Simplicity by Amsale


Amsale Aberra’s wedding dresses have remained simple, clean and architectural since 1985, when she designed her first gown. She died on Sunday, but a showing of her spring 2019 collection will go on as planned this month, as she had requested.

By Marianne RohrlichApril 5, 2018Amsale Aberra’s career started when she couldn’t find a dress for her own wedding in 1985. She wanted something simple, but every option on the market seemed over the top. So she made her own dress — with clean, simple lines and little embellishment. With that dress, Ms. Aberra, who died on Sunday, launched a business.

“Amsale was the mother of the modern bridal gown,” said Mara Urshel, the co-owner of Kleinfeld, the New York City wedding dress emporium that was the first to sell Ms. Aberra’s dresses. (Ms. Aberra was known by her given name.)

ImageThe first wedding dress Amsale sold commercially in 1991, at Kleinfeld. It was made of duchess satin with a sheer organza back and hand-rolled fabric roses at the waist.CreditAmsale

Before Ms. Aberra  joined the scene, you would mostly find “the frou-frou or wedding cake design dress,” Ms. Urshel said. “The fabrics were very embellished and beaded.”

Ms. Aberra’s collection was the first “to push the strapless gown in the 1990s,” Ms. Urshel said. It was also among the first to show backs and sleeves made of illusion fabric.

ImageA signature Amsale dress, from the spring 2002 collection, is made of duchess satin with a blue silk taffeta sash. CreditAmsale

It was unusual to see color added to a wedding dress, but Amsale sometimes used it to punctuate a style; she also incorporated embellishments like beads or crystals, but sparingly.

ImageElaine, from the spring 2016 collection, is a strapless, hand-beaded ball gown with a jacket.CreditAmsale

“Some of Amsale’s gowns did have a bit of lace or a few appliqués, but were mostly simple and unembellished,” Ms. Urshel said. The fabric she favored was silk faille.

ImageHudson, a silk faille column gown from the fall 2013 collection, is architectural with an asymmetrical draped tier overlay.CreditAmsale

As time went on the dress forms seemed to become a bit more complicated, but they remained unadorned and never fussy.

“She stayed true to her look,” Ms. Urshel said.

ImagePierce, in the fall 2018 collection, is a tulle ball gown with a tiered silk taffeta bodice. A crystal brooch, pinned to the waist, is the only adornment.CreditAmsale

Ms. Aberra’s last collection, for spring 2019, will be shown this month.


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