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Photo by Jay Paul
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Photo by Jay Paul
At the back of her 1,800-square-foot bridal boutique, Susan Sorbello keeps three custom-designed silk wedding dresses tucked within the store's couture collections.
The Alençon lace gown, full-skirted Shantung silk pick-up dress and bias-cut 1930s-inpired seersucker silk frock were created by Sorbello, a London-born fashion designer who moved to Virginia 18 years ago.
"We think of ourselves as high-fashion," Sorbello says of Sealed With a Kiss Bridal Salon . The Charlottesville-based boutique opened a second location in November at Towne Center West. In addition to designer-name gowns and bridal accessories, Sorbello carries custom-made dresses and offers alterations.
"When I purchase other collections, I'm looking for good design, quality fabrics and quality workmanship in sewing [the dress] together," she says of the gowns she carries by designers such as Augusta Jones, Casablanca and Modern Trousseau.
As a student at Reading College, Sorbello found inspiration in the new wave fashion movement and English designer Vivienne Westwood.
"I grew up in that era, and when I was starting work, there was a lot of the punk influence around," the 51-year-old shop owner says.
While the dresses in her boutique range from minimalist summer dresses to bejeweled ball gowns, Sorbello says the punk-era influence is seeing a resurgence in bridal wear, with Mad Max-inspired dresses and accessories experiencing particular popularity.
"I'm discovering Richmond wants a different look than Charlottesville," she says. "A lot more bling and excitement." Sorbello is responding by offering new-to-Richmond designers including Faragé, a line from France that carries gowns with feather appliques, rhinestones and silver threading.
"Brides are so fun to design for," Sorbello says. "It's a time when you can let your imagination go wherever you want it to."