For many people, the search for wedding day outfits doesn’t stop with just a bridal dress. You might want a fun reception outfit or a post-wedding day ensemble, if you’re continuing the festivities. That is to say, a bride needs options surrounding her big day. This is where Nadia Manjarrez comes in. The designer just debuted her namesake label Nadia Manjarrez Studio Bridal’s Fall 2022 collection, and the crux of her ethos is that a wedding day look should seamlessly transition the bride from a ceremony to reception.
“Every dress is different, but for example, one dress has a long [fringe] train. You can decide to buy the look as is or, if you decide you like the style, but want it in a shorter length, simply take off the train and remove any excess details,” Manjarrez says to TZR. “You can make your own gown, it’s customizable in that way. I felt that there was a need for this, especially in 2020 when everyone’s wedding plans were changing and you needed a versatile dress that could be adapted for any situation.” A bride-to-be can, essentially, buy one look and wear it multiple ways during her wedding weekend.
The Teya Dress With A Removable Train
Ask Manjarrez how she launched her own bridal brand, and the answer is that everything came together rather serendipitously. Over the last decade, she lived and worked in New York City for labels like Bibhu Mohapatra, Badgley Mischka, and Marchesa — she helped launch its Notte Bridal line — when familial circumstances brought her back home to Mexico in January 2020. There, six friends commissioned her to create their bridal gowns, kickstarting what would be her fledgling brand.
“[Having my own brand] was always the end goal. I just didn't know how to start,” she shares. “I recently lost my father to COVID, which is the reason why I decided this is the year we need to do everything because life is short.”
But, getting to this place required dexterity early on. After putting in their requests, the global shutdown put her friends’ wedding dress orders on pause. Manjarrez and her seamstress started to craft face masks and donate them to hospitals and doctors. Later on, the doctors offered to buy the masks, which, in turn, helped to financially keep Manjarrez’s business afloat. Once production was able to kick off a year later, she assembled a team of seven — an all-women team based in Monterrey, Mexico — to get the collection started (in addition to making her friends’ requested bridal looks).
Her first-ever bridal collection consists of 14 looks — a mix of wedding gowns and dresses along with a top and pants pairing. The inspiration behind the lineup was inspired by Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing porcelain with metal, often gold or silver. The broken pieces are thought to be more beautiful for having been broken. This concept spoke to Manjarrez, who had lost her father, and witnessed her mother losing the love of her life. As an ode to her mom, Manjarrez designed the Yaya Gown — an Italian crepe dress with a dramatic poppy beaded, detachable train. (The poppies symbolize regeneration and are also her mom’s favorite flower.)
The garments’ size range from 2 to 22 and you can expect to spend anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for a full look. For those who are seeking a custom-made piece, Manjarrez will be able to create your dream outfit from scratch as well.
Because pieces in the collection had to be adaptable — if you take away a detail, the dress still has to look amazing — construction and fabrication were crucial to the design process. Manjarrez shares that the team went back and forth on figuring out what materials and techniques to use so that when a dress is transformed, it can still retain its original look. (Hidden zippers, for instance, are key to adding and removing extra pieces like a train and sleeves.) In terms of fabrication, Manjarrez, who studied fashion and textile design, reveals many of the pieces in the collection are made of silk, along with the incorporation of intricate beading, organza details, and French lace.
The Esther Dress With Detachable Sleeves & Train
“I feel like we worked on this collection for the last six months, and [the] dresses didn’t look like dresses until the last few weeks. Because there's so much, 'Oh, this doesn't work. Never mind, let’s try this,’” she says. “I feel like we’ve been able to accomplish everything because [the people on our team] come from such different backgrounds and they’re each able to bring something to the table.” The looks in the debut collection were named after people on Manjarrez’s team and those close to her.
Her now 12-person team is composed of all women and for Manjarrez, an important part of her ethos as a designer is to create local jobs within Mexico and start a dialogue of shared fashion knowledge within the community. (All the pieces are created in-house in Mexico while fabrics are sourced abroad from places like Europe, India, and Taiwan.)
“The fashion industry in Mexico is still a baby that’s growing right now. There’s so much that I learned in New York City, from working in ateliers, which could easily be applied here,” she shares. “I want to be able to offer experiences, either as an internship or as work, to other girls who have graduated from fashion [schools in Mexico]. Also, there are a lot of skilled seamstresses in Mexico and I want them to have the experience of working for a fashion brand.”
Manjarrez’s nimble crew is a medley of women with all different skill sets and who all have had diverse careers. A few of the women are seamstresses by trade while others worked at restaurants or were at-home manicurists before joining the team. “I had a taco truck and did clothing repairs at home. We closed the taco truck during the pandemic and I needed to generate an income for my home [so I joined the team],” Lupita Jaimes Sedano, one of Manjarrez’s seamstresses, tells TZR via email.
Yuridiana Barraza Verduzco, who is in charge of packaging, says, “I started babysitting Nadia’s nephew, but with the pandemic, I could no longer take care of him. Nadia then offered me to help her with the little details, like cutting elastics for the face masks she was donating. I loved that at the studio there is always a good vibe. You can feel the good energy.”
This positive and educational work environment might appear too utopian to fashion cynics, but make no mistake, there are plenty of challenges, too, the group has had to overcome. For one, Manjarrez said because everyone has a different level of training, there was a learning curve to get on the same page. Communication and feedback are key to having everyone on the team feel heard and respected.
For Manjarrez, launching her brand in her native country signals that she has come full circle. She is able to finally share and pass down all the fashion industry knowledge she’s accumulated from her years abroad back to her community. And because she knows how uncertain life can be, she intends to help brides-to-be overcome at least one potential hurdle on their big day — their wedding day look(s) — with her namesake label.
See more from Manjarrez’s debut bridal collection, below.