During Bridal Week the Daalarna management travelled to New York to launch the WHISPER collection, whose special feeling and exceptional material brought a really fresh and new line to the exhibition. Daalarna designer Anita Benes, and sales and marketing manager Viktória Somlói share their thoughts and experiences with Secret Stories.
How was the One Fine Day Bridal Market this year?
Anita: The exhibition was organized in the exhibition area of a beautiful loft, with a view to the streets of New York. Every day spent there was an experience. The organizers group the designers, who typically come from Australia, deliberately and according to very strict conditions, on the basis of their target group. Our style is close to nature, and suggests a free life feeling very similar to the Australians so we were very glad to join the exhibition for a second time. Bridal Week is on in the same week, and so many good shows are on in different events. Tradesfolk, buyers and wedding salon owners are all racing through the city at this time. The cream of the wedding dress profession gathers here in fact, and apart from getting new clients, this week is all about getting to know new trends and directions.
This trip wasn’t just special to you because of the exhibition, but you took part in The Knot magazine gala, where you could support a very important cause too.
Anita: The gala is organized by The Knot wedding magazine, and the guests are representatives of the trade. It was interesting to have an insight into how such an enormous gala is organized so professionally. The event was housed in the New York Public Library, which made the incredibly decorated, thematically styled event even more impressive. Fantastic musicians, singers and performers set the atmosphere, and of course there were all kinds of delicious finger food for example Asian, French and American, served with Moët champagne. It was both interesting and exciting to step into this world. Of more importance however, is the aim of this evening for which the magazine and we the participants joined forces. The Knot magazine asked us to support a worthy cause, whose goal is to put an end to child marriages. For me as a mother of three, it is close to my heart to support causes connected to children, that is why I work with UNICEF, and the Magic Lamp Foundation with their charity markets. I think it very important to use one’s connections and possibilities to join such initiatives.
In the wedding trade we only meet people for whom this is a happy period of their lives. It is terrible to realize that for others the wedding and marriage is a torment, an inescapable tie in their lives. I am very glad that we were able to help a little to fight back on this evening.
The newest collection WHISPER was on show at the exhibition. What kind of feedback did you get, how was the collection received by the audience there?
Anita: The editors and editors-in-chief of the biggest and best wedding magazines took part in the presentations at the exhibition, where two gorgeous models Nelli Tombor and Kata Kondás modelled our newest dresses. We received very positive feedback, for me personally it was very encouraging that they emphasized how fresh and forward looking the collection was. It was also good to see that we can bring something new beside the usual lines and materials.
They adored the three dimensional models, and enjoyed the fact that we didn’t create a classical romantic atmosphere in the collection, but something quite unique. It is interesting that this is exactly what I was most afraid of, how they would accept something coming from a completely different world than they were used to, not such a conventional theme. Despite my fears, that is exactly what everyone liked, the Australians even commented jokingly that finally they didn’t see a beach style everywhere. And in reality maybe it is true that for us, here in Hungary those surroundings are interesting and special, because they are not part of our everyday, but for many other nations they are. Another very positive feedback was that both the Americans and Australians, just like the European and Asian clients found dresses in the collection which appealed to them. However it was interesting to note how little overlap there was in the sets, it is very rare that it can be so sharply separated as to what is the bestseller in a given area is because everyone likes something else. Különös volt viszont, hogy mennyire pici volt ezekben a halmazokban az átfedés, nagyon ritkán lehet ennyire élesen elkülöníteni, hogy mi a bestseller egy adott területen, mert mindenkinek más tetszett.
Opinions may differ because of the different backgrounds and tastes. What is your experience, what are the main trends which separate the customers requirements? How can you meet the expectations?
Viki: It is always a big surprise for us how different the wedding dress tastes are between America and Europe, or let’s say Australia. Fortunately in the last few years since we entered the foreign market we have got to know the wedding customs of certain countries, and the factors which influence the basis on which women from a certain country choose a wedding dress. At the planning stage Anita pays a lot of attention to which lines, forms and materials are preferred in which countries, and that is why she always aspires to create variety within the collection.
In America for example the mermaid shape with a V cut in front is always very popular even in plus size. The ladies are much more self-confident there than in Europe. In Australia soft flowing, light A-line or wide skirted dresses are chosen which are much more comfortable in the warm and humid climate.
It is interesting that the new WHISPER collection with dresses decorated with laser cut and three dimensional floral and leaf motifs were most warmly welcomed by the European and Australian tradespeople. Buyers from Paris, London and Melbourne were enchanted by the fresh and modern collection, by how much it stood out from the more traditional wedding dresses, which was a great plus for for the brand. The American partners however rather preferred those models which are guaranteed to sell well, and less daring regarding cut and materials.
Which were the most favoured pieces this year, which caught the most attention?
Viki: The complete WHISPER collection received very good feedback in general from both the buyers and the press. This year a great number of journalists and bloggers showed interest in the collection: representatives of the biggest American wedding magazines (BRIDES, The Knot, Inside Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings), well-known bloggers, and influencers visited us during the Bridal Week, each one making complimentary remarks about the dresses. The press of course jumped on the most special dresses, and immediately asked to borrow some for a fashion shoot.
The three dimension floral dresses, the models decorated with tiny leaf applique, the embroidered and pearl lacy dresses were among the favourites of our current partner salons, and potential new clients also:
Anita: The interest of the press is always different than that of the brides’. I have noticed that, regardless of which continent we are on, innovative things always need a little time for the customers to accept and get used to. Few people are brave enough to be the first to choose unusual and daring things, but fortunately the the trades-folk and partners were very open to our innovations. I think that is probably why they like Daalarna because they are looking for something different and unique.If I have learned anything in the last six exhibitions then it is that you must not always be a trend follower, but to dare to be yourself, and to show a world which may be strange at first sight to others. There is room for everything, and many people will become curious about you because they want to know what you are, and what you can show that is different to the others. Of course there are trends which we also have to adapt to, but it is very important to smuggle something unique into each of our dresses.
Which were the main trends that you also concentrated on this year? What style of wedding dress will be represented in 2019?
Anita: The three dimensional laces and muslims represent a great departure this year, but of course the evergreen classics will still be available, I think in general we can say that a wedding dress is unimaginable without lace and tulle. A more daring choice of materials will appear though, and special new solutions like for example capes and hoods will make an appearance on the wedding world. I have a favourite saying, “Who wants to wear a veil if you can be Superman instead?” This is a little deviation from the classical bride’s veil and accessories, and allows us to smuggle in a new level on the wedding look.
If someone prefers the classic lines the accessories provide the opportunity to play a little. This is one of my favourite trends that I would like to deal with more in the future.
Apart from the exhibition, do you have a little free time to relax? Can you find time to visit a favourite spot?
Viki: This year the exhibition lasts an extra day compared to earlier years, so including the building of the stand we work for five days in New York. We left two extra days for sightseeing and relaxing, so there are a couple of favourite places I would like to go this year too: Bryant Park and the High Line, and my favourite bakery, Magnolia Bakery. If you are looking for a class breakfast place then I recommend the Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen named place in Manhattan, on Madison Avenue.
Check out the complete WHISPER collection on the Daalarna website!