Photo: Allan Zepeda via Instagram/@nayelnassar
Jennifer Gates and Nayel Nassar met on the equestrian circuit and quickly became friends. Both Stanford graduates, they competed together internationally until Jenn started medical school in 2019. Their friendship eventually turned into something more, and they got engaged in January of 2020 when Nayel proposed to Jenn on her favorite ski run.
Jenn, the daughter of Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, is now a third year MD candidate at the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai. Before pursuing her path in medicine, Jenn was an internationally ranked equestrian athlete. She is also the founder of Evergate Stables, which is now co-managed by the couple.
Nayel was born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Kuwait by his Egyptian parents, Iman Harby and Fouad Nassar, founders and managers of Diwan Interiors International. He is currently ranked 44th in the world as a show jumping rider and competed in his first Olympic Games in Tokyo this past summer for Team Egypt. Nayel also recently developed and launched Jumpr, a new app for show jumping results and statistics.
The couple’s wedding took place this past weekend at their farm in Westchester County, New York. They worked with Marcy Blum Events to plan everything, while Rishi Patel of HMR Designs did all of the florals. They also relied on creative support and styling from Laura Lovett and Priscilla Poelmans. “Planning a wedding while I was in medical school rotations and Nayel was preparing for the Olympics was no small feat,” Jenn admits. “But it was so worth it to share such a special day with those closest to us. We feel so grateful for everyone involved who kept us on track and helped make our vision come to life. One piece of advice we were given [throughout the planning process] was to remember that this day is about us and our love. I think we really kept that at the center of our minds while planning, and we also tried to ensure that our families and friends were able to enjoy themselves.”
While the couple obviously wanted to be able to celebrate with their close friends and family, they wanted to ensure the event would be safe. “Which is why we made the decision that all guests must be fully vaccinated and receive a negative test result prior to the wedding,” Jenn says. “We also made masks available. We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to gather with our loved ones safely. We know others aren’t as lucky, especially as the pandemic continues to devastate communities in the United States and around the world.”
The wedding weekend began with a Katb el Kitab, or the Islamic marriage ceremony, on Friday with just Jenn and Nayel’s immediate families present. “Our main ceremony took place on Saturday,” Jenn says. “It was a beautiful fall day, and we had just finished taking photos when the rain started. The ceremony was facilitated by a longtime family friend, and we both wrote our own vows. It was a really special and intimate moment.”
Photo: Allan Zepeda via Instagram/@jenniferkgates
The bride wore a custom ivory long-sleeve A-line Vera Wang Haute gown with hand appliqué French macrame lace on the bodice, sleeves, and flowing onto a light ivory and champagne Italian tulle skirt to walk down the aisle—which was lined with white hybrid Dutch delphinium flowers—for the outdoor ceremony on Saturday. A light ivory Italian tulle chapel length veil trimmed in hand-appliqué French macrame lace complemented the dress. “Vera and her whole team were so wonderful to work with, and made my dream dress come true,” Jenn says. “She is an icon in the fashion industry and a trailblazer as a woman who changed careers late and followed her passions. From our first meeting, I knew that I was in such good hands.” The groom looked dapper in a classic Armani tux with a Lily of the Valley boutonniere—to match the bride’s bouquet—pinned to his lapel.
After the service, guests moved into the tent for the reception. For this portion of the evening, Jenn changed into a second gown by Vera Wang Haute, this one with a square neckline, lined in nude tulle and embellished with hand appliqué French macrame lace on the skirt and straps.
The newlyweds kicked off the festivities with a first dance to “Yellow Lights,” which was written and performed by their friend and artist Harry Hudson. “After such a meaningful ceremony, we wanted our friends and family to enjoy great food and entertainment,” Jenn says. “It was a beautiful evening and a dream come true for both of us!” Dinner was by Jean Georges and Creative Edge Catering and the six layer floral-adorned cake was a Sylvia Weinstock for Ladurée creation.
Photo:Allan Zepeda via Instagram/@marcyblum
“It’s been a challenging year, both collectively with the pandemic and for our families going through transitions,” Jenn says. “But our love for one another has been a constant. Being able to celebrate our wedding with our closest friends and family was a dream come true.”
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Originally published on Vogue.com
Photo: Allan Zepeda via Instagram/@nayelnassar
The world learned of Ariana Grande’s secret wedding a week ago, and now the bride has shared pictures from the intimate at-home ceremony – including her strapless white Vera Wang gown and sweet hair bow. Also present and correct on the pop star’s wedding day? Her signature sky-high ponytail.
Grande married real estate agent Dalton Gomez at her Montecito mansion on 15 May, wearing a strapless white column gown with a low back, in a look reminiscent of classic bridal muse Audrey Hepburn. On 26 May, she shared some insights with fans, including the rows of white church candles and shimmering streamers that decorated her home on the day.
A representative for the bride previously told People the ceremony was “tiny and intimate – less than 20 people”, and that the “room was so happy and full of love”. Grande certainly looks deliriously happy in a photo she shared of her new husband sweeping her up in an embrace.
The singer got engaged back in December 2020, confirming the news in an Instagram post of her unusual pearl and diamond ring. “Forever n then some,” she wrote. The couple is thought to have started dating earlier that year in January, and spent the coronavirus lockdown together.
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Originally published on Vogue.co.uk
Will big-name U.S. designers stage live fashion shows in September?
The Council of Fashion Designers of America said this week that it’s planning a mix of live and digital events for New York Fashion Week, which will run Sept. 8 through 12.
The big question is whether fashion designers are seriously considering hosting live fashion shows, and what that will entail, in terms of health and safety guidelines, room capacity and guest restrictions, socially distant seating, vaccine requirements and temperature checks, and protections for models, makeup artists’ and hairstylists’ safety. Then there’s the issue of whether international models can even enter the U.S. to walk the runways.
“With current signs of progress in the pace of vaccinations and the strategic, gradual reopening and tangible reawakening of New York City, we look forward to a strong fashion season that celebrates the best of American fashion in both physical and digital presentation format,” said Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA.
WWD conducted a spot-check of designers asking them what their plans were for September, whether they have made up their minds or whether it was too soon to make a decision, considering how unpredictable the situation may be dependent on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and whether the U.S. will have reached herd immunity.
Tom Ford, who is chairman of the CFDA, is planning for an in-person show during New York Fashion Week. While everything is still COVID-19 dependent, and the brand’s show will adhere to CDC and government guidelines, Tom Ford does plan to return to an in-person show, a spokeswoman said.
A spokeswoman for Tory Burch said the brand is also considering a live event during September’s fashion week. It’s all a work in progress with safety protocol top of mind.
Gabriela Hearst, as well, is planning a live show in New York at this time. Pyer Moss, Markarian and Jonathan Simkhai will each be holding live shows.
Ralph Lauren said it isn’t set to reveal its fall plans yet, while a spokesman for Marc Jacobs said he had nothing to share on Jacobs’ next collection presentation plans. Tommy Hilfiger is not going back on the calendar for New York Fashion Week.
”We are always looking ahead. We will announce our plans in the near future. We promise to be back soon with breakthrough, purpose and disruption,” said Tommy Hilfiger.
According to Vera Wang, “It’s too soon to say and it might need to be more of a game-time decision as we are going to have to monitor and follow health guidelines and prioritize the safety of our teams and the community.”
Mark Badgley and James Mischka, codesigners and founders of Badgley Mischka, like the idea of returning to a live show, but not until February. “Our feeling is that September is too soon but we would like to return to the runway in February in some way, shape or form,” they said via email.
Prabal Gurung is definitely planning to participate in New York Fashion Week, but hasn’t decided on the format. A spokeswoman for Veronica Beard said they haven’t confirmed the exact format, “but it will not be a live show.” A spokeswoman for Proenza Schouler said they haven’t confirmed their presentation method for their collection in September yet.
Companies such as Oscar de la Renta and Michael Kors said this week they haven’t formulated their plans yet for September’s show week that features the spring 2022 collections.
In fact, Kors is getting ready to virtually show his fall 2021 40th anniversary collection on April 20 at 9 a.m., which benefits the Actors Fund.
Several designers such as Anna Sui, Alice + Olivia and Carolina Herrera were unreachable for comment on their September plans.
As reported last September, the CFDA’s Ford renamed the show schedule “American Collections Calendar” to reflect that a growing number of American designers are showing later in the season and sometimes outside of New York, whether that be in Europe, Asia or other key markets.
David Bonnouvrier, cofounder of DNA Models, brought up the fact that many models won’t be able to enter the U.S. to walk in a live runway show.
Last season, Jason Wu was among a handful of designers to stage a live fashion show and actually held live fashion shows in both September 2020 (at Spring Studios’ rooftop) and February 2021.
In February, Wu created Mr. Wu’s General Store at 666 Broadway in New York to showcase his fall 2021 contemporary fashion collection for a limited, socially distant audience. The store featured thousands of items and nearly 50 types of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables. The food for the set was provided by The Chefs’ Warehouse and after the show, Wu donated it all to City Harvest to help feed those in need.
Backstage at Jason Wu, fall 2021.
Asked whether he plans to go live again in September, a spokeswoman for Wu said they are planning something for September but the format hasn’t been decided yet.
When asked what her plans were for September, Rebecca Minkoff, who continued to stage live “buy now, wear now” shows during the pandemic, said, “Yes, 100 percent doing a live show.”
Rebecca Minkoff’s live fashion show last September.
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Vera Wang and Pronovias are getting hitched.
The designer has struck a 10-year licensing deal with Barcelona-based Pronovias Group to manufacture, distribute and market Vera Wang Bride in its global fleet of stores and wholesale accounts, beginning in October. Vera Wang Bride is priced about 60 percent lower than Wang’s couture wedding gowns and is intended to reach a broader and international customer base.
Known for her cutting-edge designs for both the red carpet and weddings for such celebrities as Hailey Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Victoria Beckham, Wang has been one of the most influential bridal designers in the industry over the past 32 years.
“It’s very exciting. We’ve always done upper-end bridal and that’s obviously a limited audience. You’re never going to get any sizable volume when you’re doing dresses that start at $4,500 or $4,000, and go up to about $12,000,” said Wang in a telephone interview.
“Pronovias Group is one of the most respected and successful bridal companies in the world with a huge international reach. But the most important value we look for in a company when signing a licensing agreement is the ability to create a great product. Product is king: it is where it all begins. Pronovias Group understands this,” said Wang.
Amandine Ohayon, chief executive officer of Pronovias Group, added, “It has been so incredibly fulfilling to work with Vera and her team. There is true commitment from both sides toward the new Vera Wang Bride brand. Vera’s unique signature and iconic designs, together with our wide capabilities on sourcing high-quality materials and technical abilities, is leading to a unique collection that we are very proud to offer to fashion-loving brides worldwide.”
Vera Wang Bride will be at a more accessible price point than the designer’s high-end line, which has a sweet spot of $8,000. The new collection will retail from $1,600 to $4,000, with the sweet spot being between $2,000 and $3,000.
Vera Wang adjusts a Vera Wang Bride dress for a photo shoot.
“It will be an opportunity for her to speak to a completely different audience, without sacrificing the luxury and craftsmanship of the dresses,” said Ohayon, who was reached by phone in London.
Pronovias dresses brides in 105 countries through a network of 102 retail stores, including flagships in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, London, Shanghai and Barcelona and more than 4,000 points of sale. Spain is the number-one exporter of bridal fashion. Pronovias has eight freestanding stores in the U.S. Wang had never sold her bridal dresses at Pronovias, which was acquired by private equity firm BC Partners in July 2017.
This global deal represents the sixth brand for the Pronovias Group, which includes Pronovias (including Marchesa for Pronovias and Ashley Graham for Pronovias), House of St. Patrick, White One, Nicole and Ladybird. The addition of Vera Wang is viewed as a move to solidify Pronovias’ luxury position as a group and strengthen its business in the U.S. and China, as well as other areas around the globe.
For nine years, Wang had a licensing deal with David’s Bridal that ended in 2020. Wang explained that David’s is a national U.S. brand and has a certain audience that it was targeting. “I really wanted to avail myself of the archives we’ve developed over 32 years. That was really not its [David’s] business model. When the Pronovias thing came up — I’ve been talking to Pronovias on and off through the years — it is such a respected and financially successful business, and its reach is global,” said Wang, who approached Pronovias during the pandemic and she and Ohayon started discussions over Zoom.
Attracted to Pronovias’ craftsmanship, infrastructure and global penetration, Wang said, “There are areas it reaches such as Scandinavia…It didn’t even occur to me.”
Wang said her own bridal line has a solid business in Japan, where it has had stores for at least 10 years and have six doors in Japan, two of which are freestanding units. The company also has a deal in Mainland China, where it is about to open two more stores in Beijing and Shenzhen. She said she really couldn’t break into Europe, other than selling Brown’s in London. “I couldn’t break into Italy, or Spain, or France, not really….”
Wang has four freestanding bridal stores in the U.S. — in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.
She said both the Wang and Pronovias teams worked together on Zoom during the pandemic, with Wang’s team in New York, Pronovias’ team in Barcelona and their manufacturers in Asia. They designed 100 dresses, which they edited down to 85, and then the Pronovias team came to New York. “They [the dresses] are like all my children, there are so many beautiful dresses. We couldn’t have all of them. We got to the anointed 60,” said Wang.
Pronovias will offer a new Vera Wang Bride collection once a year, in addition to special occasion dresses that will be introduced in January.
Asked whether she incorporated new ideas or are all the dresses archival, Wang replied, “They’re archival, but they’re done in a new way. I think they’re done in a fresh way.”
For example, she cited the botanical dress, which was extremely challenging to do even in her brand’s couture room. “There are references to that,” she said, citing the floral motifs. She explained that because she designed 60 dresses, Pronovias can offer a range her brand can’t do when it’s designing 12 dresses for the main collection. “You will see things that I could explore maybe that I haven’t done, like more beachy dresses and things that are kind of fun, or maybe a rehearsal dinner dress.”
All of the dresses have the brand’s codes, such as the way the backs are draped.
Wang said she was blown away when the completed Vera Wang Bride dresses arrived in New York, where they did a photo shoot. “When I saw the dresses arrive, I was so excited. I looked at the dresses and thought maybe these are the first eight that arrived and they’re maybe the simple dresses. As I saw the more complex ones come in, I was amazed. I hope this continues. You know I know clothes. If I’m saying they’re really beautiful, you’ve got to believe they are,” said Wang.
But of course the question becomes whether these more accessible dresses will have a negative impact on her high-end business.
“First of all, this is not the same thing they did for David’s Bridal, which was a very different price point, where they were $700 to $1,900. David’s is an American national brand. This [Pronovias] is a really global business, with huge infrastructure. And they can get us into South America and they can get us into Scandinavia. They can get us into Europe, in a way we’ve never been able to do,” said Wang. She believes she can also be helpful to Pronovias in expanding its business in China, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand. Part of Pronovias’ strategy is also a massive launch of Vera Wang Bride in China.
“And we might be able to bring them a new client in the U.S.,” she said.
In Wang’s opinion, Pronovias has a certain look to it which is more of a glam, European style. “We’re bringing our freshness and a lightness. It won’t be the construction of what we do handmade in our sample room in New York,” she said. All of Wang’s high-end wedding gowns are manufactured in the U.S.
She plans to rename her high-end, ready-to-wear and bridal line Vera Wang Haute. The name change will enable her to still explore and grow and become more viable and creative. “In bridal, it will give me more grounds for exploration and study,” Wang said.
During bridal market weeks, Pronovias will show Vera Wang Bride. For the past five years, Wang hasn’t had fashion shows and instead has made films to showcase her ready-to-wear and bridal to express and tell a story. She designs 12 to 15 high-end bridal dresses twice a year.
For the Vera Wang Bride collection, Wang appears to have hit on all her favorite trends. “There are some gowns that are minimal, structural and architectural, some are bohemian and romantic and very deconstructed and whimsical, and then there are dresses done in incredible draping. We’re known for tulle, and there are dresses that are explosive ballerina dresses, ballgowns,” she said.
“It’s got that whimsy,” she continued. “It’s very youthful. Pronovias’ other brands are more womanly, they’re kind of sexy, va-va-voom. That’s not us. I think it’s very whimsical and also very artsy. We’re artsy. I can’t take the chances with them that I do with the Haute brand. With the Haute brand, you never knew what I’m going to do. I just finished the 10 dresses yesterday. You can see reflections of it at Pronovias. Now I have permission to go more expensive. Now I don’t have to worry about the $4,500 dress. I can go to $6,000 to $14,000. I can develop beading at a more European level,” she said.
Wang said she styled the Vera Wang Bride photographs and will be doing a lot of social media to promote the collection.
After working through the entire pandemic and having to shut down her stores twice, board them up with plywood, and then re-tag, re-press and re-merchandise all the clothing, she called it a “horrifying,” year that’s also been “hopeful.” Working on the Pronovias project has been a lot of work, but gratifying. “It’s a real new business strategy and model for us,” said Wang, who also recently launched Vera Wang x Chopin Vodka, a limited-edition collaboration.
According to Ohayon, the Vera Wang Bride dresses will be made to order. The bride comes in and tries on the dress, they take her measurements, and the gown will be made in one of the company’s factories in Barcelona, or elsewhere in Europe and Asia. “It depends where we’re sourcing the materials. The haute couture embroideries are sourced in India. We do it based on the capabilities of the different factories,” said Ohayon. For the bride, the fittings will take place in their local Pronovias stores and their wholesale partners, including wedding salons. Vera Wang Bride won’t be in every single point of sale, said Ohayon. “We want to keep the collection very premium, but it will be a significant amount,” she said.
Vera Wang Bride will be positioned in the front of the Pronovias stores on black racks. People can make an appointment, and book online, and there will be separate bookings for Vera Wang Bride. Vera Wang Bride will have its own web site, social media and content. “It’s really like a stand-alone business,” said Ohayon. The brand is also offering plus sizes and petites as well as sustainable options.
The Pronovias New York flagship at 45 East 58th Street.
Ohayon said there were three important objectives for establishing Vera Wang Bride. First, it has to be a Vera Wang collection. Second, it was very important to have instantly recognizable Vera Wang signature dresses, such as the princess-style ball gown with full tulle skirt worn by Kim Kardashian, or the strapless, super-fitted bodice with sculpted neckline and long, voluminous skirt worn by Victoria Beckham. The third one was to bring some newness. “Vera is an innovator, she wants to be ahead of the curve,” said Ohayon.
Because it’s a global deal, Ohayon said Wang “was very keen to understand what Italian brides love, and what French brides love. We told her Italian brides loved romantic, but Wang wanted to do romantic edge. Spanish girls love crepe dresses with long sleeves, but they’re making it with something in the back with a big bow or flower,” said Ohayon.
Wang is also designing accessories for Vera Wang Bride. There will be some natural flowers on the head or as a corsage and on the belts. There will be tiaras. “We have some really cool head pieces. They have a cool, rock edge to them. She’s designed some amazing gloves, too,” said Ohayon.
Discussing the state of the bridal business, Ohayon said that prior to 2020, Pronovias’ business had been flat for 10 years. She said growth had been zero percent, so one knew what to expect year in and year out. One-quarter of Pronovias’ business is done in the U.S. Currently, the company is noticing pent-up demand in countries where COVID-19 vaccinations are progressing well, such as Israel, the U.K. and the U.S. Overall, there were 60 percent fewer weddings in 2020 than 2019. Pronovias only had 5 percent of cancellations of its dresses, said Ohayon. Some brides decided to go ahead with their weddings, and others decided to postpone them.
“It’s starting to get under control. Hopefully, the second half will be very strong, and 2022 and 2023 will be great years,” said Ohayon.
She visited the U.S. earlier this month and the stores were busy because women have been coming and want to get their dress. “What is very interesting is they don’t look at the price, they really just want the dress to be on time. Second, there’s a sentiment that they’re going to treat themselves because people haven’t spent money in many months. They’ve had to reorganize their weddings, and they may not be doing 500-people weddings over three days in a secret destination. They’re downsizing a little bit their ceremony from a spending standpoint. The one thing they really think that they deserve to treat themselves is a dress,” said Ohayon.
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Fashion has turned its spotlight on politics, with designers harnessing their power to call attention to social issues.
Chanel Spring/Summer fashion show in Paris.
The time to remain apolitical or risk losing valued customers is here – and designers around the world are shouting loudly, supporting human rights, and picking political sides. Many brands want to be on what they perceive as the right side of history when it comes to politics. In the run-up to the recent US presidential election, 19 designers – including Vera Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, and Tory Burch – launched the collaborative Believe in Better collection in support of presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Designer Tory Burch wears her Believe in Better, T-shirt. Photo: Supplied
Others have been vocal about social issues such as systemic racism. When the American football player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the US national anthem at the start of his NFL games in 2016, in protest against police brutality and racial inequality, the country erupted into furious debate.
In 2018, Nike followed with an advertising campaign featuring Kaepernick with the text, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” In response, some Nike fans took to social media with videos of them burning their once-beloved kicks, and the hashtag #BoycottNike began to trend. The brand had transitioned from being not just something to wear, but a way of pledging political allegiance. Others stayed on the sidelines, waiting to see if Nike would come out on top financially. Despite an initial dip in its share price after the campaign was launched, Nike sales increased by more than 30% the following year.
Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston have been encouraging Americans to vote in the recent election.
Protests against long-simmering racial inequality in the US seems to have lit a fuse with brands, precipitated by the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in May this year. “Following the death of George Floyd, we saw that the public is not afraid to voice their intolerance toward racism and that set in motion the movements we’ve seen recently to challenge discrimination in all its forms,” says Sanjay Bhandari, chair of Kick It Out, a UK-based organization that fights discrimination in English football. “Brands have been aligning themselves with well-known figures and influencers to show support for the likes of Black Lives Matter, as a way of pledging their solidarity and commitment against racism.”
Celebrities like Vogue US Cover Star Lizzo, have been encouraging Americans to vote in the recent election.
Support through fashion is apparent in other areas of inequality, too. In 2017, after the rise of the #MeToo movement, designers around the world projected feminism and female empowerment to reflect the sentiment of the era. Actresses wore all-black at the 2018 Golden Globes Awards, Egyptian designer Rana Yousry showcased her Black Rose line at Arab fashion week that same year displaying themes of feminism, strength, and power, and Saudi designer Arwa Al Banawi dressed the Saudi women’s soccer team for the 2019 Global Goals World Cup in Copenhagen.
“Fashion reflects what’s ‘now.’ For it to have power and feel right, it has to speak to what is going on more broadly,” says Dr Rosie Findlay, course leader in fashion cultures at London College of Fashion. But sometimes, brand’s signatures are adopted by less-than-desirable demographics.
In the 90s, the signature Burberry check was associated with football hooligans in Europe, and more recently, a US far-right group appropriated a black and yellow polo shirt by Fred Perry. It’s not the first time the British brand has been commandeered by the far-right – it was a favorite of skinheads in the 60s and 70s, too. Fred Perry quickly withdrew the polo shirt from sale and released a statement disavowing its use by far-right groups, saying, “They have absolutely nothing to do with us, and we are working with our lawyers to pursue any unlawful use of our brand.”
“Some business decisions seem very driven by what is moral and ethical,” says Findlay, citing the example of French brand Maison Cléo. “It is constantly advocating for slow fashion and educating its followers about the unsustainability of the fast-fashion system.” Fashion has always been one way of uniting people, but, Bhandari says, “we need to see more from some brands in terms of their commitment.” He continues, “We also need to see them making a positive contribution to society and their local communities.” In terms of racial inequalities, brands need to be “looking inside their organizations and developing long-term plans for social inclusion and racial equality so that they foster a more inclusive environment and attract a more diverse workforce,” Bhandari says. In an age of such political extremes, it seems fashion, which moves and evolves with the times, must speak louder and be more politically brazen than ever.
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Originally published in the November 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia.