Henry Roth has just completed a Runway show in New York, showcasing some amazing bridal designs with his sister, Michelle. He takes us behind the scenes:
“The Henry Roth and Michelle Roth runway was recently launched at Kleinfeld in Manhattan. Twice a year in New York City bridal designers showcase their collections to a very discerning group of journalists and also to buyers from around the country.
This takes place in April and September every year and the success of what we call ‘Market Week’ (they’re called ‘Showings’ in Australia) here very much determines how your season will unfold and how successful your collection will be accepted by journalists and brides-to-be alike.
Just as a point of interest we were able to have a very high charged group of people including the editor and fashion director of Bride Magazine, which is the largest selling bridal magazine in the world, the founder and owner of the Knot.com which is the largest wedding website of its kind. We had an array of bloggers, who I love and also we were streamed live so it was quite the event.
To get to this point has taken a team effort and our family bridal design company goes back three generations. The wonderful and amazing thing about this runway was that it was held at Kleinfeld which is the largest wedding dress salon anywhere in the world with over 75 designers. We work hard to maintain a wonderful position among those designers and are currently in the top 5. Considering this is amongst top wedding dress designers in the USA, Europe and England we were very excited that Kleinfeld was happy for us to have our runway in their salon.
I suppose I really should write a book to answer how I got to the USA. Both my sisters, Michelle who I design with and Lilian who is an architect live in New York. We have created a wonderful wedding dress business in Australia and Michellle Roth my sister set sail from Sydney 20 years ago with dreams of having a buoyant wedding design business in New York City and here we are today.
It is of course incredibly exhilarating to divide my time between Sydney and New York City. We work very hard to take advantage of the opportunities that can be made available. Our gowns are styled in a unique way and we find that we connect with our brides in a unique way which hopefully makes it an enjoyable experience for them.”
(Image: Michelle Roth Design)
Where is Kleinfeld?
“Kleinfeld is positioned in downtown Manhattan and it takes up almost a quarter of the block positioning itself on 110 West 20th Street We between 6th and 7th Avenues. On a typical Saturday Kleinfeld will consult to more than 100 brides and their bridal parties.”
How long have you been stocked there?
“Michelle and I have been designing and merchandising our gowns to retailers in the USA for more than 10 years and to Kleinfeld for the past 9 years.”
How does it feel to be in the top 5 best selling brands in the world’s biggest bridal couture store?
“It is invigorating and at the same time makes you want to work with even more inspiration to ensure that the designs are cutting edge, well priced, fit phenomenally well and are always unique and gorgeous. We’re certainly not complacent, it drives us to strive for continued success.”
How long did you plan for the show?
“The truth of the matter is that it was one of my famous epiphanies that I have from time to time. It was only 6 weeks between when we made the decision and when Michelle and I took to the Runway. We had a lot to do in a short amount of time. This is the way fashion works. We had our finale gown arriving the day before the runway commenced. Regardless, Michelle and I are designing wedding dresses every week so overall the planning of the show never stops because the mainstay of any runway are exceptional gowns and that is what we work on as an exceptional design project.”
What were you looking for when casting the models?
“There is a lot to look for when casting models because they are the clincher between the inspiration and how the designs are viewed physically, including sophistication, attitude and sensitivity to the styling. That took almost a week of continual castings. It is extraordinary how diverse the model community is in New York City. I don’t think that there was a main country that was not represented by all the girls while doing the castings.
We were looking for super chic models who were able to command the gown, probably a fuller bust and the ability to just flow effortlessly down the runway with lots of attitude and warmth. Additionally decisions are made not just on an individual basis but how a model integrates with the rest of the choices. I am pleased to say that we had two adorable Australian models who really did us proud and I would have to say that without a doubt Australian models hit the same heights as New York City models.”
Any hiccups along the way ?
“I think that my family, Michelle, myself and the team we work with have come to the conclusion that there are going to be bits and pieces that may not go exactly as planned and honestly the end result never justifies getting steamed up over anything. I think the most important thing is I have always said to brides, lay down the best plans for your wedding but remember on the day it is a celebration of love not of perfection. So I have reminded myself of that advice whenever I am nearing a runway.”
How did the show go?
“I have to tell you first and foremost I have a tradition – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich the morning of the show and I always know how it’s going to go by how good the jelly tastes that day. The event was just fantastic, it was full to the brim with a quality of attendance that was very exciting.
We decided to create a very natural, approachable and warm atmosphere and had the hair and makeup tables outside near the runway to integrate behind stage with front of house. We had created an official soundtrack of the show from Australia and so I felt like a bit of Sydney was with me. The champagne was flowing, we had this exceptionally decadent key lime pie cake, the gowns sparkled, the atmosphere sparkled and there wasn’t a moment of stress because Michelle and I are always determined to enjoy ourselves. The outcome is wonderful as we are already starting to see coverage in all the major bridal magazines, online blogs, Facebook and all the appropriate channels.”
How did you decide on hair and make up looks?
“We were really looking to having hair and makeup that reflects red carpet celebrity trends that we see at the recent academy awards.”
Michelle and I decided on asymmetrically placed updos that were entwined with Swarovski hair jewellery pieces. The hairstyling was still quite fluid allowing for wisps of hair to fall out naturally framing the face. If you look at the Academy Awards, hair raised off the face in a nonchalant manner was very strong.
We utilised a very cutting edge hairstylist by the name of DM www.dmhair.com and if the names Cameron Diaz, Dita Von Tess, Drew Barrymore, Gwen Stefani, Scarlett Johannsen, Penelope Cruz and probably 40 other A-list Hollywood celebrities excite you then we were excited too because this is who DM has styled recently.
Again with a nod to red carpet celebrity styling we decided on a beautiful smokey eye and used a pencil and not a liquid eyeliner for more of a smudged feel to the eye and went for a nude lip. This means that there was no colour of all except for a little sheen to lift the natural lip colour. This was co-ordinated by Upper East Side stylist Laura Geller www.laurageller.com who has products have sold through home shopping TV networks throughout Europe and America. She is a highly respected name in the industry.
What was your favourite outfit and why?
“Without a doubt my favourite outfit was the gown called Zoe which is an organza and satin polka dot 50s inspired ballgown. It is named after my niece and Michelle’s daughter, Zoe who is 8 months old.”
(Image: Zoe Dress)
What were some of the outcomes and highlights?
“Runways and launching collections are part of an ongoing process for designers to constantly keep fresh, relevant, up to date and commercially responsive to the needs to a very fast changing palette of tastes. It has taken Michelle and I 14 years to get to this place and the lesson I have learnt is a saying that I will quote from old American top 40 dj Casey Caseham who used to sign of his broadcasts as follows: “Keep your feet firmly on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”.
Our family is conscious of the fact that wedding dress design requires a connection between the designer and the bride. It never has been nor will it ever be about being the biggest. Our goal remains to be a boutique company run by family and staff that are like family and not only just to design but to gain joy from the symbolism connected with being involved with other families as they start new chapters in their lives.”
What’s next for Henry Roth?
“I know one thing for certain, I am normally a very busy person. Continuing to design and create amazing gowns for both Australia and America. At some point doing Season 3 of Project Runway Australia , being a spokesperson for Specsavers which I love to do, attending to various media interviews most recently for the Today Show on red carpet awards nights and trying to make sure that what we do is done well.”
Visit the website for Henry Roth: www.henryroth.com.au