It’s the perfect way to describe an Amsale creation. Since her entrance into the bridal fashion world, the designer has left a quite an impact on the wedding industry. In this tribute, 4 gown designers share how Amsale has paved the way for them, and the legacy they are hoping to create with their own brands.
The modern wedding dress as we know it today was pretty much invented by Amsale Aberra.
Wedding dresses of the 1980s — with their puffy sleeves, oversized trains, and overdone appliqué patterns — were everything Amsale did not want in 1985 while she was planning her own wedding. Out of a need for simplicity and understated elegance, the first Amsale gown, pictured center on our cover and on the inside front covers, was born. It was her first wedding dress — her own wedding dress — and the start of the Amsale empire.
Born March 1, 1954 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Amsale had a penchant for fashion at an early age. As a child. she would make her own clothes and design outfits for her dolls.
From Addis Ababa to the picturesque mountainsides of Vermont, Amsale attended Green Mountain College and pursued a degree in Commercial Art. A year later in 1974, with the overthrow of Ethiopia’s emperor Haile Selassie, Ethiopia was in the midst of political turmoil, making it difficult for her father – a government official – to continue to pay her college tuition. She then moved to Boston, where a half sister lived, and put herself through college at Boston State College, while making fashionable outfits for her friends.
Eventually, she earned a degree in Political Science and began working at a coffee shop at Harvard University. It’s where she met her husband Neil Brown, a young Harvard University law student.
The pair later moved to New York City, where Amsale attended Fashion Institute of Technology, and would later on marry Neil Brown and go on to design her own wedding dress and transform the way wedding gowns are seen and worn today.
A year after her wedding to Neil Brown, Amsale transformed their loft apartment to her first design studio. In the beginning, everything was done in her home. That included runway presentations, consultations and fittings. By 1997 her Madison Avenue store was opened.
Currently, the Amsale empire includes the glamorous Kenneth Pool collections, the romantic Christos collections, Nouvelle Amsale — a lower tiered collection of wedding gowns — and Amsale Bridesmaids.
The iconic designer passed away at the age of 64 on April 1, 2018 from cancer and is survived by her husband Neil Brown, her father Aberra Moltot, her half sister Aster Yilma, and her daughter, Rachel Amsale Brown. She is also a board member for The Ethiopian Children’s Fund and a trustee of the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Her legacy lives on at the Amsale headquarters, with a dedicated team of hard working individuals that adore Amsale, including a new head of design and development Margo Lafontaine, and Sarah Swann, who manages design operations.
At the office, her desk, which overlooks all operations is adorned with her favorite flowers each day – fresh orchids.
Learn more about Amsale at www.amsale.com
Photography: In His Image Photography
Assistant Photography: Nana Annan
Hair: Hair by Sadiku
Hair: Glamour by Shaniqua
Makeup: Brides by Melanie B
Makeup: Juicy Looks by Abby
Earrings: Headpiece Heaven
Styling: James R. Sanders
Cinematography: Yamean Studios