Known far and wide for their one-of-a-kind designs and seriously outstanding customer service, New Zealand label Rue De Seine has maintained its status as the go-to for bohemian brides-to-be since launching their debut collection in 2012. Designer Michele Corty has graced us year after year with unique and stunning bridal wear, not to mention a touch of Parisian flair – proving early on they were a brand worth watching. 2013 saw Rue De Seine expand to the U.S. and Australian markets respectively, taking the bridal fashion world by storm – succeeding their initial collection with surefire victories such as ‘La Boheme’, ‘Young Love’ and most recently ‘Love Spell’ for the 2016/17 season.
Never one to rest on their laurels, Michele and her team are switching things up with their brand-spanking new 2017/18 collection. Aimed at the nontraditional, carefree bride with a certain je ne sais quoi, ‘Moonlight Magic’ stays true to their bohemian roots but with a touch of disco and just the right amount of Rock’n’Roll. Given we’re such big fans of the brand, it was only natural we jump a plane to New Zealand (along with photographer Janneke Storm and makeup artist Connor Adams) to catch up with Michele at her Auckland studio, have a chat, and hand-pick some of our fave new designs to share with you in print– and now right here, right now.
Tell us a little about your background… I studied Fashion Design in Florence, Italy and finished my studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Some of my favourite learning though, was from my mother, the most fashionable woman I know. I remember she used to pick me up from school in heeled boots, ruffled dresses, and giant 70’s glasses. My friends thought she was a movie star. Those moments inspired me to experiment with my own personal style and then to create. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What inspired you to start your own bridal label? I had spent 7 years creating ready-to-wear in Paris and loved seeing my creations for the every day, but after making my own wedding gown, I knew it was the next step in my career. I instantly felt inspired by the fabrics and loved being able to create a gown with more of my own style. The dress was romantic, bold, and I was able to dance all night. I was comfortable, but also felt so special. I want our brides to feel the same way I did that day. I hope that I can bring a more relaxed, yet fashion-forward approach to bridal. Our girls are looking for a gown that fits their own unique style.
Let’s settle this once and for all…how do you pronounce Rue De Seine?!! Lol! I love this question! ROO-DAH-SEN. A lot of people have started calling us Rue.
Where does the name come from? This was the street I lived on and where I married the love of my life. The neighbourhood still portrays that effortless bohemian style that is the inspiration behind the brand.
Where are your offices based now? We are based in Auckland, New Zealand. We design, create and manufacture everything in this beautiful part of the world. I am super proud of that and feel that it is one of our biggest accomplishments. I still can’t believe how lucky I am to work with the most talented team on the island.
Raised in Chicago, trained in Italy, lived in Paris… what led you to New Zealand? My partner and I are nomads. We both left our countries to explore, experience, and to live a different life. When it was time for our next journey, we decided to leave Europe and move to my partner’s home, New Zealand. The beaches, the people, and culture were exactly what we needed at that moment. I will always miss the hustle and bustle of Paris, but could not be happier arriving at the studio with a bit of sea salt in my hair.
What does a typical day in the Rue De Seine studio look like? The marvellous mayhem started by meetings with every division in our office and ending with the design team finally finding some quiet creative time to work on the new range. Fabric is flying, pins are everywhere, and Bowie is blasting of course.
How has your work evolved since you began? Every season we try to push ourselves and industry boundaries. When we started, we had five people working out of a tiny studio (that we shared!) and today a team of 60 talented seamstresses and designers make Rue De Seine possible. Our Production Director Warren thankfully never says “not possible” and loves creating new, exciting pieces as much as I do. Designing and creating as a team has become the biggest and best evolution.
Tell us some more about the whole production process… We design our own fabrics and work closely with different manufacturers to create our vision for the season. Before creating my own wedding dress, I travelled around France looking for lace factories and artisans who worked with some of the large design houses in Paris. It was fascinating to see where everything was made and to source pieces for my own gown. Still today, I work with the same people for the Rue de Seine collection and have scouted incredible craftsmen to create some of our hand-embroidered fabrics that make up 90% of our current range. Supporting these artisans means the world to me and I love making something different for our brides.
Do you have a favourite fabric to work with? Such a difficult question! I am currently obsessed with burn-out velvet. I love the way this fabric shimmers in different light and the super soft texture is a dream to have brush against your skin. My team has also created the most beautiful pattern, so it has become difficult not to use it. There are so many new amazing fabrics in “Moonlight Magic” that I hope our brides will love as much as we do.
Who is the “Rue De Seine bride” and how would you describe her? The Rue De Seine bride definitely dances to the beat of her own drum. She is looking for something unique, flattering, and super romantic. When I take the collection on the road, our brides and I are so happy to have found each other.
We want to know EVERYTHING about the new Moonlight Magic collection. Spill… ‘Moonlight Magic’ is pure bohemian luxe, inspired by disco, glitter rock, and a whole lotta love. The intricate beading and hand embroideries might be some of my favourites this season!
When will Moonlight Magic be hitting stores in Australia and New Zealand? Our fabulous production team is working hard to get ‘Moonlight Magic’ in stores in September to The Bridal Atelier in Sydney and Melbourne and two new stockists, The Sphere Collective on the Sunshine Coast and The Bride Lab in Adelaide. We have been working with Erin from The Bridal Atelier since the beginning and adore that her team understands the modern bride and equally love that the TBA boutiques are always perfectly styled! We are so excited to be present in Australia and with such great boutiques. New Zealand brides can try the gowns on at our Newtown boutique less than 15 mins from the Auckland CBD.
Any hotel or cafe recommendations for brides visiting Auckland? Hotel De Brett is a great city location if you are wanting to be amongst it all and if you are looking for peace, Oyster Inn Waiheke Island is my favourite place to relax and eat. You truly can’t go wrong in Auckland for food. It is such an amazing culinary city!
Name one thing brides-to-be can’t leave town with out doing… Trying on every scent at Lonely Hearts, eating roasted broccoli from Burger Burger, and riding the ferry to Waiheke at sunset.
What are your three fave shopping destinations in Auckland? Newmarket / Ponsonby / and Britomart is where you will find the best local designers, opp shops, and international brands. If it is raining, I can literally lock myself in a local mall for days.
We’re sure it’s like choosing your favourite child, but can you name three designs from the new collection you think will be popular with our readers? Aussie and Kiwi brides have such a unique style. If I had to pick a gown for each type of bride, I would feel confident that we have all our girls covered this season. Our gorgeous country bride would look amazing in the ‘Poppy’ gown. Poppy’s hand-corded lace and dramatic skirt would be the dreamiest in a large barn or outdoor setting. The drama of this gown would definitely hold its own in the great outdoors. For our urban girls, we have created a few modern bohemian styles that would be perfection in any city landscape. My top pick for a city wedding would be the ‘Aria Violet’. The simplicity of this crepe gown is modern, while the tassels give it a soft bohemian vibe. And for our coastal babes, ‘Bondi Bella’ is definitely my top pick. The star embroidered georgette skirt and crochet bodice is ideal for some sand and sun.
Dress shopping can be tough. Do you have some advice for brides about to embark on the hunt for ‘the one’… When looking for the perfect gown, try on the unexpected. It will be love or hate, but at least you can tick off those styles that are constantly popping up in your Instagram feed.
If you were to have a ‘wedding re-do’, what would your gown look like today? I was hoping you would ask me this! The ‘Dakota’ gown from Love Spell or ‘Moonlight Valentina’ from the new range. I am still waiting for my hubby to ask me to renew our vows… hint… hint.
CONTRIBUTING VENDORS Photographer Janneke Storm Production Hello May Hair & Makeup Connor Adams Model Devon, 62 Models With thanks to Michele and Lauren from Rue De Seine for letting us crash your office for the day.