Pnina Tornai, a symbol of femininity, exquisite and effortless classic designs.
Today, I am thrilled to share with you my afternoon with Pnina Tornai. It was a pleasure to meet a lovely person and talented designer at her intimate boutique inside the Kleinfeld Flagship Store in New York City.
Many of you know her for the successful TV show, Say Yes To The Dress, where brides from all over the world visit the very exclusive Kleinfeld store in NY to buy a Pnina Tornai gown.
It was almost 10 years ago when Pnina Tornai visited Kleinfeld and presented her collection. Pnina recalls with a big smile “Well, they didn’t like it at all! It was quite a disappointment.” Despite how successful she already was in Israel as a leading designer, and what Kleinfeld had to say at that time, Pnina remembers going back home the whole way crying on the plane. Immediately, she decided to work on a new collection for America and Kleinfeld. She remembers, “The second group of dresses just did it! They made it. Very quickly we became their number one vendor. The rest is history… there is a good ending to this story.”
Pnina is always on the run, traveling back and forth from Israel to New York, working on a new wedding shoe collection, getting ready for a trunk show somewhere on the other side of the world. But when I asked Pnina about the best part of her job, she was torn between creating and working with so many brides around the world, and meeting so many people and experiencing different cultures.
I thought it was important to ask Pnina about her design process since a lot of brides might not know what is behind making a gown, and how many hours it could take to make just one wedding dress. “All my dresses are custom made and couture made… Everything is manufactured under my eye, everything is handmade, we study a pattern, we make it over and over again until it fits perfectly.”
Pnina will always find a way to make a bride look perfect for their wedding day, she says “For me the fit is not less important than the look. It’s really from the pattern making, to the sewing, to the embellishment, to sewing the lace appliqués by hand on the dresses, everything is made with love. It’s made the couture way.”
When Pnina designs a new collection, she takes into account every single body type so every bride can find herself. “The structure in my dresses mostly create the effect of a corset, even if there is not a real corset in, the fabrics that we use are very stretchy for the fitted dresses, and of course we have a lot of corsets in our dresses because that’s what we are known for, the perfect corset!”
We talked about the 2015 Pnina Tornai Collection, the Butterfly Collection. She told me that when she started sketching, she wanted dresses that would transform at certain point when the bride wears it. She remembers “I started creating one dress and from each and every dress a detachable skirt.” Little by little, she had forms of butterfly wings on the dresses, created by laser cuts and embellishments. I have to say that the transformation of her gowns, from fitted dresses with the over skirt that comes off, is a perfect analogy to the transformation of a butterfly.
Of course I had to ask for her favorite dress of the collection, which happens to be the finale dress at her runway show.”It is all laser cut by hand…It all started from me sketching the shape of a butterfly’s wings.” She walks me to see the dress displayed on a mannequin, and explains that after the drawing is laser cut, it is sewn to the dress, and that there is at least 300 hours of work on this dress! My jaw just drops.
This year on the runway the models wore shoes of the new Pnina Tornai Shoe Line. “The shoes match each and every dress of the collection” Brides can buy a pair of shoes at Kleinfeld’s and embellish them according to the dress that they have. Here is a picture of the shoes that pair the Finale dress.
Pnina has had a very successful career as a designer and has been working with brides for 24 years, so I figured that she will have a piece of advice for all my busy brides-to-be on their wedding day. She says “For the day of the wedding, I advise you to enjoy because it will never repeat itself, and if you were organized enough before the wedding and everything is ready you should have nothing on your mind but the happiness and enjoying the moment of becoming one with the love of your life…Just feel gorgeous!”
If you don’t know me you would have probably thought that my interview ended just right there. However I had to ask Pnina Tornai one more question… In case you didn’t know, she was in Celebrity MasterChef in Israel (how fun is that!) and at the end of the day I am a foodie, so I asked for a cooking tip.”Have confidence in what you do, listen to your heart and do it with your feelings. Anything you do with love it’s successful, you can’t go wrong!”