There is a lot of local talent to choose from when it comes to wedding dress designers. While you may be tempted to look into famed U.S.-based designers like Vera Wang and Monique Lhuillier, Canada has some pretty fantastic offerings as well. From Ines Di Santo’s ultra feminine frocks to edgier Rita Vinieris numbers, there are plenty of dress designers worth looking into from the true north strong and free.
Here are the essential Canadian bridal designers.
Ines Di Santo
Ines Di Santo was raised in Buenos Aires, studied fashion in Argentina and Milan and now calls Toronto her home and headquarters including her flagship store in Yorkville. When it comes to dresses, she’s all about sophisticated feminine glamour. Her beautifully designed pieces often tie in intricate beading, lace and tulle layers. Her gowns have been worn on red carpets by A-listers like Angela Bassett and Laverne Cox and down the aisle by many a bride. Images: Dan Lecca
When it comes to fashion, Christopher Paunil has done it all. He’s skilled in pattern making, costume creation, teaching and - you guessed it - bridal design. He started his label in 2010 and has been wowing brides-to-be ever since. His Dundas East studio boasts dresses designed for the contemporary woman, making them anything but average. His most recent collection includes lace mini dresses, plunging halters and everything in between.
Paloma Blanca has been a Bernstein Family affair since its inception in 1937. The evening wear and bridal label was founded in Toronto by Manny Bernstein under the name Blue Bird Dress. It changed its name and vision in the late 1970’s, leaving evening wear behind to focus on bridal gowns and accessories. The dresses are timeless, with classic flattering shapes and subtle trendy additions like lace and jewelled belts.
Paloma Blanca’s sister label, Mikaella, is also worth looking into if you like the brand’s signature style but want something a little more fashion-forward and budget-friendly. Mikaella’s designs tend to err on the more modern side, taking on trends like illusion bodices and open backs. While the frocks are definitely edgier than Paloma Blanca’s range, they still hold onto tradition with their silhouettes and attention to detail.
Anais Anette was born in 2013 in Toronto, helmed by sisters Magdalena Gmyr and Karolina Keeler. Their designs go against the status quo, fusing together pre-revolution era Eastern European fashion with contemporary styles and silhouettes. The label’s gowns are aimed at the modern woman who isn’t afraid to look outside the box. Expect to see a healthy dose of lace and unique cuts.
When Lea-Ann Belter designed her now sister-in-law’s wedding dress she fell head over heels for the world of bridal gowns. Not long after she dove in head first, opening her first boutique in Yorkville. Since then she has moved around Toronto a few times, landing at Dundas and Broadview - which operates as both a shop and her production studio serving bridal boutiques across North America. Her dresses span styles, boasting everything from tight-fitting lace numbers to A-line gowns.
Kim Ironmonger has been working in the Toronto fashion scene for 30 years, making her a true style veteran. She opened her shop at the ripe age of 21 with a strong passion for beautiful frocks and no formal training. The business is now over three decades old, proving that she belongs in the bridal world. She finds inspiration everywhere, from glossy magazine pages to jetsetting to faraway lands. It is this that gives her gowns their own distinct flair. You’ll see everything from daring corset bodices to romantic mermaid gowns in her Eglinton West boutique.
Rivini and Alyne
Rivini and Alyne are the brainchildren of Rita Vineris (the latter is the more moderately priced of the two). The designer is based in T.O. and sells her gowns at top notch locations worldwide including Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay and Ashton Station, near Ottawa. Her dresses are geared toward the modern urban bride, meaning you’ll see a lot more cut-outs and embellishments than you would on traditional gowns. Her willingness to take fashion risks is what makes her stand out among designers. Images: Dan Lecca
& FOR LOVE
In the market for something truly unique? Look no further than & FOR LOVE. Its showroom flaunts dresses, jumpsuits and separates perfect for the modern bride who likes her outfits outside of the box (no poofy princess dresses here). The line is designed by Toronto resident and OCAD alum, Angel Spendlove.
Frascara is designed by Toronto-based girl bosses Francesca Mammoliti (an International Academy grad) and Cindy Fine (a Ryerson alum). Their design inspo comes from their travels abroad to fashion hotspots like London, New York and Paris. Though you won’t find any boldly coloured dresses in their roster, they’re frocks are anything but basic. From feathered capes to beaded bodices, this line has it all.
Romona Kaveza, a Lithuanian-Canadian designer, has not one but two impressive bridal lines (Romona Kaveza and Legends Romona Keveza). Her line is filled with lust-worthy pieces with intricate details like jewelled belts, embroidered flowers and lace overlays. But that’s not all. She’s also made a name for herself on the red carpet, dressing the likes of Lea Michele and Christina Hendricks. Her flagship is in New York but her gowns can be found at Kleinfeld Hudson's Bay and Bisou Bridal in Vancouver.
Montrealer turned Torontonian Catherine Langlois has been designing dresses for 15 years. Her gowns are made for all types of brides and are custom made to meet her clients’ needs. Her line features high necked lace numbers, palazzo pant sets, fairytale-esque ball gowns and everything in between.
Chris Tyrell and Jim Searle, the designers behind Hoax Couture, are well-versed in the world of fashion. Since teaming up in the 80’s the Toronto duo has created looks for theatrical performances, skating teams, cocktail parties, celebs and - of course - weddings. Their custom bridal designs include everything from dazzling jewel-toned gowns to traditional white and ivory pieces. They also make suits and children’s clothing, meaning they could dress your entire wedding party flawlessly.
Something Blue is one of the crown jewels of Vancouver and available at select bridal boutiques worldwide. All the frocks have been designed and made in the west coast city since its debut nearly two decades ago, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon. You won’t find many bold colours or plunging necklines here, the gowns are ultra feminine, simple and elegant.
Gaby Bayona, the youngest designer on this list, broke into the world of bridal design at the ripe age of 18. Five years later, her line Truvelle is now fully established. She creates expertly crafted, effortless looking gowns for contemporary brides out of her hometown, Vancouver. Fom traditional white dresses to blush-hued lace numbers, you’ll find it all in her flagship Vancouver store and at retailers across Canada and around the world. Images: Blush Wedding Photography