An Interview with Charles Bunstine
Nitsa’s: What was your inspiration for your newest collection?
Charles: It is indeed rare for me that these collections developed over months of moments of inspiration ever emanating from a single point. This is our forty-first collection. While I appreciate all the work and ideas of the past, I can’t consider them without wanting them to be better and their point of view to be more fresh.
The reality of this work is that my inspiration comes from a constant stream of input. Depending upon the blend and timing, things become points of light that focus my attention, and I fold them into the volume of work that constitutes the brand.
Working with lace these past years, I have learned more and have better appreciated the art and craftsmanship that I discover in our mills. While their product possesses its own unique beauty, it is bound within its small frame and repeat. We deconstruct it to its beautiful elements and refabricate them to embolden line and drama. We give this dimensionally flat product additional dimensions and introduce air and movement. We mix it amongst the colors that we layer it upon or under. We highlight it; we drape it to give it life.
We have a history of use of rare lace in very individual ways; here, we hope to continue and improve.
With this work, my mind couldn’t escape the luxurious lines of forties Hollywood. Whether soft or hard, they were forever fluid and elegant. This sense is a constant through our work with duchess satin, four-ply silk, silk charmeuse, superfine wool crepe, garza, and lace. Lengthening the line and making it more angular was a sincere effort in this work.
Nitsa’s: Do you have a gown that is your favorite or one you are absolutely in love with?
Charles: I never have favorite pieces of work. Some I believe I executed better than others, but they are all expressions of individual ideas or moods. They are designed and developed with a client in mind. Favorite might be best replaced with the idea of successful . . . successful is when my vision of the design marries perfectly to the client for whom we make it. I can design the garment, but only with the client can I experience this magic.
Nitsa’s: Do you see a geographical distinction between bridal styles worn in the south versus in the north?
Charles: In the United States, for the most part, our population has lost its regional specificity. With so much relocation and population shifts, culture and character that was historically rooted in region has faded to a great degree. It is wonderful when a client enriches her view of fashion with this dimension of history and culture, but it is now more the exception than the rule.
Nitsa’s: What is the best part about designing bridal?
Charles: I don’t start off thinking of designing a wedding gown; I think of designing a beautiful gown that complements my client. The best part of how I am able to do it is afforded by our couture make. Whatever I dream up, we can make for every client as I dreamed it. As we make each gown for each client to her measurements, I can make sure that the design finds the lines of her body, and through that collaboration the design is a success.
Recognizing that I am designing a gown for a feeling imagined, not just such an important event, defines the discipline I must employ in defining the design and perfecting it. Designing for such an event allows and requires a higher level of drama and execution. Basically, eliminating color from design which is key to nearly all other design increases the challenge.
Finding success in this demanding environment is satisfying, and the best part is when I satisfy a client’s imagination.
Nitsa’s: When coming to trunk shows, what is your favorite part when meeting with a bride?
Charles: I am always nervous.
Brides show me consideration for being there, but I doubt most understand that I am simply there to show them my work and, should they like it, begin a relationship with them to satisfy their dream of how they would feel on their wedding day.
When someone selects my work, I then begin my work for them. While they buy my work through a retailer, I am dedicated to delivering to them their imagination to the absolute full extent of my company’s capability. For the majority of clients, they don’t get to experience the fit or finish of the gown in the sample they select the gown from. My favorite part is knowing that we will far exceed the experience they have when they select our work. I know we will surprise them with our dedication to design, quality, and fit, and most importantly, them.