Designer Specializes in Wedding Belles
Galia Lahav has designed wedding dresses for celebrities like Britney Spears, Taraji P. Henson, Jennifer Lopez and Olivia Munn. In November, the entire bridal party for tennis star Serena Williams wore her creations.
And from Dec. 8-10, she was at her Los Angeles flagship store on La Brea Avenue, selling gowns from her brand new collection.
The Tel Aviv-based designer — whose signature creations can range from $5,000 to $15,000 per dress and are sold all over the world — visited the city to meet with 100 brides and help each choose her dress for the big day.
“The feeling is great. I’m very excited,” she said afterward in a phone interview from Israel, describing these interactions. “Once the bride puts on the dress, [she cries]. The excitement is huge. It gives me great satisfaction because I see how I fulfilled their dream.”
Designing clothing is in Lahav’s genes. Born in modern-day Belarus, she came from a family of seamstresses and became involved in the trade at a young age, also teaching art classes in her neighborhood. When she got married 49 years ago to her high school sweetheart, Nathan, she designed her dress.
In 1985, Lahav opened up shop in Ashdod, selling custom-made ivory lace appliques. She said she initially designed evening gowns and casual eveningwear and then transitioned into wedding dresses.
“I was one of the first that designed handmade [clothes] for young women [using special fabrics]. [This was] something that they didn’t have back then.”
Now, in her Tel Aviv studio, Lahav employs more than 100 people to design, cut, sew, bead and market her creations, which are sold in stores in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe, Asia and Canada.
Brides can find the dresses in retailers like Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Little White Dress in Denver, and Boca Raton Bridal in Boca Raton, Fla. The L.A. store was the first flagship store to open; her other permanent locations are in New York City, Tel Aviv and Hamburg, Germany.
It typically takes 120 hours to craft each couture gown, and many of the dresses include lace from Italy and France.
Lahav is inspired by the work of Valentino, Vera Wang, Chanel and Versace, as well as “some of the young talents of Balmain and Gucci, mainly for inspiration and innovation-wise,” said Roni-Avia Kotler, a spokesperson for Lahav. “[It’s highly inspiring] how they perform in this dynamic age of transformation, in the fashion industry and struggling economy.”
Kotler said that Lahav and her team see their designs as trendy and modern but with a clear, classic feel.
“We always look for the best way to combine silhouettes and fabrics that are classic with up-to-date attributes.”
In the future, Kotler said the plan is to get Lahav’s dresses placed in more stores around the globe as well as expand their evening gown e-commerce store. They are also going to open more flagship stores, and according to Lahav, they will be the only Israelis in an upcoming haute couture fashion show in Paris.
It’s a particular niche that Lahav has a real passion for, Kotler said.
“It’s a business that gets you real close with your costumers and you can get really personal, because it’s couture and handmade. So by creating custom designs, you get to meet your brides and walk them through a very special and romantic event in their lives.”
That was certainly appreciated by Val Vogt, one of Williams’ bridesmaids. She was quoted by Vogue magazine as saying Lahav “talked to all of us and just kind of let us have creative control as to what dress fit our personality.”
Lahav said that she wanted to come to L.A. not only to showcase her designs, but to see her clients face-to-face.
“It’s important for them to meet with the designer,” she said. “There are many brides who wanted special things and [to make] their dreams come true.”