Forget raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. If this girl had to list her favorite things, she would include wedding gowns, tulle skirts, and pretty much every episode of Sex and the City.
Needless to say, when I heard the news that a brand new ballet-inspired wedding gown collection was being launched by brand creator Martha Flemming and designer Mark Agnes (an Emmy Award winning costume designer for Sex and the City), I seriously thought I was dreaming! I was lucky enough to chat with Martha and Mark about their exciting new venture, pas de deux bridal.
Who came up with the idea to start pas de deux bridal? Was the intention to fill a void in the current bridal market? If so, what unique twist does your line offer?
Martha: I am the original creator of the brand, name and inspiration. Since I have an extensive retail background that has kept me in the forefront of women’s fashion, trends, and nuances, this was the motivation for me to create a bridal line that resonated with a bride that wanted her dress to be unique, feminine and as special as a dancer in the spotlight. I love the ballet and feel that the ballet has strong romantic overtures; it is the best inspiration for a wedding dress line. The name, pas de deux bridal is French and means dance for two bridal. The official language of the ballet is French, hence the reference to the ballet language.
Popular culture has embraced dance with multiple television shows featuring all kinds of dance, along with the extensive list of wedding dress shows demonstrates the interest in two key areas that is now mainstream. All of these factors played a role in the area of creating a new wedding dress line. While searching for someone that would be able to translate my love of the ballet into beautiful and special wedding dresses I was introduced to Mark Agnes by a mutual friend.
Mark: Martha is actually the one who came up with the idea to have a ballet-inspired bridal line. She brought it to me, and because I am huge ballet fan, I thought that it would be an interesting idea to pursue. I have done so much custom bridal… I visualized the line as a collection of separates. Every time a bride came in for a consultation on her dress, she liked the top from one dress and the skirt from the other. So, I thought… gee what about a line that has multiple pieces that can be mixed and matched so that a bride can create her own look to meet the specific needs of her day? And we decided to price the pieces to allow the bride to purchase pieces that would take her from the church to the reception without breaking the bank.
Mark: I find ballet to be both graceful and strong. For a ballerina to be able to dance on her toes is a feat of sheer strength, but it is very romantic and the stories are usually based on romantic legends or fairy tales. So the collection tries to take in all of those aspects.
I have to ask, Mark. Did your work on Sex and the City inspire any of the designs, details, or looks included in this collection of wedding gowns?
Mark: My work on SATC made me aware of how important it is for women to have choices and be able to express their individuality. And Carrie did have a penchant for tulle and full skirts! So…
Are brides responding well to this unique look so far? Is there a “typical” pas de deux bride? Who is she?
Martha: We have just launched (during The Knot’s Couture Show). The response to the line is especially positive as there are many non dancers and dancers that love the aesthetic! Our most popular look during the show was our short tulle skirt (Mark has named all of the styles) inspired by Degas and his paintings of ballet dancers, hence the short tulle skirt is named Degas.
Our typical bride is looking for a unique wedding dress that offers an individualized option (mixing the separates to create her own look), most likely a first time bride looking for the fairy tale wedding, likes brand names in her apparel selections but does not limit herself to “designers,” shops in large chain stores and likes fast fashion, looks for quality, and on her wedding day wants to have her princess moment. We also strike a chord with dancers! They like the tulle skirts and the nod to the inspiration of the ballet. Our customer, whether she still dances or not, loves the inspiration of our collection.
Mark: It’s interesting that we have had a great response from brides who were or still are dancers. I think it is the classic, romantic aspect that appeals so much to them. Martha’s theory is that women of a certain age (young) want to express their individuality, and therefore the collection works very well for them. And while I agree, I also think that the way the collection is structured really gives women the ability to make choices for themselves that buying a designer-completed look doesn’t give them.
Are you excited about your connection to the charity Wish Upon a Wedding?
Martha: Since I have a strong background in fundraising, philanthropy is a large part of my DNA. When we started pas de deux bridal we decided to partner with a non profit that would be in keeping with our customer profile. After much research, we found Wish Upon A Wedding and were touched by their mission to provide brides and grooms the wedding of their dreams. These couples have compelling stories of courage, strength and purpose, all of which resonate with us. We have offered to provide a wedding gown to a bride. While they have not had the need for our gown to this point, they have reached out to us to keep us informed that when a bride needs a gown, we will be asked to contribute. There is now a NYC chapter of Wish Upon A Wedding and last Valentine’s Day we made a small contribution so they were able to deliver homemade heart-shaped cookies to business and personal contacts for the organization to gain recognition in NYC.
Why is charity important to your company?
Martha: There are several reasons we believe charity is vital to our company, or any other for that matter. It is a reminder that we have a forum to help those in need and are able, through our social media outlets, to spread the word of their needs. There are many non-profit organizations that do so many wonderful things that as a company, we can provide the opportunity to introduce them to new people, gain their interest in the non-profits’ mission enough to contribute and/or pass the word along. I have found that people are very generous and want to give, they just need to be enlightened to the fact that there is a charity that suits them. A company provides a forum for this information.
I have always had an affinity for the arts and was V.P. of Programs for the Greenwich Arts Council for seven years. I started public programs that are in place to this day along with several fundraising projects still used by the GAC.
There are several non profit organizations that are near and dear to my heart in addition to Wish Upon A Wedding. They include New York Botanical Garden (a spectacularly public beautiful park and garden with the most amazing programs easily accessed by New York and suburbs) and The Promise Project (a NYC non profit that helps diagnose inner city children with learning disabilities and secure the support they need to succeed).
Thank you for chatting with me, Martha and Mark! I LOVE what I see, and I am sure Miss A.’s readers will also adore your new collection.