Photography: Tim Melideo
Voted one of the “Coolest Bridal Boutiques” by Lucky, Lovely Bridal Shop is a luxuriously cozy style haven for brides-to-be. The original store is in NYC, but model and vintage-shop owner Merrill Melideo recently opened the store’s West Coast counterpart. We had the chance to interview Merrill about Lovely Los Angeles’s sweet vintage vibe, upcoming bridal trends, and how to tell whether a dress is “the one.”
What inspired you to open Lovely Bridal Shop LA?
I worked at Lovely in New York City, and when the owner, Lanie List, mentioned that she wanted to open a Los Angeles location, I jumped at the chance to open and manage it for her! I loved the aesthetic and philosophy of Lovely from the moment I stepped in to the NYC shop, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it in any way that I could. When I was dress shopping in LA for my wedding almost three years ago, there wasn’t anything like this in the area. I feel really great about being able to bring independent designers to the forefront and showcasing beautiful gowns with great price points.
What do you enjoy most about working with brides?
I think every girl that gets married deals with some level of post-wedding depression. You spend so much time on perfecting the details of your wedding and making decisions on flowers and colors and cake flavors — and then it’s over in the blink of an eye! I love being able to relive that planning stage again and again with each bride that walks in. From the romantic proposal stories to the choice of colors for the bridesmaid dresses, I get to genuinely share in the excitement and the eagerness that comes with being engaged. And then I also get to hear the latest trends and cool ideas, which make me dream about what my wedding would be like if my husband and I were to do it all over again!
We always hear stories of a bride knowing a dress is “the one” as soon as she slips into it. How well are you in tune with your clients’ love for a gown?
We spend an hour with each of our brides, and during that appointment she can try on up to 7 or 8 dresses. I think we reach a level of complete comfort and trust with these girls. While a lot of brides wear their hearts on their sleeves and straight-out tell us whether they love it or not, more often it’s just a subtle facial expression or body language that lets us know how she’s feeling. I love that moment where everyone in the room simultaneously gasps and you see the smile spreading across the bride’s face. It’s so cliché, but sometimes when you know, you just know.
What was your inspiration for Lovely’s interior design?
In New York, our shop is set up in a Brownstone building, so it has a cozy, home-like atmosphere. We definitely wanted to carry that intimate feeling over to our Los Angeles location, so we set up our fitting rooms to be private salons and filled them with beautiful furniture and antique mirrors. Our aesthetic is very flirty and fun with a bit of an edge, so we have peachy pink walls juxtaposed with dark steel industrial fixtures, crystal chandeliers clustered above a vintage Persian rug, and an antique pine armoire filled with soft feminine accessories. We sourced a lot of our pieces from Found Rentals to really give our space a homey, welcoming feel. Lovely is a bridal shop that feels like your best friend. You’ll feel cozy and at home, play dress up with our bridal stylists, and leave feeling like you had the best time and bought the best dress. We know the experience AND the dress should both be Lovely.
How do you select the dresses and accessories your shop carries? Do you have any current favorites?
Twice a year we attend the Bridal Market in New York to see the new lines from our current designers, as well as collections from up-and-coming designers. While we do carry classic styles and silhouettes, we are always looking for something fresh and unexpected, something as unique as the brides themselves. We stay in tune with what trends are popping up in the wedding world and in the fashion world so that we can be as knowledgeable as possible when helping a modern bride find her dream dress. While we find it hard to have favorites (just like children, I guess!), we love Ivy & Aster. They have a knack for taking ready-to-wear trends and incorporating them into stylish gowns that feel fresh yet remain incredibly timeless.
Which bridal trends are you most excited about for spring and summer 2012?
It’s so fun and refreshing to see all of the new ways that a bride can make something her own and break away from the mold. One of my favorite trends that’s making its way into bridal is color! I’m a sucker for a blush gown, an ombre effect, or even a pop of neon with a belt or necklace. Another great trend for this year as girls are moving away from strapless gowns is the illusion neckline. This way you can still have that flattering sweetheart shape, but you get sheer, barely-there coverage that looks so soft and elegant. I also love ruffles; whether a dress has tiered organza layers or a sweet, scalloped lace ruffle at the neckline, it’s girly and flirty — and who doesn’t love that!?
How would you describe Lovely Bridal Shop in three words?
Cool, romantic, and…Lovely, of course!
Hair & Makeup: Aubrey Marie