In 2012, Kellee Khalil completely changed the wedding planning game, with the launch of Lover.ly. The website became the go-to, all-in-one resource dedicated for discerning brides to research and collect ideas (think Pinterest for weddings). Now, Khalil’s once again filling a void in the wedding market, with a line of dresses based on the searches of Lover.ly’s customer base. They’ve taken all of the data collected from search terms on the site, and literally given the customer what they wanted, with affordable wedding wear for the un-traditional bride, including fashion forward looks like the “little white dress” or the bridal jumpsuit (pictured, right). To take on this enormous task, she brought on designer Eva Franco, known for her gorgeous indie looks for Anthropologie, as well as her successful eponymous label. With mismatched bridesmaids dresses (that will actually be worn again) to perfect navy blue rehearsal dinner duds, all averaging around $200, it’s clear this collection will sell out quick. We spoke to Kellee Khalil and Eva Franco about the collection–which you can find at Wedding Crashers on March 22!–e-commerce, and the latest bridal trends (blavy, anyone?).
BB: Can you give me the back story on the collection?
Kellee Khalil: From day one, our mission at Lover.ly has been to make wedding planning easier and more fun – and fashion is such a great part of the process. We’ve been looking to build the Lover.ly repertoire for some time, and in the last year, we’ve blown out our editorial content and continued to be a place that brides can come to for curated imagery and content–so e-commerce was a good next step. Why not have our own Lover.ly collection?
BB: What was it like creating the collection for Loverly?
Eva Franco: It was a great experience for me, I’ve never done bridal before–so it isn’t my traditional wheelhouse–but so much of my design aesthetic translates well for brides, especially the more indie types. I love going to flea markets and vintage bazaars, and the antiques and heirlooms that I find there are very applicable to bridal–so it’s been great inspiration for this design process.
BB: Why did you choose Eva Franco to design the collection?
Kellee Khalil: We’ve loved Eva for a while, and always thought her aesthetic–for whimsy and vintage–was a perfect fit for Lover.ly. She also never had bridal in her portfolio, so we were able to work very collaboratively, giving her the goods on what our brides wanted, and seeing her bring our search terms to life. Truly, nine out of 10 bridesmaids won’t wear their dresses again after a wedding, so bringing on a ready-to-wear designer, who is versed in wardrobe wearability, made sense to us.
BB: What’s new and fun about this bridal collection?
Eva Franco: The big thing with these dresses is that girls CAN wear them again. I’m a ready-to-wear designer, so with that style and sensibility in mind, it was great to be able to bridge wear-now trends into bespoke bridesmaids pieces. The dresses are great for mix-and-match bridal parties. Bridesmaid style is NOT one-size-fits-all, so I was excited to create unique silhouettes that flatter any body shape, but work them into popular color palettes for a cohesive group look.
BB: Explain how you were able to use the user search terms on the site to inspire the looks in the new collection.
Kellee Khalil: Our brides were the driving force for this collection. We know what they want and what they don’t want based on what they’re searching for and what they’re loving and bundling, and we knew that this pulse would be the perfect, organic way to build a collection.
BB: How was that data collected? And what were some of the most frequent searches?
Kellee Khalil: We have the scoop on what’s trending in weddings and bridal in real-time, and this is SO useful for a company like ours because we can turn the data around into tangible products in a much speedier way. Other brands might have good radar for what’s trending, but can’t produce the dress or whatnot for a year at least. As for searches, the most popular trending keywords have been color-based: ‘navy,’ ‘sage,’ ‘blush,’ and silhouette styles like ‘crop tops’ and ‘jumpsuits.’
BB: Jumpsuits are a fresh take for wedding wear! What and who inspired this look?
Eva Franco: Jumpsuits have been trending in ready-to-wear for a while, and I think it’s great that they’ve crossed into bridal territory. Not every bride wants to wear a dress for her wedding day, and she should be able to wear what she feels best in on the most important occasion of her life. I don’t necessarily think that one person inspired the look, I think it’s more about the direction of fashion/and what people are gravitating to–but it’s exciting to see the trend play out on celebrities (like Solange Knowles) and it’s going to continue.
BB: How was designing this line different from doing ready-to-wear?
Eva Franco: The process was similar–the silhouettes (A line and fit and flare) and overall vintage vibe are very on par with my RTW designs. In RTW, I’m familiar with bold colors and interesting prints, which aren’t necessarily a fit for bridal, so I had to acclimate to softer, more pastel color iterations. And I needed to keep in mind that these dresses, specifically the little white dresses, would be worn on the biggest day of a woman’s life, so they needed to be completely timeless. Also, my own bridesmaids all had very different body types, so with bridal, I felt it was super important to create styles that addressed all of the different body types.
BB: What kind of customer did you have in mind while you were designing?
Eva Franco: For the little white dresses, we were really targeting the offbeat bride who might be getting married at City Hall, or tying the knot in a less formal setting–the beach, at-home, etc. Thinking of the alternative bride, for her maids we wanted to offer non-traditional dresses–with trending elements like crop tops, popovers and jumpsuits.
BB: Describe the fabrics that you used in the collection.
Eva Franco: The collection offers something really different in the bridal market–we didn’t work with traditional special occasion fabrics like satin. Instead, we opted for rich and variable-weight textures like lace, jacquard and chiffon. I have always been known for my use of textured fabrics, so when I used lace this time I tried to switch it up with a type of lace that was uniquely patterned/odd and linear instead of traditional laces. I also combined lace with sequins or coated with a foil finish.
BB: How were you able to keep the price point so reasonable with such beautiful fabrics and designs?
Kellee Khalil: Riffing off the reality that so many bridesmaids never wear their dresses again, we wanted to create designs using luxe and trend-forward fabrics like lace and jacquard that our girls would be thrilled to wear outside of the wedding arena. Our goal was to keep the dresses affordable ($178-$483), but also high-end quality that bridesmaids would feel comfortable investing in.
BB: What are some new bridal trends we’ll be seeing for 2015?
Kellee Khalil: Every day there’s a new trend in bridal, but right now I’m just loving the alternative looks trend for brides–shorts, jumpsuits and rompers. Also, everything floral: floral crowns, oversized/overgrown bouquets with lots of greenery and floral walls. Super sweet, ethereal and frothy tulle skirts for brides and bridesmaids, and also BLAVY (blue+navy) blazers for the guys. This was all over the red carpet this season!
BB: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Eva Franco: I’m inspired by so many things–but at my core, I want to create pieces that celebrate being a woman. I got married last year myself, so the whole process of designing my dress and my bridesmaids dresses was completely fresh and relevant. Like any bride, I had concerns and wants over how I wanted myself and my five bridesmaids to look and it was very real and tangible. My wedding was in Mexico, so all the colors were really bold and strong–it made sense given the location. This collection with Lover.ly was great as I really loved the softer pastel color palettes inspired by confections and cakes, and believe it or not–nail polish colors as well! Nothing is off limits in the design world. I have bought many objects and articles just as reminders of colors that have seemed so lovely to me.