Ethiopian-born designer Amsale Aberra first considered creating bridal attire when she was hunting for her own wedding dress in 1985. Frustrated by the lack of classic, timeless gowns, she designed her own, and in 1986 she launched her own label, designing custom wedding dresses from her garment-district loft. Brooklyn bridal retailer Kleinfield saw an ad she ran inModern Brideand bought her entire collection, and Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman followed suit. She opened a Madison Avenue flagship in 2001. With the motto “forever modern,” the label’s gowns are known for their classic elegance and understated adornment, like handcrafted beading or a blue sash at the waist. The dresses average around $5,000, but Aberra also creates made-to-order gowns starting at $25,000. The Amsale Design Group includes the Christos line for traditional brides; the Amsale line for a simpler, sophisticated look; the elaborate Kenneth Pool collection; and Amsale Evening, a line of eveningwear for bridesmaids and red-carpet events. The label has more than 35 full-time employees, and the gowns are manufactured in New York and contract factories in Bangkok. Amsale dresses have been well represented in television and film: Sandra Oh’s character wore a $6,600 mermaid style onGrey’s Anatomy, Julia Roberts wore an Amsale gown in the movieRunaway Bride, and Katherine Heigl modeled several of the designs in the movie27 Dresses.
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