upon those founding principles to improve the label. My style is founded upon the principles of tailoring; even if something is pretty, it has to have a concept that makes sense. I cannot tolerate having fabric for the sake of having fabric; it all has to make the woman look her best.

Do you have a signature ‘style’? If so, how would you describe your ‘style’?

I’d describe it as ‘global glamour’. Interlaced with a sense of luxury, each gown has vintage references with a contemporary twist. Marked by lush fabrics, flawless construction and elegant embellishments, the style is also infused with European couture design principles.

Your gowns have a luxurious textured feel with draping, beading, beautiful fabrics used in interesting ways. When sketching your designs, what is it that most inspires you initially?

I travel the world for inspiration, I look back at what has been done in the past by the masters of fashion (after studying the likes of Dior, Balenciaga and Chanel for 40 years, I am still discovering inspiration from their lessons) and I interact with over 500 brides, hearing their thoughts and desires at designer days around Australia each year. In quiet moments when I sit to sketch, these inspirations culminate in the gowns I create. And that’s just the start…

How do you decide on the colours and designs for your gowns for each collection?

Each collection for me has a story with the story it comes the era, with the era, colour plays a part. Style and colour must go together, I don’t like colour without purpose.

How do you keep your ideas fresh and different each season?

I am open minded; I travel to source the best from around the world, I talk to hundreds of brides in stores around Australia and I look at what has been done, and what can be done better. I then get feedback from the people I work with, and apply a huge filter based upon what I know the core of my label to be.

There are a lot of lonely moments, a lot of thought and each gown in a true labour of love. Which is why I struggle with the concept of people pressing a button to buy a dress online. Each gown should be a story, hand designed and crafted to perfection, not the fabric equivalent of fast food.

How many collections do you design each year?

I do two collections a year, with infusion collections of award gowns, couture runway designs and special red carpet gowns for my celebrity clients.

What sets you apart from others?

It’s not something I have ever needed to be conscious of; I had been designing for many years and realised that people perceived the label as something quite apart from the other cookie-cutter styles out there. My mother always used to say that you don’t have to do what people say, but always find the time to stop and listen for a minute to what they have to say.  There’s always something to learn. Look closely at each collection and you’ll see something that has never been done before.

What do you dream for your business in three years time?

After so many years, I still dream about the future of the label. I want to improve and evolve each year; that is our legacy and it doesn’t stop until God says so.

You are stocked in most States of Australia, as well as in Auckland, New Zealand. Tomorrow, the world?

I have never wanted the world, Australia is where my heart is; where by brides are. Local acclaim – amongst the people I know and the people I design for  – has always meant more than any international recognition I have received. Australia is the world enough.   

Do you see any trends in the bridal industry, in the next 12 months?

Yes yes yes. And I think everyone will be surprised.

What are your favourite wedding ideas?

I love weddings that make it an all-day affair. Fill in that hungry, listless space of time between the ceremony and reception with coffee and cakes. The best wedding ideas are often the simplest, most basic principles of good party hosting.

Five things a bride should consider when choosing their wedding dress?

  1. Where are you getting married? The setting should suit the dress; a cathedral wedding with a bias cut gown? Not a good idea.
  2. Set out with an idea of what you like and don’t like, but be willing to try on different styles. You want to find the right gown for your body and personal style, and you might be surprised – it’s not always the one that you tore out of the magazine.
  3. Don’t sacrifice comfort for beauty. A cleverly made gown should give you an incredible sense of well-concealed support without feeling uncomfortable.
  4. Choose a boutique with staff who understand your body shape, and select a gown that accentuates, flatters and conceals where desired!
  5. Wear your gown with pride; bathe in your glory. Unless you bought online.

Thank you for joining us today Pina! Find out more about the Fiorenza label and where you can buy it by visiting the Fiorenza website.