Our Interview with Annie Sokoloff of Anna Elyse

Creating a dress that suits a bride’s special day is no easy task, but Annie Sokoloff seems to have found a way to appease every bride’s wedding wishes. Anna Elyse Collections, which include bridal, bridesmaid and flower girls, has the option of custom color matching, along with various skirt and bodice options to outfit all your bridesmaids. Annie has been constantly inspired since beginning her flower girl collection by everything from color to high-end designers, such as Chanel. We adore Anna Elyse dresses here at Bella, so we were excited to sit down to ask Annie a few question and get to know her a little more!

BB: What do you think has been the most important factor in the success of your business?

A: Without a doubt the most important factor has been that it never occurred to me that I would fail. While there are ups and downs in every business, particularly with a start-up, to have that constant and consistent goal and belief that success will occur has been the defining factor.

BB: When designing for women, specifically bridesmaids, what are your inspirations?

A: Usually, it’s color and a color palette. Sometimes it’s a particular designer’s collection. I am often inspired by Oscar de la Renta’s designs. It’s obvious he loves dressing women. Our Spring 2012 Collection was inspired by a recent trip to Paris with my husband and the styles I saw there in small boutiques… and of course, Chanel!

BB: Was there a specific event or person in your life that led you to begin designing bridesmaid dresses?

A: Funnily enough, it was not something I intended to do. I started out with a Flower Girl Collection. We were so often asked to match the color of the bridesmaids dresses and make a flower girl dress or sash in a similar color, that I decided not to compete and just do our own line.

Image by Getty Images via Wall Street Journal

BB: If you could give any famous woman a makeover, who would she be and how would you style her?

A: Hillary Rodham Clinton. She is a very attractive and intelligent woman who is (no offense to Hillary) hiding in the same pantsuit design in different colors. I think she’d look great in suits or dresses with jackets but more in the Jackie Kennedy era style - classic but with a European flair. Not a lot of detail, but enough to highlight her best features. Then she should pick a color that looks great on her and use that as her primary color palette. Personally, I think jewel tones would look great. Finally, shorter hair similar to what she wore as First Lady or, if she’d like to keep it long, swept up in a chignon, which she has done a bit lately.

BB: What high school trends are you embarrassed to admit you followed?

A: Probably the little teeny bows on clips… those were so popular in the 60’s, particularly when worn above the bangs with the hair poofed up behind it. Oh my goodness, what was I thinking?

BB: If you weren't a designer, what career path would you have chosen?

A: One of two things: I would have either completed my original path toward a law degree, (Constitutional Law was my favorite) moved to Washington, D.C. and become more involved in politics… hmm – a woman President? Or I would have become a kindergarten teacher. Such fun! Either would have been great options.

Cap Sleeve with Pencil skirt

BB: What is your favorite dress in your collection?

A: In our bridesmaid collection, I love the Cap Sleeve with the Pencil skirt and the dual colored Obi sash... very classic, very stylish and just so very 60’s Mad Men. In our new “Bridal Chic” Collection, the Savannah and the Juliet… both just classic and elegant.

BB: Advice for certain styles for different body shapes?

A: One of the things we cater to here at Anna Elyse is the variety of body types possible in a bridal party. Our Sweetheart neckline looks good on just about everyone. If the gal is hippy, stay away from the Slender and the Pencil. Good choices for everyone are the Audrey skirt – a classic A-line and the new Casey, lightly pleated but not poofy. For the more well-endowed of the group, the Deep V is a fabulous choice for those wanting straps or the Surplice for a more full figure. The Cap Sleeve does not really look good on a slight figure on top, but does look just fabulous on a nicely proportioned figure.

BB: What are you carrying in your purse?

A: Ha, too much! Let’s see – it’s a Louis Vuitton Neverfull so that should tell you something. Wallet, cell phone, too many pens, paperclips (somehow I always end up with a handful), breath mints, cosmetic bag, coupons for the dry cleaners, small notepad for my constant “notes to self”, keys, sunglasses, protein bar and business cards. How’s that?

Thank you Annie!

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