A Conversation with

Heidi Elnora

It's the height of wedding season, so conversations are turning to beautiful gowns, stunning accessories and, of course, glamorous hairstyles. We recently talked to wedding dress designer Heidi Elnora about her latest collection, up-to-the-minute trends in bridal fashion and hair (Great Gatsby inspiration galore!) and the edgy hairstyle she wore for her own wedding. Known for her handmade approach and attention to detail, Heidi is fond of injecting her own brand of "Southern sparkle" into her designs. While she's based in Birmingham, AL, you can also find her dresses in boutiques across the world, including 14 Nordstrom locations. Aside from running her own wedding dress label, Heidi is known for competing on Season 2 of Project Runway. Her designs have been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Southern Weddings, Brides, The TODAY Show and more.

What was the inspiration behind your Spring 2014 collection, "Mod"?
The Spring 2014 collection was inspired by my junior year of high school. The gowns are named after some of my best friends from that year. Each gown represents one of those girls and her personal style. From geometric shapes to flowy skirts, this collection is full of whimsy.

Who is your primary customer?
Our brides are big on fit. They are more minimalist in style and are very detail-oriented. They care about quality and craftsmanship.

What is your favorite dress from the collection?
I love the Valerie Lynn, a V-neck ball gown with a floral design. It is named after my sweet Momma. It is absolutely gorgeous. It has a silk jacquard base and was hand-screened in Italy.

What is your favorite way for a bride to wear her hair with that dress?
I think the hair could be worn in several different ways: either a low ponytail with a center part or a slicked-back high bun would work great. I always have hairstyles in mind when designing a dress. Since each gown is designed with a particular person in mind, so is the overall look and feel.

Should a bride go trendy or classic with her hair for her wedding day?
I feel that it really depends on the style of the dress and the bride抯 personality, but trendy styles can make your special day look dated when you're looking back through your wedding album.

How can brides inject some personality into a more traditional dress look?
A great way to show off your personality is by using items that represent who you are. A bride should wear a hairstyle that makes her feel beautiful, complements the mood of her wedding and creates balance with her dress. For example, a very elaborate dress may be complemented best with a simple or more classic hairstyle, whereas a very simple dress can work best with a more couture hairstyle. Hair accessories with a dash of color or floral accents that coordinate with the wedding flowers are also a great way to add some personality. Some brides even pin on a custom hairpiece to enhance their natural hair texture or length.

Are there any current bridal party trends that you particularly like?
The 1920s vibe is in full effect right now. I feel as though more girls will be wearing their hair up with a great hair accessory this wedding season.

Your own hair was done in a very chic, edgy updo on your own wedding day in 2009. What inspired this and how did you pull it off?
I love the idea of a faux-hawk. Since I have a sweetheart face, I wanted to add height to my hair. It stayed perfect during the entire ceremony and reception.

How do you define "Southern sparkle," and how do you inject it into your designs?
"Southern sparkle" means not overdoing it in the bling department. You have heard the phrase, 揓ust a dash will do. The same goes for my gowns. The bride should be wearing the gown; not the gown wearing the bride.

Why is a homemade approach important to you in your designs?
Garment artisans in Alabama create all of my trims, accessories and gown details by hand. It抯 nice to be able to continue to support local artisans.

- NATALIE GONTCHAROVA

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