An Interview With Rockstar Bridal Designer Pnina Tornai
The Israeli-born designer has become quite the icon since her first designs were turned away by Kleinfeld Bridal.
Photo by Jamie Levine Photography
It’s no exaggeration to say that the American bride who hasn’t heard the name Pnina Tornai is an anomaly. In the 13 years since she brought her first bridal designs — which were rejected — to Kleinfeld, the iconic Manhattan boutique that’s the setting for TLC’s hit show Say Yes to the Dress, the 55-year-old Israeli-born designer has become an icon herself. Tornai, who is half Moroccan and half Egyptian, imparts her exotic aesthetic to her romantic, ultra-feminine, often dramatically sexy designs, much to the delight of brides of all ages. We caught up with Tornai in October, just before she debuted her 2018 LOVE Collection and her couture Fragile Collection at New York City’s Bridal Fashion Week.
Please tell us about your latest collection.
I was inspired by the love I receive every day from my beautiful brides from all around the world, as well as the simple pleasures that life has to offer. Gratitude, love, and the divine magic of this world spurred me to create this collection and allow more brides to be able to say yes to a Pnina Tornai dress at a more attainable price point.
What are the signature elements that make a gown a Pnina?
I would say it’s the fit that sets my gowns apart from the rest. My corset structure, strategically placed boning, and precise construction allow the feminine figure to shine, highlight a bride’s best assets and downplay any trouble areas.
Is there a quintessential Pnina Tornai bride?
All of my brides have a unique sense of self, confidence, and an eye for fashion. A Pnina bride is willing to take a risk when it comes to fashion and wants that “wow” effect when she walks down the aisle.
What are the hottest trends in bridal fashion, and what do you predict for 2018–19?
For 2018, I think we are going to see some color on the runway, as well as gown alternatives, such as shorter dresses, pantsuits, and jumpsuits. I also think that embellishments such as pearls and crystals will make a comeback.
What bridal trends do you think are fizzling?
Strapless gowns aren’t getting the attention they once did. So many of my brides ask to add straps or sleeves. I also think that the bohemian look may fizzle out, and regal, glamorous looks may be in higher demand.
Why do you think your famous crystal-embellished ball gown (above), which has become synonymous with Say Yes to the Dress, resonated with so many brides? Oh, and is it still available?
Because it is truly a Cinderella gown. The corset allows for the perfect fit, the satin is a regal choice of fabric, and there is the perfect amount of sparkle. It’s a little bit sexy because it shows off the waist, but it also has a dramatic and voluminous skirt. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to retire this style!