Randy Fenoli’s interview with Zach Shumate; Co-Founder, Editor-In-Chief of Ostentology

A Morning with Randy

This weekend, Randy Fenoli from TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” came to Cincinnati. He was at Bridal and Formal in Reading, taking appointments with local brides and bringing an extra dash of perfect to the dress of their dreams! The first thing you notice about Randy is when he walks into a room, the whole space brightens. It’s not hard to see that he truly loves his work. His “come as you are” personality is a breath of fresh air to everyone around him.

All pictures by Ryan Seminara.

Ryan and I arrived at Bridal and Formal around 9:45, and were greeted by my beautiful aunt Maura, who showed us around. If you’ve never been to the Reading Bridal District, it’s a trip you need to make. But more specifically, you need to visit Bridal and Formal. It is the largest bridal boutique in the entire country, and they have the best selection of couture and custom gowns I have ever seen. It seems as if the store goes on forever, and there isn’t a corner in the building that isn’t supremely stocked with all things bridal.

Randy arrived a short while later, and he was kind enough to sit down with me and answer some questions! Well, I sat. He stood. He doesn’t like to be still for too long, and with all he has going on, its not a surprise!

You’re from Southern Illinois, and you were born on a cattle farm. When did you first get the itch for fashion, and to get off the farm?

Well I wanted to get off the farm when I was five. I ran away first when I was five, and I ran away five times after that. When I was 16 I succeeded, and they finally let me go. I have to say I hated the farm, and I hated the cows. I did not want to be there. But it was beautiful, and it taught me a lot of great work ethic. My parents were great at telling me you can do whatever you set your mind to.

You learned to sew when you were 9 years old, how did you learn at such a young age?

No one really taught me how to sew, my mother actually told me not to touch her sewing machine, good fabrics, or scissors. She couldn’t sew a hem on a terricloth towel. I could not understand why, it looked so easy to me! So she went to work one day, and I got out a pattern that had Marlo Thomas on the front. (I’m kind of dating myself!) I laid it out, and made her a dress. I ironed it, cleaned it, and hung it on the door frame. She said ‘Where did this dress come from?’ and I told her I made it. She wore it to work the next day, and came home with a skirt pattern, and asked me to sew her a skirt. So that’s how my career in fashion began!

In your position as Fashion Director of Kleinfeld NY, what are your favorite aspects of the job?

Working with the brides! But more specifically, getting to work with someone who has never been told they’re beautiful. Putting them in a dress, doing the head piece and veil, and letting them see how beautiful they really are is so rewarding. I also love getting to hear all the heartwarming stories. As a matter of fact, on Friday a bride found a dress that was about $2,000 outside of her price point. Her mother, sister, and brother, all went to the back of the store and each put $800 on their credit card and told the bride the dress was $2,000 less than it was marked. The bride went home with the dress she truly wanted, and things like that are my favorite part of what I do.

What are your least favorite aspects?

Being in 6 places at once!

You’re a two time winner of the DEBI (Design Excellence in the Bridal Industry) award, do you design your own gowns anymore?

I don’t, because when somebody goes out as a rep for a collection, they’re always selling the bride something. So you have the rep from Monique [Lhullier] selling Monique, the rep from Vera Wang selling Vera Wang, I’m not selling anything. I work for the bride. So she can trust me. I’m more of a stylist, and I like being in that position. I’m going to tell her the truth because I don’t care if she spends $1,000 or $100,000.

Who is your favorite couture bridal/evening wear designer?

I’d have to say [Carolina] Herrera.  Their collections are absolute genius. One of their collections was based on paintings. There was Monet, de Gaulle, Van Gogh, and Manet. And then the next season they based it off of powerful women like Georgia O’Keefe, and Virginia Woolf. Their collections are very focused, and over the top brilliant.

You’ve got a new book coming out on November 1st, It’s All About the Dress, would you like to take a moment to tell us about that?

Well first of all, let me say that I wrote the book. I’m very excited about that because I don’t usually read or write. (Ha!) I started out with a ghost writer, but she wasn’t really capturing my voice so I took on the project myself. I’m most proud of the fact that I used only real brides in my book. Women in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and even 60’s. I used girls from a size 2, to size 24. No models. Every women can be beautiful on their wedding day, and I wanted to show them that. I also talk about tattoos in the book. Every other wedding book will tell you to cover up the tattoo on your wedding day. I don’t have tattoos. So I ask the girl why she got the tattoo, and if it means something to them, then why cover it up? On your wedding day you should show who you truly are. I believe everyone should promote who they are, no matter their size, shape, weight, age, whatever.

Sitting down to chat with Randy was such a pleasure, he is one of the nicest people you will ever have the privilege of meeting. Thanks to Tina Minshall and my Aunt Maura for giving us the opportunity to sit down with Randy and pick his brain!

For all your evening wear, or Bridal needs visit Bridal and Formal at 300 W. Benson Street, Cincinati, OH 45215. You can also call them at 513.821.6622.

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