Meet Joanna August, one of our newest designers here at Bella Bridesmaid!
Starting the launch of her line and the beginning of her successful career with Bella Bridesmaid, Joanna has created some stunning gowns for bridesmaids all over. Knowing how to flatter all body types and providing her loyal followers with gorgeous color options, Joanna has made her mark! Despite her busy design schedule and plans for an amazing new collection she took some time to answer a few questions…
BB: What do you think has been the most important factor in the success of your business?
JA: While I could not have started the line without the support of my family and friends, and my husband in particular, I would say that the launching my line through the Bella Bridesmaid franchise has played a huge role in my success to date. From the moment I launched the collection, I was able to reach brides around the country rather than just locally in Los Angeles, and every bride who chose a Joanna August bridesmaid dress felt confident and comfortable doing so knowing that Bella Bridesmaid stood behind the line. Also, the women of Bella Bridesmaid are so hands-on. It has been invaluable to have their feedback and input as the company continues to grow and expand- they have been a support system of their own for me! Working with the Bella stores was the perfect way to establish myself and my brand and a large part of the reason I have the amazing following I do now, after only 2 years in business.
BB: When designing for women, specifically bridesmaids, what are your inspirations?
JA: The only time I think "bridesmaid" when I am designing is when I feel myself going over the top with details or embellishments- I can't just focus on "do I love this dress?" I have to think, "Will I love 5 of these dresses standing next to each other?" But other than that, when I design, I imagine the client at a party or on an amazing date- I try to design dresses that women are going to get excited to wear for every occasion in their lives, not just walking down the aisle. I am constantly drawing inspiration from the past- I would say reoccurring themes in all of my designs are Old Hollywood Glamour and ethereal 70's inspired silhouettes. I think all of my designs have a Vintage feel- somewhere between Gene Harlow and Farah Fawcett, with just a little Stevie Nicks thrown in for good measure!
BB: Was there a specific event or person in your life that led you to begin designing bridesmaid dresses?
Joanna's bridesmaids on her wedding day
JA: Yes! I had always been passionate about design but the idea of doing bridal did not occur to me until after a fruitless search for the perfect bridesmaids dresses for my own wedding. I had worked so hard on every other detail of the wedding, I just could not bring myself to send my best friends down the aisle in dresses they didn't love and feel comfortable in, not to mention asking them to spend money on something they would never wear again. I decided to design the dresses myself, choosing colors in line with my desired wedding aesthetic, and designs that would be timeless and wearable for any occasion. I had so much fun doing it and got such a positive response from my bridesmaids and from everyone who saw the dresses, I thought "I know there are other people who are looking for the same thing- beautiful, comfortable, fashionable dresses, but in “customizable colors" And just like that, the line was born!
Image by WireImage via Access Hollywood
BB: If you could give any famous woman, current or historical, a makeover, who would it be and how would you style them?
JA: I would love to give Jennifer Aniston a fashion makeover. She is so beautiful and elegant and has an amazing figure, but even though she always looks put together and in good taste, I wish she would have more fun with her fashion- I don't think she would know what a print was if it jumped off a clothing rack and onto her body! If I could dress Jen, I would turn her into more of a chameleon and help her find different looks to suit different moods rather than all black all the time with the occasional dose of red. I would urge her to experiment more with color and different shapes and silhouettes and not to limit herself to one style. She has access to every top designer and first pick of the runway - take advantage!
BB: What high school trend are you embarrassed to admit you followed?
JA: Well, I have to preface this by saying that I went to high school in Los Angeles, and while it may not have been exactly Beverly Hills 90210, I definitely used clothing to express myself and experimented a lot with my outfits. While my style over the years ranged from trendy to grunge to hippy to chic, you would rarely catch me going to class in jeans and at-shirt (well, maybe during the grunge phase…!). My parents were always supportive of this means of expression and put on a brave face when I decided I HAD to dye my hair blue and took me to the Army Navy surplus store when I was convinced that combat boots were the height of fashion. They were definitely thrilled when I went through my vintage/ second hand store phase and less so when I discovered designer labels, but through it all they never tried to make me conform. So back to the question, while I am not actually embarrassed by any of my style choices (they all made sense at the time, I swear it) looking back, my least favorite trend had to be the preppy, school girl/ tennis looked that ruled my junior high in 1993. Think pleated, plaid mini skirts with teeny tiny cropped round neck t-shirts, knee socks and palladiums. My friends and I always looked like a pack of clones and while this look hit my school while Britney Spears was still in the Mickey Mouse club, we would have done her proud!
BB: If you weren't a designer, what career path would you have chosen?
JA: Before I started my line, I actually worked in movies for 8 years as a film executive at studios like Revolution and Universal so I am fortunate enough to have already explored another exciting career path. Being in the entertainment industry was an amazing job and I had the opportunity to work with a lot of extremely smart, creative and passionate individuals, but at the end of the day, fashion was calling and now there is no looking back!
BB: What's your favorite dress in the collection?
JA (center) wearing her Tori dress at event with friends
JA: This is a hard one, I can't choose! I really love so many of the styles, but the ones I wear most often would have to be the Dara Long Dress, the Tori dress (named for and first worn by Tori Spelling) and a new addition to the collection, the Sarena Short dress. The two long gowns are so glamorous and ethereal- I can dress them up with a ton of costume jewelry, which I love to wear, and heels, OR, I can throw on flats and jean jacket and go on a date with my husband. The Sarena dress is so comfortable and fun and flirty- I wear out to dinner and to parties all the time or during the day with sandals.
BB: Any hints to what is in store for this Fall?
JA: Expect the same chic, feminine vintage inspired style that you have come to love from JA, but at more affordable prices! I am very excited to offer the most popular styles from my original collection in select colors for greatly reduces prices and also to introduce my new line, Ceremony by Joanna August. Ceremony by JA features 6 new body types available in long and short styles, all in chiffon and all retailing for under $250!
BB: Any advice on certain styles for different body shapes?
JA (left) in her design studio
JA: I like to think that emphasizing your favorite features will automatically detract from any "problem areas" or features you would like to minimize. If you have larger hips, emphasize your waist! If you are busty, choose a tasteful v-neck style that will allow you to wear a supportive bra to highlight your cleavage while still keeping everything in place. Flat chest? Draw attention to your arms and shoulders. I think a halter neck style can also be great for women with broader shoulders. Whatever you got, you've got to flaunt it! I find trying to hide everything under a lot of fabric often backfires.
BB: Last question Joanna! What's in your purse?
JA: Evian Water, Smith's Rose Bud Salve, Nars Matte Red Lipstick in Vesuvio, Black Balenciaga Compagnon Wallet (a 30th birthday gift from all my high school friends!), a tape measure, dog treats to bribe my puppy if he misbehaves and my iPhone.
Thank you Joanna!