News & Runway

Designer Dossier: Reem Acra

Bridal season is upon us. Set to start in earnest are countless bridal and baby showers, engagement, bachelorette parties and of course, invites to the biggest day of all: the red carpet moment of a lifetime for those of us who are not likely to grace the cover of a magazine. So, who more appropriate to profile in our Designer Dossier series than one of fashion's most beloved bridal and red carpet designers? Reem Acra's story is an interesting one that began with a mother who taught her to love textiles and clothing construction. Acra says that from an early age her mother was her biggest style influence. She has fond memories of many "happy" afternoons spent shopping with her for fabrics in her native Lebanon. Once the shopping ended, it was time to create.

Acra's career began years later while in college at American University in Beirut. A chance meeting with a fashion editor allowed the opportunity to put together her first collection, just a little over a week after the encounter. Acra was wearing a dress she'd made from her mother's dining room tablecloth to a party. When the editor showed an appreciation for the garment, the conversation turned into an offer to sponsor a collection for Acra, her first. From there, the newly minted designer made her way to FIT in New York. She also spent time studying at FIT's partner school in Paris, Esmond.

After school, Acra worked as an interior designer, proving that any career path can have multiple tributaries before we get to where we're meant to be. She reverted back to fashion and worked in Hong Kong and New York, where another profitable friendship would have her starting her own line in bridalwear. A society friend commissioned her to design her wedding dress. This one gown was such a hit, it began an internationally renowned business venture launched in 1997. Acra's designs stood out for their attention to detail, the use of the finest fabrics, and exquisite beading and embroidery. Several years later, the woman who is a perfect example of the power of relationships and networking, expanded her line to include ready-to-wear.

Today, our hottest celebrities have their own love affair with Acra's red carpet-ready dresses and gowns. Acra has an ability to incorporate luxury, not only in her dresses, but in her sportswear offerings as well. There's a richness created through the use of texture and color that few designers are able to match. Perhaps that's why in addition to having her own boutiques, she's also sold in venerated stores like Bergdorf's and Saks. As if she needed any more credibility, her dresses have graced the frames of Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta-Jones and a host of other gorgeous stars. Check out our favorite picks from her last couple of seasons. We're loving the mix of ethereal fabrics and her rock star designs for fall.