Danielle Frankel isn’t the type of bridal designer that categorizes every season with a new inspiration. Her inspiration always comes from the same source: her brides. Ever since she launched her namesake bridalwear label in 2017, she’s been very involved in the fittings, where she says she finds herself “constantly learning more about women and what they want.” The result? Gorgeous, statement-making wedding gowns that are far from traditional, yet just as elegant and chic.
Last fall, Frankel expanded her label’s offerings, launching a six-piece collection of luxe loungewear that can be worn by anyone at any time, allowing non-brides to experience her exquisite designs. In the latest episode of Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr, Frankel shares advice for brides who aren’t sure what they’re looking for in a wedding gown, what every bride should prepare for if they choose to go the custom route, wedding jewelry tips, and so much more. Make sure to tune in to hear it all, and keep scrolling from some excerpts from the conversation.
How do you help guide a bride who has no idea what they want or is open to everything?
It's a lot harder, actually. If someone came to me and they were like, "I need to wear a bra. That's nonnegotiable," it's a lot easier for us to direct them into styles that will work because we know the ones that have either a built-in bra or are bra friendly. So when someone's very open, we give them anything from an A-line gown to a slip dress and everything in between and edit from there. What I do tell women is that nobody knows the dress that you didn't wear. No one's ever going to say, "Oh, she should have chosen the other one" because you're only getting one. So if you can edit yourself down to the one that you like the most, it's great. You don't need to like two. You just need to like one.
What are questions that brides should be asking you and your team the first time that everyone meets? On the flip side of that, do you have questions for them? Especially if you're doing something custom, I feel like that has to be a mutual selection process.
It's really like dating. You have to see if you're the right designer for somebody. You're the creative director, but if they're wanting something custom, the bride has to also have some sort of sense of direction. So we always have her send a mood board before we even get the conversation started, and it's always within the genealogical aesthetic of things because we want to make sure it's the brand. But there's a back-and-forth before we even get to sketching because you want to make sure that you're jiving with the person. And if you're going the custom route, I think people don't realize how much faith they have to have that the final product all comes together in the end. You're going through muslin fittings, and it's like building a house, in that there are steps to get there versus "Here's your house" or "Here's your gown." Most people don't experience the design process. They just experience the end product of things. But when you're doing a custom gown, it is about the process. It's not just about that end product. So if someone wanted to go custom and that route was just intriguing to them because they want something super special, it's really important that this woman asks herself, "Do I have faith in the unknown?" That's a really important part of it.
Can we talk about jewelry to wear with your gown? What are you loving right now? What does a fashion girl wear for wedding jewelry?
A lot of the time, people will bring their jewelry to their fittings just so they can see everything together or options. I love it when someone wears some kind of family jewelry, a little token here or there—whether it's your grandmother's little strand of pearls and you're wearing it as your anklet or something cool like that. To me, that's taking something that's nostalgic and maybe special to you and wearing it in a new way, bringing it new life. For our jewelry, it's exclusively pearls for the most part. I try to think of it as something that pairs next to the gown. So it's like you have to really think about "What is your gown?" and then you think about your jewelry. But I'm a huge believer in investing in good jewelry. I also am a believer in wearing that jewelry. So to me, if you're going to buy something, it should be something that you will wear again and again and again. I actually won't purchase a piece of jewelry if it's not something I'll wear every day. To my own wedding, I actually wore this earring [I have on now]. It's my everyday jewelry. I personally don't feel like it needs to change if it's something that I've invested in. I want to wear it, but I'm also someone who doesn't like to change my jewelry often because I'm lazy. [Laughs]
You also just released a loungewear capsule collection in cedar-brown, arctic-blue, and white crinkled charmeuse that is absolutely gorgeous. Tell me about the decision to go into loungewear. Why now, and why loungewear?
There were a couple things that came to mind with this. … If you meet me, well, out of my office, I'm one of those people that loves being comfortable. If I could wear leggings and a sweatshirt every day, I would. So what's the fashion equivalent of that, and what's acceptable to wear? The women in the office have to wear something that's our brand. This is just my train of thought, right? So what are they going to wear to the office? Obviously, we're not walking around in wedding gowns all day, but I do want us to feel like we are a cohesive brand. Those were the back-of-the-head questions. But really, we wanted to expand our clientele. We have so many fans of the label that are not getting married. They're not engaged, or the price point doesn't make sense for them. And to me, two things were really important here. One is that these retailed at a really sharp price. So they're $375 for the set, for the classic lounge set. And to me, they look like a million dollars. I'm so happy with the way they came out. But I just thought that we needed to be able to tap into people who already have a relationship with us. So past brides, for example. What are you gifting someone else from our label? Or aside from getting ready and adding to the wardrobe for the actual wedding, I wanted to think of a way to reach people that want the collection that aren't getting married. That was the number one question. And to me, it wasn't a T-shirt. It wasn't something more simple. It had to make sense for us. But the price point really was something that was huge for me.