by Olivia Gussoni
Ines Di Santo is the essence of loveliness. I met her at the downtown Neiman Marcus bridal salon last Saturday morning to meet the designer and preview her new collection. The chic designer donned an elegant lace black coat which she paired with tights and lace-up heels. Ines spoke from the heart during our interview, revealing that her faith in love drives her to design bridal gowns. Italian-born, she has trained with talented fashion experts and tends to her work with a delicate hand. Brides flock to her gowns for her stunning couture-quality Swarovski crystals, intricate beadwork, feminine lace, and gorgeous silhouettes. Keep reading to see what makes her craft so unique.
Tell me about how you started designing.
Change is an evolution for me. I started very simple—I really wanted to have a boutique. Luckily, God gave me much more than that. I started my journey in Buenos Aires with the team from Christian Dior. Later, I went to Italy to study with Antonio Cavasso because I wanted to do tailoring. Eventually, I wound up at ESMA, the school in Paris, but my goal was to teach fashion in Buenos Aires.
Destiny brought me to a different country. When I started working in Buenos Aires, it was a difficult time for Argentina so I had to move to Canada. At that point, I asked God to help me. Truly, I said, “God, please, help me.” I only wanted to have a boutique. I knew I could not teach in Canada because of my English. So, that’s how I started—I started my business with ten dollars and a machine I found in the garbage. Somehow everything just worked out.
How did studying in Milan, Argentina, and Paris influence your aesthetic?
Well, I am Italian born, so I have inherent Italian qualities, but I also work with a Spanish flair and a French flair. I have those three distinctions, but you can see all my dresses look very European. They change with every collection, but the main influence depends on what inspires me at that time. Overall, my experiences in France, Italy, Spain, and Argentina contribute to who I am.
What would you say that brides appreciate most about your dresses? The plunging backs are stunning.
I think they appreciate everything. I’m here today thanks to all the brides who buy my dresses. My brand is different—I have very sexy dresses and very refined dresses. I use a lot of Italian silk and French laces, and I think people appreciate that. We use high quality materials and pay attention to style. Style is very important.
How do you find inspiration?
I get inspired every moment. Even walking in the street, I get inspired. I am inspired today with you. I can picture you in a very soft and elegant dress because you are delicate like a flower.
What advice do you have for brides for finding the “perfect” gown?
I always say to them, “You have to be yourself.” That special day you have to show yourself to the person you are marrying. Your future husband should see who you are; you should not be another person that day.
Your future husband loves you the way you are. Sometimes a woman can lose sight of that. The dress is not just a dress—it communicates more than that. It’s a personality and you have to be who you are all the time. As a designer, I am here to make a dream come true. I want to make this dream for them because women reminisce about their wedding. There is a history behind a dress.
You have designed for countless celebrities. Tell me about the experience of designing for a celebrity or someone specific.
The experience is beautiful because I have the opportunity to design something beautiful. I want to make dreams come true, so the experience is always wonderful. I can feel their happiness. I can see when I have made someone’s dream come true.
For me, every bride is a celebrity. On her special day, every bride has to think she is at the Oscars because her wedding day is the most important day. It’s the beginning of a new life. I get very inspired to create and make that day memorable. It’s a dream to have a family. In many aspects, dreams come true at weddings.
Do you have a favorite dress in this collection?
I cannot have a favorite because every dress is my baby. All of them are my babies. Plus, with a new collection nuances set them apart.
I saw your recent Patisserie-inspired collection. Do you travel often? Did you go back to Paris to design that series?
I travel, yes, but not as often as I used to. Still, I go to Paris, Italy, and Argentina every year. The people there are very important to me. I’ve never been a place that wasn’t beautiful. Every place I go has a distinct kind of beauty.
What is the design process like? How do you find your materials?
Well, I buy some materials from Italy and from France, but essentially I buy from all over the world. We create our own beading though. It’s our own art work. Remember, for me, this is my hobby, not my work.
What do you love about designing for the Dallas bride?
This is my first time in Dallas and in Neiman Marcus, but I see beautiful girls everywhere. There are so many dresses in this collection that would look beautiful on them.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?
Fashion is love. Love stays forever. We can live without many things, but we cannot live without love. I believe in love; I believe in family; and I believe in making people happy.