Spotlight: Yes to the dress


photos courtesy Marie Cordella

by Mimi Montgomery

Marie Cordella, 33, owner and designer at Cordella Bridal, says she’s “always loved aesthetics.” The Silver Spring, Md. native was originally inspired by the trips to the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. she took every weekend with her mother while growing up. The works of Chagall, Picasso, and modernist art left a lasting effect on her: “My mom secretly infused a love of fashion that took me until my early 20s to realize.”

While studying design at Parsons and Virginia Commonwealth University, she got her hands on a vintage sewing machine and her knack for fashion clicked into place. She went on to receive a master’s in product design from N.C. State, where she held a residency in 2008 and participated in the Art2Wear fashion show. Once she decided to branch out into the world of custom bridal gowns, her fashion presence exploded: She’s been featured on a Lifetime channel show about designers, has appeared on NBC and Fox News to discuss fashion trends, and has had exhibitions at New York International Bridal Week and Charleston Fashion Week. Recently, she was one of four nationally established designers featured in the Spring Bridal Show at Charleston Fashion Week. “I would say it’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Cordella says.

Since 2013, she has been based out of her downtown studio, where she designs custom bridal gowns and couture evening gowns. She also does bridal alterations and modifications, and can pretty much turn a pre-purchased gown into whatever you please. “I can physically make anything,” she says. “I either do something or I don’t. There’s no in between. Once I commit to doing something, it’s going to be awesome.”cordella_sketch2

Her relationship with her clients is a testament to that work ethic: Cordella so far has 37 custom dresses lined up for 2016 and says she ends up becoming close friends with her clients (as well as their mothers). “There’s a lot of trust,” when designing a wedding dress, she says. And she does her best to make her brides feel as special as possible on their big day. “It’s your one wedding day. I will not go to sleep and will stay up to make sure you’re happy.”

Some of the trends she’s seeing this busy summer wedding season? Lots and lots of lace, as well as removable peplums or overskirts so brides can turn their gowns into cocktail dresses and dance worry-free at the reception. Happily ever after, indeed.

827 N. Bloodworth St.,Unit B;