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Meet the designer behind Naomi Biden’s pre-wedding look

Meet the designer behind Naomi Biden’s pre-wedding look

Meet the designer behind Naomi Biden’s pre-wedding look

In 2017, after working for designer Vera Wang for three years, Danielle Frankel debuted her own atelier line of bridal wear, with a focus on hand-sewn garments and a discerning eye for draping and intricate details. It soon became an in-demand house, dressing celebrities like Zoë Kravitz, Julia Garner and Alexandra Daddario for their weddings.

She recently designed the outfit Naomi Biden, President Biden’s granddaughter, wore on Friday to her wedding rehearsal and the dinner that followed. Mrs. Biden is scheduled to marry Peter Neal later today on the South Lawn of the White House.

“This is a national wedding that most Americans will see on their televisions or phones,” Ms. Frankel said. “How the White House will conduct this wedding will be a global conversation. I don’t know if there will be another one in my life. To know that I was a part of that is historic and significant.”

In the past five years, Ms. Frankel, 33, has released six collections, established an e-commerce component, created pajamas and a jewelry line and collaborated on a shoe collection with Manolo Blahnik. She also expanded it studio in New York’s garment district, taking up an entire floor.

We spoke with Ms. Frankel from her atelier about working with Ms. Biden, the process of creating her pre-wedding look, and her love of handmade garments. (As always, our conversation is edited and condensed.)

We wanted a transitional look because the rehearsal part is on the White House lawn and then she goes to dinner. There is the ultimate bustier; tailored jacket and trousers, which are made of the same material; and a pleated tulle robe covered in lace flowers.

The bustier is a cotton base with arranged boning and a tulle overlay. The cape is made from a honeycomb fabric called Malfroy, which is a French tulle that has a drapey, soft and fluid movement – almost like water if water were a fabric. Each flower is made using three types of lace hand-applied to the tulle and then pleated so that the flower motif is caught in the pleat. Pants and jacket are made of Italian silk wool. The wonderful thing about this fabric is that it has two faces so we can use both the matte side, which reads like wool, and the shiny side, which looks like silk.

After finalizing the sketches, we built Naomi’s measurements and body on the mannequin, which is part of our handmade process. We basically recreate the figure of that person. We then built the foundation and interior of the garment, including bones, cups and wire. On top of that we put the fabric that was shaped on the doll, cut and colored.

Over the next few months, a team of people created the final outfit, which included personal grooming and customization. The final touches were small but important design elements, like covered buttons on the back of the bust or adding a tiny veil so she could practice being revealed by her future husband. I did the draping myself because I’m very specific when it comes to pleating and it doesn’t look too perfect.

Seventh: studio and operations manager; template creator, who is responsible for proper fit; cutter; the sewing team, which consisted of a lace applique specialist and an adhesive specialist; and myself.

The first look sets the visual tone for the wedding. And it is the appearance that will cause wedding events. It is also an introduction to the person who wears the clothes and reflects who they are. It’s a sublime party moment because you’re not doing an actual ceremony; rather it is a rehearsal. You can play more with trends and feel light and comfortable because you are not sitting in a wedding dress.

This is a White House wedding, so there is respect for the White House and our country, but also for the sanctity of the wedding. We wanted to honor all of those components while still showing who Naomi is, respectful yet sophisticated with a touch of femininity.

She is young and cool. Wearing a cape and tulle is reminiscent of wearing a dress, but has an ethereal quality that creates something grand and a sense of importance in that moment. For the rehearsal dinner, she’ll swap the cape for a jacket, which is more tailored, commanding a clean look. We wanted to create a different moment and move into the evening.

It is a historic, cultural and celebratory event that takes place at the White House that is not political. The White House is the closest thing we have to the cultural glue that holds everything together. Dressing someone from that family for a significant event in their life is a great honor as a designer. And it brings together the world of weddings and fashion into one story, which I am proud to be a part of.

We are ethereal but attuned. It is a combination of both these qualities. I’m very silhouette driven, so that means my designs are sculptural. I am inspired by architecture, pottery and 3-D art. I’m also a very tactile designer, so I love textures — fuzzy, sharp, spiky.

You are happy when you touch something foreign and visually pleasing. It evokes emotion in people, and I like to stimulate that. When you look at what we did for Naomi, it’s very visual. I want guests to feel like they want to touch what we’ve created. It’s part of the tactile experience. I create not only for the bride but also for the guests.

We still believe in the artistry, technique, quality and visual fit of an artisanal brand like ours. Handcrafted, tactile details make these types of garments spectacular. Offering a mix of handmade, hand-stitched and machine-stitched clothing creates a more elevated product. If not, the garment tends to be flat.



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