Earlier this week, we had the opportunity of attending a preview of Galia Lahav's new bridal collection at White Toronto. As if the gowns weren't mesmerizing enough, we also had the privilege to sit down with Galia Lahav's head designer, Sharon Sever. Sever apprenticed at Christian Lacroix, Balmain, and Balenciaga, to name a few, before joining Galia Lahav in Israel. Below is our exclusive interview with the fashion mastermind himself, where we discuss everything from his connection with Toronto to what makes a Galia Lahav bride.
WedLuxe (W): Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing in Toronto this weekend? What's special about it?
Sharon Sever (SS): It’s very special to me every time I come here because Andrea [of White Toronto] was one of our first clients. She is one of the first ones that spotted us when we started 5/6 years ago. We came to New York for the first time and we only had a few appointments and Andrea was one of them. I thought it was time to be here and now it's Christmas and it's the first time for the new collection… so it's a very special event for me personally. And I’m here, I told Andrea this, because I love her. It's more about the people, it's not always business. You know with what we do, you've got to be human to be in this business.
W: You accommodate customization requests from your brides - what sort of tweaks can be made for Galia Lahav customers?
SS: I can do anything. Of course, we limit things so that the dress does look within our style because we are not a seamstress. You come to a designer, you expect to get that designer's style. If somebody’s open-minded enough to go on this adventure with us, then you know that’s our biggest pleasure, that's what we live for. I've had a Canadian girl - she married Deadmau5. I made her a black wedding gown and she looked stunning.
W: Galia Lahav is one of the most in-demand bridal brands in the world. Why do you think your designs have struck such a chord with brides-to-be?
SS: I think we came out with the idea that a bride should enjoy her wedding instead of being a statue, too scared to sit or crease her dress. Our weddings are very long in Israel. If you’ve ever been to a Jewish wedding, you know that the ceremonies are different and the dinners a different thing, the party, the after-party, the photoshoot... everything is an event. Looking back 20 years ago, I mean we felt for these girls that couldn’t enjoy the day because they were so restricted by the hair, jewellery. So now we've found a way of making it easier for them. There's more drama in the dress but there’s more comfort because the fit that we've developed is something that - I hope - allows the customer to feel very different in our gowns. I always say (but sometimes people are offended), you don’t want to look like your grandmother anymore, you want to look like a supermodel.
W: With each new collection, the style and range of Galia Lahav dresses is becoming more and more diverse. While years ago, the gowns you created were more body conscious and all about showing off the feminine silhouette, recent collections have expanded on this and also include ball gowns and jumpsuits with bohemian and Victorian influences. What has prompted this shift in inspiration and aesthetic?
SS: I think the evolution of the brand, as I would call it, was that we started with that look, but we don’t want to bore ourselves - we are a fashion house after all. We are affected by what’s happening in the fashion world. You cannot stick to the same trick and have a lifetime career based on that. It’s very competitive, it puts a lot of pressure on you, but you have to know that once you’re in this business and you’re doing fashion for brides and you’re not just a wedding gown manufacturer, you enjoy the process - it inspires you to create more and more. We want to introduce new designs to the market, we always want girls to discover something new about themselves.
W: Who is the Galia Lahav woman? What sets her apart? How does the GALA by Galia Lahav customer differ?
SS: I’d say the guideline of a girl who would pick Galia is a girl who is fashion conscious, not fashion forward. She knows what is happening in the world, she likes to keep up to date, she knows what the latest trends are, she will not be led by her friends or mother or other people.. it's the girl who will not be influenced by tradition. It's the girl who creates her own tradition, for an independent woman who creates her own future - it's for a girl that will not settle for mediocre.
GALA appeals not to a different customer but to a customer who is having a different wedding. Something that's more trendy. I would say maybe a rooftop wedding or beach wedding - girls who are very, very trendy, with a wilder side.
W: What is it like to have celebrities like Beyoncé, Serena Williams, and Jennifer Lopez wear your designs?
SS: It’s a dream come true. And now that we’re doing couture, the exposure is bigger, so we’re getting more and more demands from bigger celebrities. But Beyoncé, I always say it's not your average celebrity story, because it wasn’t a PR thing, there was nobody involved, she came by herself, she knew exactly what dress she wanted, she didn’t change it, and she paid for it in full. Of course, with that body, it fit her like a glove… she just asked us not to tell anybody and we thought it was for a video or performance, and then we see she got married in it - that’s the biggest compliment you can get. That’s a moment - if you get a moment with a bride or a wedding in our business - that’s a moment.
W: You showed at Paris Couture Week again this year. Can you tell us a little bit about the experience of working on a couture collection?
SS: That’s my dream come true. I studied in Paris and always wanted to go back. And when we were accepted by the committee, we couldn’t believe it - we couldn’t believe we were doing it - the first Israeli fashion house to ever present on that runway. It made history in Israel, maybe here it doesn’t count much, but in Israel that’s a very big thing.
W: How do you celebrate after you release a new collection at Couture Week or at New York Bridal Market?
SS: It always takes a while to recover because after it happens, you say 'wow that went so fast'. And we worked on it for months and then it's over in 20 minutes, so you have the adrenaline running for at least a couple of days more. But then when it sinks in, you start dreaming about the next time. You’re always looking for another thing, a new project.
W: What do you see coming in terms of trends for 2019?
SS: In bridal, I think many of the things we’ve introduced in the Alegria are getting big. Of course, there are pant suits, like in GALA, that we started 2 years ago that are getting more in demand, but what I see especially is the bigger silhouettes which are becoming more popular. We are seeing more and more ball gowns. Though it’s impossible to bring those heavy old ball gowns back in fashion, there are new ways of making them - new volumes and ways of getting that Grace Kelly silhouette. The off-the-shoulder look is bigger and bigger and sleeves as well are very trendy now - all the girls want sleeves, but they have to be off-the-shoulder and very dramatic. Detachable trains, skirts, and straps, necklines that can change, tops that you can remove - these are also very trendy at the moment. And finally colour! We’ve insisted on colour for years - blush, nude, and everything we love - silver is getting there, so that makes me very happy.
For a bit of fun, we then asked Sever a few rapid fire questions:
W: Lace or silk?
SS: "Lace, always."
W: Crystals or pearls?
W: Strapless or long sleeves?
W: Mermaid or full skirt?
W: Spring or fall?
W: New York or LA?
SS: "New York."
W: Veil or cape?
See Galia Lahav's couture creations, exclusively at White Toronto.