The CultureMap Interview
At Stanley Korshak's recent bridal couture and cocktail fete, we sat down with Romona Keveza, the New York-based luxury bridal and evening gown designer. She has styled Angelina Jolie, Lea Michelle, Christina Hendericks and — even more daring — has created thousands of gowns for anxious brides. After watching her designs float by at the fashion show in the Crescent Hotel, we found a quiet place to chat in Korshak's Bridal Salon.
CultureMap: What made you take such a bold step in starting your business 12 years ago?
Romona Keveza: I was working in retail but also made clothing of my own. I made a black velvet gown, and a very VIP client wanted that dress done it white silk. I originally said no, because satin is very delicate. But when I was offered $10,000, I said, yes.
I realized I could do this. For the first nine years, I focused on bridal. Then, white turned into red when Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman requested red gowns.
CM: What is it like designing for brides-to-be and high-profile clients?
RK: For me it's about making women feel beautiful. I was so touched when Angelina Jolie wanted one of my gowns to wear the the premier of In the Land of Blood and Honey, the first feature film she directed. She chose me; even the most beautiful woman in the world needed reassurance.
[Jolie] told me, "I feel beautiful," when she tried that gown on. And that's what this is all about — giving women confidence in a vulnerable state. Her reaction and the reactions of many others are how I know this is what I'm supposed to do. I'm a messenger just helping make dreams come true.
CM: Tell us one of the most memorable moments in your career as a designer.
RK: I was at my store, and I heard a girl crying in the dressing room. I brought her a box of tissues, but the crying didn't stop. So I knocked on the door to ask if she was okay. She and her friend came out and looked in the mirror. The girl wearing the dress was still in tears.
She said that her mother had passed away, so I only assumed she had wished her mother could be there to share that moment. But the girl told me that her mother was a fashion designer and that she had sketched out that exact dress — the one she was wearing — for her daughter to wear on her wedding day. It was meant to be. It was a very powerful moment.
CM: How would you describe what you do as a designer?
RK: I create memories for someone. And if I can continue to do that, I'm always doing something positive.
CM: What advice would you give brides-to-be when choosing a gown?
RK: It's really simple. Finding the right dress is like finding the right guy. It has to have all the check marks, but, more important, it has to feel right. She must have that magical moment.