No matter what the bridal magazines, TLC, or, hell, even your besties will try to tell you, finding the wedding dress is not for the faint of heart. Over the course of your search (as this bride-to-be has discovered), you will bravely descend into button-tufted, chandelier-spangled oblivion, spend sleepless nights doomscrolling through seas of charmeuse and chiffon, and willingly strip down to your Spanx in the middle of a bustling sample sale only to come away with some serious back sweat and very cold feet.
Bridal designer Danielle Frankel Hirsch knows the feeling. In fact, ever since she started her eponymous label Danielle Frankel in Manhattan’s Garment District six years ago, she has catered to brides who demand more of their wedding dresses, via diaphanous caped gowns, gossamer corset tops, and tradition-bucking, pearl-studded fishnet minis. Vogue has christened her the “anti-bridezilla wedding dress designer.”
With a booming business, a wave of post-pandemic nuptials, and a woefully cramped studio space, Frankel Hirsch knew it was time to rethink the ritual of finding a wedding gown, right down to the omnipresent hockey-puck-shaped pedestal. She just needed the right interior designer. “Everyone I’ve collaborated with has been a bride,” she tells ELLE DECOR. “It’s important to me that that person has had that [lackluster] experience and understands why it needs to change.”
That partner wound up being interior designer Augusta Hoffman, who herself wore a sweeping Danielle Frankel coat and lace top to her Hudson Valley wedding in 2021. “That connection was really meaningful to me,” Hoffman says. It also meant that she understood Frankel Hirsch’s design DNA from the project’s inception: “Normally with my clients, it can take me months to figure out their aesthetic. So I was able to walk in and understand, ‘Okay, I know who you are.’ ”
“It was all very kismet-y,” Frankel Hirsch adds.
Working alongside local architect Corey M. Schneider, Hoffman aimed to transform Frankel Hirsch’s newly expanded 4,200-square-foot Garment District space into a hybrid bridal showroom, with the addition of two separate salons, a lounge, a fully functioning atelier, and back-of-house spaces. Though the studio would mark Hoffman’s first commercial project, Frankel Hirsch made it clear that she wanted the spaces to feel like an elegant home—a foil to the “bride factory” vibe of many larger shops.
As soon as the elevator floors part onto the hushed 14th floor of the 1920s building, visitors know this is no ordinary wedding dress boutique. Soft, sage lime-washed walls envelop a reception area featuring a 1960s French oak desk and a pair of glowing sconces. “We really wanted it to feel like you’re transitioning out of a Midtown street into a more elevated space,” Hoffman says.
From here, the betrothed and one guest of her choice (“We’ve set boundaries,” Frankel Hirsch jokes) are ushered into an airy lounge, with ethereal Danielle Frankel dresses floating on custom carved squiggly racks dominating one end of the room, and a stylish seating area beckoning guests to take a load off on the other side. Here, Hoffman—whose interiors are known for their chic, muted palette—played with color and scale in contrast to the showroom’s straitlaced concrete floors and exposed ceilings. An enormous lime green 1960s Murano glass chandelier hovers above a sofa upholstered in pale celadon mohair, a custom onyx cocktail table, and a pair of 1930s Dutch oak lounge chairs reupholstered in a Black Forest–inspired tapestry fabric. “We used more organic tones, but nothing neutral at all,” Hoffman says. “It leans a little weird, which we were going for.”
The room is bisected by a horizontal vintage display case that wouldn’t look out of place at a natural history museum. But rather than butterflies and fossils, this one holds bridal relics from Frankel Hirsch’s family, including a photograph of her mother, her grandmother’s wedding cake topper, and a delicate silver belt that belonged to her great-grandmother. “The best part about this whole thing is that each piece has a story of its own,” the dress designer says.
It’s a symbolic touch, considering that clients will begin their own family narratives in two adjacent private consultation and fitting rooms, each featuring plush carpet in shades of green and goldenrod, low-slung sofas, a mélange of carefully chosen antiques, and even more framed family mementos. “One thing we talked about over and over again is the experience of standing in front of a mirror and what the space looks like behind you and how it photographs,” Hoffman explains. White, therefore, was intentionally avoided so that the dresses, whether admired in a massive mirror or exquisitely hung on the wooden racks, would stand out. “We don’t have the pedestal, we don’t have all these gross things that you’d typically find, so for us it was about how we showed what the bride’s wearing,” Frankel Hirsch adds.
Should the bride need alterations, she only need walk down the hall to the Danielle Frankel Atelier, where the real magic happens. On a recent afternoon in this brightly lit, all-white studio, a group of expert seamstresses worked to bring the gowns to life. A custom, light-as-air bustier came together at one workbench, while a worker pinched together the finest of knife pleats on a skirt. In an adjacent antechamber and office, a billowing Josef Hoffmann light fixture hangs above a small conference table. The rest of the room is dominated by floor-to-ceiling foam boards covered in images of sumptuous bridal gowns and swatches of silks and lace. As it turns out, creativity is a two-way street. Also on Frankel Hirsch’s mood boards these days? “I am very much loving interiors as inspiration,” she says, “probably because I miss that part of the job.”
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