Growing up in Ethiopia, I never thought I would end up in fashion, let alone a couture bridal designer. But as I was planning my wedding in 1985, and every dress was an over-the-top '80s creation, I found myself designing my own gown -- something simple and elegant. I thought, there must be other women like me, women who want something sophisticated and "forever modern" to wear on their wedding day, something they could look back on 20 years from now and still love. And so I started designing gowns. Today, I am the designer behind the Amsale, Christos, and Kenneth Pool bridal collections, and I am fortunate to have a salon on Madison Avenue and for my gowns to be sold across the U.S. and throughout Europe and Asia.
It didn't happen overnight, of course. But after years of hard work and many challenges, I'm one of the lucky few who can honestly say that every day, I wake up and I do what I love. To see a beaming bride walk down the aisle in one of my designs -- it's hard to describe this feeling. It's my job to make a woman look her best on her wedding day, and I consider that an honor. These are photos that she'll look back on forever, after all!
I've learned so much -- not just about wedding gowns, but about brides and the wedding process itself -- along the way. My experiences have truly been an education, and people always want to know the inside story. What did I think of Kate Middleton's wedding gown? (So classic, she was such a beautiful bride). What was it like designing the gowns for the two women characters getting married on Grey's Anatomy? (I looked at them like individual brides to stay true to each character's personal style). What makes for a great wedding? (When the bride and groom are happy and calm, not stressed. Watching them dance and celebrate takes me back to my own wedding and how happy I was.)
I love weddings. I never tire of it all -- the white, the veil, the tradition. I truly love the concept of marriage. As I design each gown, I imagine that bride: where she's getting married, the smile on her face as she walks down the aisle, dancing at her reception. Each bride is unique, and hearing each bride's story is something that inspires me in my work. With each bride also comes unique questions and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my advice and observations I've gathered over many years working with so many different brides.
In this column, I want to hear from you and help you address all of your bridal questions and concerns. Whether you're newly engaged, about to walk down the aisle, a bridesmaid for the tenth time, the mother/sister/friend of the bride, a frequent wedding guest, or an intrigued reader--submit your questions via Twitter @huffpostwedding, and each week we'll select several inquiries to be answered. Ask me about anything, and together I hope we can make achieving that perfect wedding day a little bit easier. I'll see you back here next week.
All gowns below from Amsale's latest collection