Behind the Label
(from left) Modern Trousseau's "Astor" gown; owner-designer Callie Tein; the "Dylan" gown. Photographs courtesy of Modern Trousseau
March 5, 2012
Behind the Label
Meet Modern Trousseau owner-designer Callie Tein
INTERVIEW BY Melissa Bigner
Part of the excitement of Charleston Fashion Week® comes when national and local talent converge in our very own backyard. But as anyone familiar with Charleston’s bridal boutiques knows, that’s nothing new in our white gown world. Buzzed about talents are birthed here (hello, LulaKate, and howdy there, Carol Hannah Whitfield), and big-name lines have long been carried in our shops. Last year marked a first, though, when nationally renowned Modern Trousseau opened a flagship shop on Upper King. The brand’s owner-designer, Callie Tein, made her first appearance at the 2011 Charleston Weddings Spring Bridal Show (SBS), a ringing endorsement for the event’s importance here and further afield. This year, spring finds Callie tackling two big bridal events nearly simultaneously—our March 24th show and New York’s Bridal Week, which hits in April—but she managed to take a little time to share her thoughts on all things wedding with us. Enjoy the read, click here for her full write-up, here for tickets to the show, and here to read about the other designers we’re hosting.
Charleston Weddings: What’s the energy like for your New York Bridal Week shows?
Callie Tein: Intense—it makes the whole event seem to flash by so quickly.
CW: How is your show for the Charleston Weddings Spring Bridal Show different and/or similar?
CT: The vibe in Charleston is a bit more relaxed. Much of my stress is relieved by the extremely professional team that Charleston provides. However, my focus on attending to the details and the anxious moments getting models in front of an audience apply whether I’m preparing for New York or Charleston.
CW: Why did you choose Charleston as the place for your flagship store? Did you first find the city via trunk shows, or how?
CT: We fell in love with Charleston, and felt the fit was right for our first flagship store. We had previously hosted trunk shows in the area and had great success with the brides who came to see us.
CW: Your current ad campaign is so uplifting. It feels “so Charleston” with the playfulness and romance, but it was shot closer to your home base in Connecticut, right? How did you come up with the vibe, and why do you think it translates to our region so well?
CT: The current campaign was photographed on the shoreline of Rhode Island, a couple hours from our Connecticut headquarters. Our designs our proudly made and designed with love in the USA, and we are always looking for a fresh, modern look that reflects our home-grown brides. This shoreline theme evokes our Charleston bride, as well as the wit and style inherent in the women of this area.
CW: How do you choose models for your national ad campaigns, New York shows, and Charleston Weddings Spring Bridal Show? What do you look for?
CT: Choosing models isn’t an easy task. We select girls who have a fresh look, that are fun to work with, and who can relax in front of the camera. It’s much harder than it looks. We are currently featuring real Modern Trousseau brides in our ad campaigns, because the joy and enthusiasm that exudes from our clients in their gowns just can’t be replicated in a formal fashion shoot.
CW: Do you feel like your models are “relatable” to real-life brides?
CT: We never select models that are too thin. My dresses need real curves to fill them out, just like the gorgeous real brides who wear Modern Trousseau.
CW: Do you ever get to attend shows yourself?
CT: I never have the time to attend other shows, but it would be fun to relax and just watch.
CW: I’ve heard you have real-life brides take 15 measurements to ensure their gowns are ultra-custom fit. Why is this important to you?
CT: You’ll never catch a Modern Trousseau bride tugging and pulling at her gown on her wedding day. We want our clients to be comfortable for the most important day of her life, and nothing cramps a girl’s style more than a poorly fitted dress. We always take extra measurements to ensure a perfect fit, and take great pride in the quality and finish of each gown.
CW: Aside from the materials—fabric, trim, lace—your gowns are entirely made here in the States, a rarity. Why is this important to you, and what’s the advantage for the bride?
CT: We are proud to be one of the few remaining couture houses left in the U.S. And because our gowns are made here, we can cut them one at a time and adjust for each individual bride. As a result, the dress needs fewer alterations, and has a better overall fit.
CW: Can you tell readers about the scale of your design house?
CT: We currently send out 2,600 bridal and evening-wear gowns per year, and our annual collections present 24 new bridal styles and 10 new evening-wear styles. In addition, the Modern Trousseau staff has grown to 24.
CW: You’ve mentioned in this issue what people can expect from your latest line. Are there any styling details and ideas we should keep an eye out for?
CT: We really wanted to have fun with this collection. There is a lot of texture and a combination of fabrics. The overall spirit is soft and ethereal, so we styled gowns with long veils, soft ribbons, and delicate flower details.
CW: What’s the most fun part of being where you are in your career, as an established, nationally renowned designer?
CT: I love hearing about weddings from previous brides, and how everybody loved her dress and couldn’t stop talking about it. It gives me immense satisfaction to be a part of someone’s day and to make them truly happy.
CW: How do you maintain the inspiration?
CT: I’m constantly dreaming up new gown designs — in fact, my head is crowed with ideas. It’s wonderful when I finally see these dreams come to fruition, and this keeps me inspired.
CW: How might/can readers meet you? (When might you be in the Charleston shop on this trip or throughout the year?)
CT: I travel to stores to meet my brides all year. The website event calendar lists our bridal trunk shows across the country. We recommend brides call their local Modern Trousseau vendors to learn more.
And a few silly questions…
CW: Do you ever get to “play tourist” when you visit here?
CT: I love being a tourist, and the weather is usually fabulous for long walks to shop the chic Charleston boutiques and people watch from outdoor cafés.
CW: Does your family join you when you visit Charleston?
CT: My daughter usually travels with me to Charleston, and enjoys shopping on King Street. I’m sure that’s where you’ll find us when we’re not attending other shows during Charleston Fashion Week.
To read more on Callie and about her pending show under the tents in Marion Square March 24, click here.