Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wedding Attire for Rebel Brides: 8 Iconic Looks

We are gathered here today to celebrate a love of the most unique and the most iconic in bridal attire. Check out these outstanding options for the nuptial-bound, photographed by Anthony Maule for V Magazine.

Bride 1

Stylist Patti Wilson ups the ante on the avant-garde by combining an utterly unique headdress and bold, chunky pearls with fingerless gloves…for a look that makes being an accessory to matrimony utterly divine!

Bride 2

A Victorian ruff round the neck is the only thing that’s classic about this wedding ensemble. A white and pale grey houndstooth checked micro-kilt, patterned stockings and pig-tail braids speak of schoolgirl.

Bride 3

Tons of tulle and layers of lace are the dramatic backdrop for this bridal look. Love the stockings and the unconventional veil.

Bride 4

Here comes the bride in a lace pantsuit, bound at the waist with a satin sash. Gorgeous!

Bride 5

This ivory laser-cut lace gown is utterly beguiling!

Bride 6

A plunging neckline and complicated mix of crocheted textures reveal a rebel bridal gown if ever there was one. Roses round the neck and delicate flowers framing the face complete the look.

Bride 7

Makeup artist Frankie Boyd adheres silver gems with lash glue beneath the eyes for the unconventional bride. Worn with a lace capelet, the look is undeniably unique.

Bride 8

This blushing bride is beyond beautiful wearing an asymmetrical veil and lace smock with bell sleeves.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Say ‘I Dew’ to Radiant Skin With MakeSense Pearlizer by SeneGence

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Hi guys, I am positively infatuated with a new product from the innovative team over at SeneGence International. If you haven’t heard about this unique company yet, listen up, because they routinely develop some of the best, results-oriented cosmetics on the market, all of which are chicly on-trend, good for your skin, never tested on animals, and completely affordable. You just cannot find makeup like this in any other line, anywhere. And it’s all coming from a company that operates with the utmost integrity.

I am already obsessed with SeneGence’s LipSense, a semi-permanent stain that when topped with its accompanying gloss can last up to 18 hours and sticks around through everyday challenges such as eating, drinking, and, most notably…kissing! I am convinced that it is the greatest lipstick in the world. As a licensed aesthetician, I appreciate the good-for-you ingredients, such as precious shea butter, which leave your lips conditioned and comfortable all day long.

With wedding season upon us, a lip color that stays put through the nuptials and beyond is, of course, the wish of every beaming bride. Well your wish has been granted with the incredible, indelible LipSense!

And now, SeneGence has developed a most unique product that I can’t stop raving about and it’s also ideal for brides. I’m telling all my makeup artist friends about it. It’s the MakeSense Pearlizer, $45.

Every bride-to-be wants a complexion with an enviable glow, and boy does this product deliver! You are going to adore it! It’s a sheer fleshy nude fluid spiked with natural light-reflecting minerals that give it a luminosity of gentle copper, and as the light hits your skin, it shimmers with a pale silver sheen…Just the kind of glow you get after you’ve just had an expensive luxury facial from a talented aesthetician at a swank spa.

This stuff is great for wedding pictures. You mix a teeny drop in with your foundation and it positively glides on the skin, melting immediately into your face and giving you that coveted J. Lo Glow! You can also wear it on bare skin as well if so inclined…Gorgeous!

I love mixing my Pearlizer with my foundation or my tinted moisturizer so I can get that glow going all over my face. Bring it on! It’s sheer and light enough to do this. Then, tap a little extra fluid in a C shape from the top of your cheekbones, just beneath your pupil, and up and around to the orbital bone for a fresh, dewy look. Make a crescent shape as you pat it on with your fingers, tapping the Pearlizer on to highlight your features and make your skin look positively flawless.

You need such a little bit, one bottle will last you at least a year. And the great thing about cosmetics from SeneGence is that they are also beneficial to the skin! How great is that? Spiked with SenePlex, the company’s own kinetic enzyme blend that increases cellular renewal, you’re actually doing something great for your skin while you are making up!

So say “I dew!” to radiant skin and a perpetually-perfect pout. SeneGence is here for all your bridal makeup needs.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine’s Day Corsets at Dark Garden—Necessary Luxuries

Marilyn

Marilyn Monroe and other actresses of her era seem to be endowed with impossibly beautiful hourglass figures that are guaranteed to turn heads. Nowadays we just don’t see a figure like Marilyn’s, above in ‘River of No Return.’ Diet and exercise, personal trainers and plastic surgery are easily available to much of the public, but if you are wondering what might be missing from the equation, it’s time to examine the corset.

Overwhelming Underpinnings

Few things are as sexy as a beautiful corsetted midriff, as seen below in the photo by Kevin Duda. Made with opulent color and magnificent lace, corsets are what screen sirens of a bygone era wore when they wanted to look outstanding, with that curvy hourglass shape.

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Traditional corsetry, however, may bring to mind a painful process or an uncomfortable manipulation of the waistline, but modern corsets reveal that nothing could be further from the truth.

Autumn Adamme, pictured below in the photo by Joel Aron, is owner of San Francisco’s Dark Garden Corsetry and Couture. She stated, “A bad corset hurts and a good corset actually feels supportive, like a comforting hug.”

Autumn

Corsetry–custom corsetry, in fact, is Dark Garden’s specialty, and they do it well. Stated burlesque sensation Dita Von Teese, pictured below, “Dark Garden has been my go-to corset maker for the past 15 years, making all of my stage corsets, apart from the ones Paris-based master corsetier Mr. Pearl has made.”

Peach corset

“Our corsets are made to fit modern bodies as opposed to Victorian bodies,” Autumn said. Most corset makers are starting with historical patterns, she told me, and you can’t really put a woman of 2014 into a corset from 1860 because their proportions are different due to lifestyle changes. Women of today do not start wearing corsets at age five, as they did historically. As a result, modern women have rib cages that have expanded differently. In addition, the modern woman is much more physically active, which also affects bone structure and musculature. “The Victorian shape had very slender ribs with a really narrow back and a wider front, because women’s posture was affected,” said Autumn.

Autumn is a stunning visual oddity from another place and time. Her passion for the unique, the feminine, and the beautiful is perceptible immediately when you step inside her petite boutique and behold the wearable art that engages the mind with fantasies that can actually come true.

“The beauty and fashion industry tend to be very focused on making us feel bad about our perceived flaws,” she told me. “We at Dark Garden invite people to see themselves in a new light, to feel better in their bodies, to see their inner bombshell beauty.”

Women of any size can discover their own hourglass shape at Dark Garden, where they fit to a 55-inch waist and up to an H cup! And Autumn, a maestro in fashions of the unexpected, blends refined with risqué, making her the ideal candidate for creating custom corsets and couture, as well as memorable one-of-a-kind wedding gowns.

In addition to Dita Von Teese, other celebrities have donned Dark Garden’s gowns and corsets, including Christina Aguilera, Pamela Anderson and Kelly Osbourne.

Euphrates

A corset will make a woman look better in clothing, and it also improves the curvatures of the waistline permanently through a process called ‘waist training.’

Dark Garden’s Euphrates Dahout, above, in the photo by John Carey, told me that she has lost four inches from her original waist since she started waist training a year and a half ago. Many celebrities, such as Jessica Alba, have used waist training post pregnancy to whittle their waistlines. “I wore a double corset day and night for three months,” the actress said, “and it worked.”

Not only do corsets make a remarkable difference in the body’s silhouette, but they are often used as an alternative to medical back braces, Euphrates said.

Of course you can find lingerie that claims to be corsetry almost anywhere–Victoria’s Secret stocks ‘corsets’ from around $60 all the way up to $300+ while Agent Provocateur sells them of higher quality from $660-$990, but none of them will shape the body and cinch the waist the way a true corset will. The corsets you see in boutiques are simply lingerie masquerading as corsets, and they will not give you the dramatic results of a genuine corset.

Dita playboy

“The Playboy corset for Dita [above], was done in conjunction with Catherine D’Lish,” Autumn told me, “as was my peacock feather-covered corset,” she said. Yes, you read it correctly: Autumn has a custom corset covered with peacock feathers which retails for $4,000!

“Catherine D’Lish spends months on the embellishment of corsets,” Autumn said. Lesser decorated corsets can cost as little as $500. But finding a beautiful corset does not have to be even that expensive. A basic cinched black poplin corset at Dark Garden costs $275.

Dark Garden also stocks fab goodies both old (such as vintage stockings wrapped decorously in waxen envelopes) and new (including the recently-launched eponymous lingerie line by Dita Von Teese.) In addition you will find unique jewelry from Compass Rose Design and fabulous vintage-inspired hats by Tricia Roush of House of Nines Designs.

I stopped by the intimate boutique, world-renowned and frequented by men and women of all shapes and sizes, to do a little investigative reporting.

Sales associate Danielle helped me shimmy into several corsets–this is a job best done with assistance at first, but I was told by Euphrates that the process becomes easier and eventually self-sufficient with practice.

Many women find the process of buying their first corset “transformative,” Danielle said, and I wasn’t really sure exactly what she meant until I found my true love: the black Dark Garden ‘Risque Cincher,’ with sheer panelling, in the photograph by Joel Aron below.

Risque cincher

And oh, my, I fell hard! Transformative, to say the least. This corset is probably more valuable than a month of therapy. It’s ‘retail therapy,’ as I’ve come to affectionately call it, when I blow a lot of dough on a highly-emotional purchase such as this sexy waist cincher.

The ‘Risque Cincher’ costs $430, which may sound expensive, but when you compare the value to flimsily-constructed impostors, Dark Garden’s prices are completely reasonable.

It creates a dramatic hourglass shape that makes me feel truly giddy with wonder at my own curves. Trust me, there is nothing like the exaggerated silhouette that’s created by a corset–in all its naughty-nice grandeur–that will make you feel quite as feminine. You’ll look like a total temptress!

And this corset is a glamorous addition to the wardrobe on so many levels. You can wear it over a dress to cut a dramatic profile, or keep it under wraps as a sexy surprise for your Valentine. The sheer panelling allows decorative fabrics and tattoos to peek through.

Dress it up or down, wear it in the bedroom or to the ballet, with a theatrical playfulness in costume, or with seduction on your wedding night. It can go vintage, fetish or modern in the blink of an eye.

Most of the girls at Dark Garden have what is referred to as a “corset wardrobe”–a collection of sexy corsets for different occasions, and I can’t wait to get another one.

You’ll need to buy a bra and panties to accompany your corset. I added the Dita Von Teese Savoir Faire set–a vintage-inspired bra, $65, and panty, $45. The set is trimmed in fine chantilly lace and priced very reasonably, especially considering the quality of the laces and the craftsmanship of the work. Grand total with tax: $587.25, and worth every cent. If you’re unsure the size of your Valentine, stop into Dark Garden and let their accommodating staff help you pick up some underpinnings for your love; or, consider a gift card. They always fit.

Autumn said, “Dark Garden was created with the intention of adding to the beauty in the world. Life can be very challenging at times, and we turn to beauty for inspiration and hope. I want people who wear Dark Garden corsets to feel power, beauty, strength, and sensuality.”

And in the words of her client, the famous sex symbol Dita Von Teese, “Glamour isn’t about age, shape or size. You don’t have to be pretty to have it. Anyone can create it.”

Well said, Dita, well said.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Beautiful Yet Functional Art for the Table: Annieglass

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Genius in Glass

I will never forget the moment I discovered Annieglass. It was love at first sight when I stumbled across these unique dishes, coveted and collected by too many celebrities to name, and used in some of the finest restaurants in the world.

Designed and created by glass artist Annie Morhauser, they’re utterly breathtaking and very difficult to photograph. Even the pictures in this article do not do justice to their incomparable beauty.

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I was beyond thrilled to tour the Watsonville factory with Annie. It’s positively stacked with her gorgeous tableware, which is painstakingly crafted with exacting standards. Below, an employee assembles a cake plate in Annie’s warehouse.

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I don’t remember where I first found my Annieglass–maybe it was Neiman Marcus, maybe Gump’s San Francisco, or possibly the Annieglass store in downtown Santa Cruz, all vendors of the product–but what I do remember is the sensation. It was utter awe. Magic. I really have never seen or felt anything like Annieglass before or since. Over the years several styles have been imitated, but never duplicated.

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The pattern that won my heart was the B.C. Dinnerware, above, with the bubbly warped glass and pebbled texture that is a trademark of many of Annie’s dishes.

B.C. Dinnerware stands for Before Christ Dinnerware–“because it looks like it predates Christ,” Annie tells me. The dinner plates are like relics from another place and time, all with a cunning asymmetry that is distinctly Annie’s own. They’re at once antiqued, yet infinitely modern. Glossy aquamarine wonders of rippling glass that look organically beautiful, they also feel beautiful. The underbelly has the texture of velvet.

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Above, Annie stands beside the two-ton sheets of durable architectural glass from which her pieces are fashioned. Commonly used in skyscrapers, the glass has the aqua tint from the iron in the glass, and the velvety feel is due to the uncommon process of sandblasting the bottoms of each piece. This contributes to the milky paleness that is undefinable, simultaneously translucent but also opaque.

But first the glass is “slumped” over plaster molds, below, revealing each one’s unique beauty through its imperfections–imperfections that make every piece an original, a treasure.

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I mix my B.C. Dinnerware with other pieces, especially the Shell Series, below, which has a prehistoric elegance–vessels shaped with the gentle silhouettes of fossilized seashells. They’re where art and artifact collide. Highly respected in the art world, two of the designs from the Shell Series reside in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

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Tipped with your choice of 24 karat gold or platinum, or simply non-trimmed, every piece bears the studio signature, and Annie herself signs limited editions. Her name is etched on the bottoms of the pieces.

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There are many patterns of Annieglass, such as the classic Roman Antique Gold and Platinum, above and below, which I also collect. This is the first collection that Annie launched, 30 years ago. I love the look of an Annieglass table, where mixing and matching collections is not only common, but de rigeur.

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With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas on its heels, I encourage you to discover your own inner awe as you look at these iconic creations, like the elegant Handkerchief Votives below.

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A significant advantage to these ethereal pieces is, oddly, their practicality. For something that looks so delicate and fragile, Annieglass can stand up to the most challenging circumstances; they’re dishwasher safe; and they look equally at home with any mixture of their Annieglass siblings, as well as fine China, limoges, or pottery.

You can add just one stunning piece for a real wow factor, or mix and match til your heart’s content. Either way, no two Annieglass tables will ever look the same. Your choice of linens, placemats, and of course flatware and accessories will define the table’s vignette. I love an Annieglass table set with twigs, bamboo placemats, stones, and other natural elements.

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Annieglass is perfectly appropriate for any circumstance–be it a Thanksgiving feast, a baby shower buffet, a New Year’s dinner, or Valentine’s day. Here, Annie holds a lovely heart-shaped dish that’s ideal for hors d’oeuvres or dessert.

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The pieces are multifunctional. Use one of Annie’s pedestal Slabs, above, to present fruit…or cheese…or a whole poached salmon.

Annieglass looks equally appropriate in the bathroom, due to its aquatic esthetics, holding decorative soaps or guest towels…cosmetics, sea sponges, and the list goes on and on.

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“Every piece of Annieglass can be, and should be, used for a variety of objects,” Annie says. “Ruffle cake stands make just as exquisite a resting place for dark chocolate velvet cakes as they do brie cheeses…and a salad plate makes a charming display for a bottle of wine or a candle,” she adds.

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Surprise a coworker with a sectional dish for olives or foil-wrapped chocolates, perhaps, like the one below from the Ruffle Series.

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A fabulous wedding gift is Annie’s stunning deviled egg platter. The perfect housewarming gift, a piece of Annieglass is a gift one would consider a ‘lifetime gift’ because Annieglass pieces are heirloom-quality creations that will stand the test of time via both form and function.

You need not save this art glass for special occasion only; Annieglass elevates even take-out to an art form. As I mentioned, the glass is incredibly strong, chip-resistant and dishwasher-safe. Annie tells me an interesting story. After Hurricane Katrina, she got reports from customers that their Annieglass survived the disaster. More than one person had their china cabinet washed away in the floodwaters and it was found down the street or a block away with all the Annieglass still intact, unbroken. “They just needed to be hosed off,” Annie said.

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Pieces from the Dew Drops Collection, above and below, are seductively punctuated with Swarovski crystals. Mere photos can’t even capture the detail…

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…and I love the hand-chipped pedestal on the new cone-shaped Edgey bowl, below, which merges seamlessly with Annieglass classics.

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You can see how Annieglass is created and discover the craftsmanship that goes into every piece at their lively and informative walking tours of the Watsonville factory. Call for reservations 831.761.2041 ext. 21.

In addition, wine tastings are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., pouring Santa Cruz and Monterey County wines.

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Above, the sunny Watsonville gift shop that’s adjacent to the warehouse is brimming with countless exquisite creations–the autobiography of a genius in glass, Annie Morhauser.

Click here to find an Annieglass retailer near you.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mink Eyelash Extensions: What’s The Fuss?

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They say you can never be too rich or too thin, and while I’m not so sure about that, I do believe that a girl can never have lashes that are too long or too thick.

In my quest for said lashes, I absolutely had to try the beauty craze of mink eyelash extensions. Pictured above, I am getting my first full set, applied by Alifa Wong of San Francisco’s Alifa Wong Beauty and Bridal.

The good news: you need zero eye makeup when you rock this look, which gives you the most beautiful, wide-eyed innocence that is simultaneously smolderingly sexy! In general I am not a fan of fake anything–the worst offender, of course, being fake nails…but these lashes are so unbelievably gorgeous that I think I might be hooked! It’s worth noting, too, that if properly applied, eyelash extensions do not damage your natural lashes.

The bad news: a set of eyelash extensions like this can cost $325 and up, and they don’t last forever. Touch-ups, which cost around $125, are recommended every 2-3 weeks. Also, although painless, the initial procedure takes about two hours, but I actually fell asleep while Alifa worked her magic on me.

Alifa told me that eyelash extensions are perfect for brides who want to look naturally fabulous sans mascara on their big day, as well as throughout their honeymoon.

For optimum results make certain that you’ve selected a talented artist for this job. Ask to view their portfolio, for example, and be sure to check online for reviews, because all lash extensions are not created equal.

Explained Australian makeup artist, Susan Markovic, “To all the eyelash extension practitioners out there, please follow the natural way lashes grow on an eyeline. I saw the worst application today where the longest lashes were actually on the inner eye and they were hitting the sides of the nose,” she said. “Apart from them looking wrong, the lady felt uncomfortable every time she blinked…have a little respect in your work and get properly trained!”

Alifa Wong offers package deals at a good price for touch ups, as well as a 20% discount for first-time clients.

Her studio also provides facials, makeup application and nail services, including endless binders of contemporary nail art for you to choose from. They even have a boutique of dresses for the discerning bride! It’s one-stop shopping for the soon-to-be-betrothed and girls who want to look irresistible every day of the year!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Wedding Belles: 13 Awe-Inspiring Bridal Gowns by Couture Fashion Designer Rubin Singer

Couture fashion designer Rubin Singer has turned his discerning eye toward the wedding gown. This is his first full bridal collection, and he does not disappoint. But this is hardly Rubin’s first foyer into bridal design.

“I’ve always designed bridal dresses in my mind that were very outside the box,” Rubin stated. “I would do a black wedding dress and use it as the finale of a show, but I never really told people that that’s what it was.”

Rubin’s first big bridal moment came when his stylist approached him to create the dramatic platinum-colored wedding dress for Cynthia Bailey, below, for The Real Housewives of Atlanta wedding finale.

“I was reluctant to do it,” Rubin explained, “because I didn’t want to get into reality television, but I changed my mind. My caveat,” he said, “was that it would be a wedding dress unlike any other. Shortly after that I started doing a lot of private bridal clients.”

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Rubin is a third-generation couturier. His father Alik cre­ated cos­tumes for the Bol­shoi Bal­let and the Stanislavsky The­atre, and his grandfather, after whom he is named, was one of the most cel­e­brated design­ers in the Soviet Union, dress­ing Russ­ian roy­alty, Soviet political fig­ures, and the social elite.

“I grew up in the business, around my father’s work in Paris and in New York. I watched him work my whole life and his aesthetic has been ingrained in my philosophy.”

And what would that philosophy be? “A woman is at her most powerful when she feels beautiful,” he told me, “and my goal is to empower women with my designs.”

Now he has flexed his creative muscles for this new self-imposed challenge: 13 awe-inspiring wedding dresses. And boy are they beautiful! Any gown by Rubin is sure to leave its wearer feeling like a princess. Just look at these dozen and one dazzling bridal beauties, each ethereal wonders, ripe with uniqueness, and each one personified with its own individual name as a work of art.

1. “Sarah”

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Rubin, a virtuoso of drapery, told me, “A lot of attention is paid to paneling, detailing and drape…I drape all the gowns myself.”

2. “Victoria”

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A side bustle adds visual interest to the statuesque strapless gown above. With metal mesh inserts and delicate beading, Rubin executes gracefully his own brand of elegant eclecticism.

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“I love to combine unexpected materials,” he said. “I use a lot of leathers and silks, for example.”

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You may have seen this type of dichotomy in Beyoncé’s leather and Chantilly lace bodysuit, designed by Rubin, which she wore for her Super Bowl performance in February.

With contrasting fabrics, Rubin creates interest through surface and tension between the elements.

3. “Juliette”

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“I’ve tried to veer away from the traditional silhouettes and details,” Rubin said. “Why would I do it otherwise? It already exists, and I wanted to create something that is different and that excites people.”

4. “Claudette”

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The heightened hemline of the flirtatious dress above is another example of Rubin’s unexpected, spontaneous–yet calculated–designs.

5. “Elizabeth”

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A visible petticoat, above, adds an air of drama and whimsy.

6. “Emma”

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“Much of my work is form-fitting and body-conscious, as well as sculptural,” Rubin said.

7. “Flora”

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As a third-genertion couturier, Rubin was raised by masters in the craft; hence his extraordinary attention to detail as seen in this intricately beaded dress in an unfamiliar silhouette.

8. “Josephine”

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“There is a strong aftertaste of couture in everything that I do,” Rubin said.

9. “Lucinda”

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The exquisite beaded bodice and asymmetrical ivory ruffle skirt, above, is a classic gown with a twist. “I have to present something to these brides that is going to make them feel unique and special,” he said.

10. “Miranda”

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Something blue? Yards and yards of frothy tulle explode beneath a brilliantly-beaded bust.

11. “Naomi”

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“My approach is to dress the modern bride,” Rubin said, “and the modern bride has a lot of needs. Sexiness is very important, but she is also demure. So it’s a matter of balance. There’s a sweetness as well as an aggressiveness. My clothes are about being strong and powerful,” he continued, “so that needs to balance with the sweetness.”

12. “Natasha”

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“Natasha,” above, is a mix of baby pink python with tulle. “It’s very unexpected, but the dress was so sweet that I felt it needed to be counterbalanced that way,” Rubin stated.

13. “Olivia”

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“This collection became an evolutionary experience when I started working with a lot of different kinds of brides,” Rubin said. “I had an African bride, I had a bride that was getting married at a Scottish castle, I had a bride getting married in the South of France. It was all about my experience with all of these different kinds of brides. I started to think about how I could approach, with my aesthetic, these different personalities. There are archetypal kinds of weddings and brides, and I wanted to address each one of them through the dresses in this collection,” he said.

The Rubin Singer Bridal 2014 collection will be sold in Kleinfeld’s and Neiman Marcus from September 2013.