"It’s beautiful," says bride-to-be Haifa Snobar standing in front of her reflection at the Oscar de la Renta studio.
“I’m speechless.” The 26-year-old PR executive has just flown in with her mother Naheel, her now sister-in-law, Basma Abu Ghazaleh, and friend Hala Abu Eid Al Fahim from Saudi Arabia, where she works for the Middle Eastern division of the American fashion house, for a final fitting with creative director Peter Copping. She had an audience of 450 this past weekend when she wed Mohammed Abu Ghazaleh, in northern France.
The dress, a snow-white princess style featuring hand-cut floral petals with a star effect made from taffeta and organza, took 30 people more than 1,500 hours to complete. “I want the train to be like this the whole time, I need a flutterer!” she says jokingly, gliding across the floor as several design assistants follow along to arrange the dream dress behind her. “My little princess!” exclaims Basma, pulling out her cellphone to take the first snaps.
“I think it’s important for brides to feel comfortable in their dress,” says Copping, looking on. “So we went for something delicate and light.” Given that the ceremony is set to take place at the Château de Voisins, a turn-of-the-century mansion just outside of Paris, there was a subtle sense of grandeur to the design, or as Copping put it, “drama with enough room for movement.” It’s then that the designer focuses in on the neckline. “Maybe just a couple of flowers,” he says, noting that the sheer neckline is a nod to Arabic tradition, where the groom presents his bride with a necklace. Snobar nods her head, beams and agrees with him just as several belt options are brought over.
The winner is a thin white strip accented with the same hand-done flowers as Snobar’s dress. “We looked at lots of shapes of flowers,” says Copping. “She really liked the tiny, meticulous, and artisanal quality of this particular flower.” With the belt in place, everyone gazes, mouths agape. Copping jokes, “Take her out for a good hamburger!” Adds the mother of the bride, “I tell her to eat dessert!” And while the young bride looks embarrassed, she cannot help but twirl once Copping has placed it around her slim waist.
With the fitting nearly over, Snobar spies her mother’s dress in a corner near the fitting room. “We reworked the embroidery swatch for her and it features very oversize flowers compared to what Haifa has,” says Copping. The resulting dress is fuchsia with an abstract floral motif scrawled across the hem in matching hammered bullion. Her bridesmaids’ looks are just as elegant. “She’s one of eight friends wearing Oscar. They’re all in ball gowns,” says Snobar of her colleague friend. “I wanted them to be a little runway all their own.”
Snobar still has a few hours in New York before jetting off with her friends to an undisclosed tropical mini-vacation and is on a mission to find shoes. “I don’t like platforms,” she says matter-of-factly. Whatever the heel, with this dress she’s already putting her best foot forward.