(This article was originally featured in the Munaluchi Spring/Summer 2010 Edition.)
As he enters his bridal atelier each day, Mark Ingram is first greeted by the wall…a wall dressed with a medley of small to medium sized, square and rectangular shaped black frames, each holding black & white vintage to present-day photos paying homage to his family tree…his family history. This wall is a constant daily reminder of where he comes from, and must be somewhat responsible for his calm and humble nature. Mark Ingram owns the most chic and stylish bridal Atelier Manhattan has to offer, with the most elegant and classy of gowns from designers such as Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, and Oscar de la Renta to name a few. The ambience in the salon is as calm and soothing as the color scheme of pastel blues and greens. In our interview, Mark Ingram gives insight into his start in the bridal industry, as well as tips for today's brides.
How did you get your start in the bridal industry?When I was a child I spent a lot of time with my grandparents at home in Harlem on 137th St. opposite from A&E Zion Church….I used to look out the window at weddings every Saturday. I was fascinated by brides and grooms and weddings in general. But it wasn't until much later when my sister got married in 1994, that I actually got my feet wet. I helped her plan her wedding. Her wedding became our [the family's] wedding and we had a blast doing it. We shopped every weekend.. I styled her, I made her veil myself with a comb, some tulle and flowers. I hand beaded her Bergdorf Goodman shoes.That wedding was the impetus that got me started...My first job offer was from Amsale Bridal, and it took off from there.
What makes Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier different from other salons?I've worked very hard to create a calm and sophisticated environment. It's high energy but low stress. I wanted it to feel welcoming and warm, like a home. I wanted it to be sophisticated. A bride can shop privately for a dress. She also has the option to show friends, or she can stay in her own room and discuss with her consultant quietly and privately. Brides are making a big decision so I want them to be comfortable and feel relaxed. She is a very sophisticated woman who is into fashion. She's not coming here for the average dress. She has a very specific taste level that is a high fashion taste level.
What are some upcoming trends are you seeing with bridal gowns?The unexpected. Brides are moving away from being traditional in terms of style. They are responding to texture and finish details and also fabrics with textures like organza and taffeta. They're responding to volume again - big skirts, but lightweight.
Are more and more brides purchasing more than one gown?Yes, I do see a lot of brides purchasing more than one gown. The trend was full fledge 2007, early 2008. Almost every other bride was shopping for two dresses here. The recession hit NY and my salon a little bit later, but we're going back to that slowly again.
What's the most popular gown in your salon?There isn't really a popular one. Every designer has a popular gown. Vera Wang has a dress called Diana and another called Eliza that are very popular right now. The two combined are somewhat like Chelsea Clinton’s dress. On the other end of the spectrum, Monique Lhuillier's most popular is a two piece beaded bustier with a textural soft satin skirt. Its called "Magical" and it really is magical.
What are some of the biggest mistakes brides make when picking a gown?They get caught up in the whole excitement. It’s important to do your research before shopping for a wedding dress. You need to have awedding date and venue finalized and have a budget in place. It allows you to choose the right dress. You can find [a gown] you fall in love with but find out you cant afford it or that it’s not really right for the venue, so come prepared with your research. Be honest with yourself. What is your body type like? What are your best features? What do you want to focus on and highlight with the dress? And what’s your comfort level? Being prepared and being real about yourself is a good way to start.
Visit www.bridalatelier.com to schedule an appointment. For updates on bridal trunk shows and up to date information on the Atelier, follow Mark Ingram on twitter @MarkIngramBride. Happy Planning!