In 2017, after working for designer Vera Wang for three years, Danielle Frankel launched her own line of atelier wedding dresses that focus on hand-sewn garments and pay attention to flowing and intricate details. It soon became a sought-after company, dressing celebrities such as Zoë Kravitz, Julia Garner, and Alexandra Daddario for their weddings.
Finally, he designed the outfit that President Biden’s granddaughter Naomi Biden wore to her wedding rehearsal and after-dinner Friday. Ms. Biden will marry Peter Neal in the South Garden of the White House later today.
“This is a national wedding that most Americans will see part of on their TV or phone,” said Ms. Frankel. “How the White House will hold this wedding will be a global conversation. I don’t know if there will be anyone else in my life. Knowing that I am a part of it feels historic and important.
Ms. Frankel, 33, has released six collections in the past five years, created an e-commerce component, created a line of pajamas and a jewelry line, and collaborated with Manolo Blahnik on a shoe collection. She also expanded her studio in New York City’s apparel district, covering the entire floor she.
We talked to Ms. Frankel from her atelier about working with Ms. Biden, her process of creating her pre-wedding look, and her love for handmade clothing. (As always, our conversation has been edited and summarized.)
Naomi Biden’s rehearsal outfit consists of four different parts. Why make different pieces?
Since the rehearsal part is in the White House garden, followed by dinner, we wanted a transitive look. There is a top bustier; tailored jacket and trousers made of the same fabric; and pleated tulle cape covered with lace flowers.
The bustier is a cotton sole with a graduated bone and tulle drape finish. The cape is made of a honeycomb fabric called Malfroy, a French tulle that drapes softly and has a flowing movement—almost like water if water is a fabric. Each flower is made using three types of lace with hand appliqués on tulle, and then the floral motif is pleated so that the pleat is caught. The trousers and jacket are made of Italian silk wool. The great thing about this fabric is that it has two sides so we can use both the matte side that looks like wool and the shiny side that looks like silk.
The transition from sketches to Miss Biden’s finale took six monthsin the studio He sleeps on October 28. Can you tell us the process?
After completing the sketches, we created Naomi’s measurements and body on a mannequin, which is part of our custom, handmade process. We basically recreate that person’s figure. Then we created the base and interior of the garment using bone, glass and wire. We placed the fabric, which was poured into the mold of the mannequin, cut and patterned on it.
Over the next few months, a team of people personally made the final garments, which included fitting and adjustments. The final steps were small but important design elements like the closed buttons on the back of the bustier or an additional petite veil to practice opening it up for her future husband. I made the drape myself because I’m very particular about pleating and I don’t make it look so perfect.
How many people from your studio worked on the outfit?
Seven: studio and operations manager; mold maker responsible for proper fit; cutter; sewing team consisting of lace applique specialist and basting specialist; and myself.
How does a first look, like at a rehearsal dinner, differ from other outfits a bride would wear?
The first look sets a visual tone for the wedding. And it’s the look that will ignite the wedding events. It also serves as an introduction to the wearer and reflects who he or she is. It’s a high time to have fun because you’re not doing the actual ceremony; rather a rehearsal. You can play with the trends more and there is a sense of comfort and coziness as you are not sitting in your wedding dress.
And in the case of Ms. Biden?
It’s a White House wedding, so there’s an homage to the sanctity of the wedding as well as to the White House and our country. We wanted to pay homage to all of these components while continuing to showcase who Naomi is with a respectful yet sophisticated touch of femininity.
He is young and cool. Wearing a cloak and tulle is reminiscent of wearing a dress, but it has an ethereal quality that creates something grand and a sense of importance in the moment. For the rehearsal dinner, instead of the cloak, he’ll get the more sewn-in, clean-looking jacket. We wanted to create a different moment and transition into the evening.
How important was it to you to be a part of this experience?
A non-political historical, cultural and celebratory event at the White House. The White House is the closest thing to the cultural glue that brings everyone together. It’s a great honor as a designer to dress someone in that family for an important event in their life. It brings together the world of wedding and fashion in one story that I am proud to be a part of.
How is your aesthetic as a designer different from others?
We are spiritual but adapted. It is a marriage of both of these qualities. I’m very silhouette oriented, which means my designs are sculptural. I am inspired by architecture, pottery and 3D art. I’m also a very tactile designer, so I like textures – fuzzy, pokey, spiky.
You feel happy when you touch something foreign and visually pleasing. It causes an emotion in people, and I like to portray it. It’s very visual when you look at what we’ve done for Naomi. I want guests to feel like they want to touch what we’ve created. It’s part of the touch experience. I create not only for the bride, but also for the guests.
Handmade clothing is considered a dying art. Why are you still mastering them?
We still believe in the art, technique, quality and visual harmony created by an artisanal brand like ours. It’s the handcrafted, tactile details that make these types of garments gorgeous. Offering a mix of handmade, hand-sewn, and machine-sewn garments creates a higher end product. If not, the garment tends to have a flat.