Spotlight on: Christos Dovas

Celebrated designer Christos Dovas is your first stop for a celebration in unforgettable style. Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with him to discuss how Greek origins formed a great New York talent.

 

QUESTION: You’ve been involved in garment design and construction since an early age. Can you tell us about those beginnings?

CHRISTOS DOVAS: I believe I was born artistic – The fact that I grew up with a father who was a shoe designer was a coincidence of destiny. I first learned to design from picking up the leather scraps from the floor, and making small wearable pieces. As a child, I watched my father buy raw materials and deal with market professionals – This taught me about business. watching my father work at the bench itself taught me how to pull the grow and straighten the fabric. I would say I was most fortunate to see my dad working original designs from the 50’s 60’s 70’s in leather skins, fabric and laces.

QUESTION: When we think of your work, what images would you like first to pop into our heads?  Light? Air? The sea? How has your Greek heritage informed you design?

CHRISTOS DOVAS:  I am a dreamer. I want my designs to conjure up the imagery of books, sculpture and paintings– secret stories all through the medium of my pencils and threads. It sounds funny but I get inspired while in New York; blending my past work experience and the city’s active lifestyle results in contemporary, artful pieces. My creations are influenced by pure poetry, clarity and symbolism. I love to design, create, and ultimately make women feel beautiful.

QUESTION: What thrills you most about Greece? And what do you find most exciting about New York?

CHRISTOS DOVAS: In Greece, it is exciting to be surrounded by time. History and Art have left marks with the Ancient Greek artifacts that inspire me daily. In contrast, New York’s contemporary presence is alive with a melting pot of different cultures.

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QUESTION: You’re an amazing colorist! When you use color, it feels at once bold and yet gently nuanced. Are there colors have you not been using that you are becoming more and more interested in?

CHRISTOS DOVAS: Since childhood, I have loved to draw with my pencils in black and white, along with watercolor and wax. I love gentle, smooth, soft pastels in combination with strong, dark, powerful hues. There are many different ways that color and fabric can be combined to create unique creation. The personality of someone is definitely the most important factor to consider when applying color onto fabric.

 

QUESTION: What’s it like to work with you and your studio? Can you tell us a little about the experience of commissioning your work?

CHRISTOS DOVAS: I am an old fashioned designer, which means that I like to show personal interest in the commission of a dress. Once we agree on the design, I begin to drape the fabric and bring to the drawings to life. Lots of hand-stitching is involved in the execution, and many fittings will happen to perfect a bespoke design.

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QUESTION: Can you give us a tip? What design elements should be avoided for practicality reasons?

CHRISTOS DOVAS: My philosophy revolves around beauty and timeless elegance. I would rather stay with simplicity instead of opting for a design with lots of lines and shapes.

 

QUESTION: When you’re seeking inspiration and renewal, where do you head?

CHRISTOS DOVAS: I often seek inspiration through books, art history, paintings, and sculptures. I always like to head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York and I love reading biographies of artists and designers.

 

QUESTION: Before we go, will you please share a sweet story about one of your favorite clients?

CHRISTOS DOVAS:  Every moment is a special occasion, though weddings take the cake. When designing a wedding dress, the mother is always the biggest advisor to the bride.  When it comes to details, there are usually different ideas and opinions to be had, especially when choose sleeve embellishments. A bride-to-be chose one ribbon with embroidery as the finish detail, and the mother chose another ribbon with bugles and crystals. There were a lot of hard decisions to make on their end in terms of which ones to choose. The final creation was beautifully stitched with attention to detail to make both the bride and mother happy with the design!

Learn more about Christos at http://www.ChristosDovas.com 
Credits:
Photography: Manuel Vasquez and Stephen Shadrach
Model: Jackie Swerz
Make Up artist: Alison Cornely,
Hair: Abby Ballin
Portrait credits: Francois Legagneur

 

 

 

#DestinationDempsey

When creating our Jet Set collection, we wanted to honor four iconic cities that would resonate with locals and travelers alike. Each unique city features engraved correspondence cards and envelopes that are hand-lined with city maps and vintage artwork. 

We worked with four influencers from around the world to create a blog post with their top hidden gems and experiences with our Jet Set Collection.  Follow along to discover Paris, London, Los Angeles, and New York with highlights from our #DestinationDempsey campaign.

 

Paris

We started in Paris, as Emily Jackson (@theglitteringunknown) shared her five can’t-miss places in the City of Lights on The Glittering Unknown. From strolling through the popular Marais neighborhood, to enjoying a cocktail on the Seine River by Le Pont Alexandre III, the “Je ne sais quoi” of Paris was beautifully captured.

 

London

We then took a trip across the English Channel with Andrea Cheong (@fleurandrea) as she wrote about her favorite places in London, a bustling metropolis that juxtaposes historic sites with modern architecture and technology. We followed her handwritten clues on The Haute Heel to discover instagrammable hot spots like Plum Spilt Milk, along with classic spots like The Victoria and Albert Museum.

 

Los Angeles

We flew across the country to sunny California to meet Caroline Juen (@loveandloathingla) in the City of Angels for her guide on Love & Loathing LA. Whether you’re soaking in old Hollywood glamour at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, or cheering for a baseball game at Dodger’s Stadium, there are plenty of great experiences to be had by Angelenos and tourists alike in Los Angeles.

 

New York City

What better way to end Destination Dempsey than Alyssa Ponticello (@runwaychef) as she shared her love letter to New York before beginning her cross country trip to move out west? Alyssa’s guide on Runway Chef brought us all over our home city, from brunch at West Village hot spot Buvette, to taking in skyline views at Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO. New York is, after all, the city so nice they named it twice!

 

Where are your favorite spots in Paris, London, Los Angeles, and New York? Discover our Jet Set Collection to inspire your next trip and use the #DestinationDempsey hashtag on social media to share your travels. 

The U.S Postal Service honors Oscar de la Renta

Fashion meets mail with the beautiful new stamps honoring fashion icon Oscar de la Renta. The official Dedication Ceremony on February 16th, 2017 was a momentous occasion that brought together people from all different industries in honoring the late designer. We were thrilled to attend the event, which featured remarks by Oscar de La Renta CEO Alexander Bolen, Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Artistic Director of Conde Nast and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Anna Wintour, and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

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Photo: U.S Postal Service

Janice D. Walker, Vice President of Corporate Communications for USPS, led the official stamp dedication and lauded de la Renta’s innovative designs and leadership in the fashion industry.

“Like Oscar de la Renta, handwritten letters never go out of style,” remarked Walker. The timelessness of handwritten letters rings true as we head into our 139th year as a proud New York company.

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(l-r) Alexander Bolen, Michael Bloomberg, Anna Wintour, Hillary Clinton, Janice Walker, Anderson Cooper (photo: Getty Images)

Following the ceremony, we had a chance to learn more about the stamp design process from Xavier C. Hernandez, a Communications Specialist and spokesperson for the USPS.

Can you tell us a bit more about who decides on the new stamps that are released?

 The stamp development team vets the ideas and does the design work, but the Postmaster General ultimately decides the next catalog of stamps for the year.

 During Anna Wintour’s speech, she exclaimed that de la Renta wasn’t a big letter writer, but how does the USPS see the connection between writing and fashion?

 The greater picture is that the Postal Service likes to honor American icons and their influence on American culture, especially for our commemorative stamp series.

 We’ve found that there is definitely a younger generation celebrating the art of letter writing in the age of emails and text messages. How does the USPS work to keep people interested in sending mail?

 There are so many great stamps out right now because we want to encourage people to write as many letters as possible. We have a JFK stamp coming out on President’s day and we just released new stamps for the Chinese New Year. We like to incorporate all different facets of American culture to be as inclusive as possible.

 It was incredible to see the turnout for this dedication event with people from all different industries!

 It’s wonderful to see a turnout like this for the official release of these commemorative stamp because our goal to bring everyone together. We are lucky that this wound up happening during Fashion Week so it has some relevance to timeliness.

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Thank you to the U.S Postal Service for the beautiful new stamps honoring Mr. de la Renta. We look forward to adding a fashionable touch to our envelopes!

What Are They Packing?

July 4th Weekend is a wonderful time to take a long weekend to travel, whether it involves hiking in Aspen or relaxing on the beach.  Sometimes the most difficult part of traveling is the packing, so our  Creative Director, Leo Mascotte, and CEO, Lauren Marrus, have graciously shared their essentials for their summer destinations.

Leo’s Aspen hiking essentials

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A Fourth of July Parade in Aspen

 

Lauren’s Beach essentials

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Sandy Hook Beach, New Jersey

A Spotlight on Isaac Mizrahi

Dempsey & Carroll curator, Madeleine Garone, chatted with Isaac Mizrahi to hear about his inspiration and favorite things. 

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MG: You are an icon in the fashion industry. Where do you find your inspiration when you begin a new design?

 

IM: I am inspired by so many things. I love music, dance, art, film, my dogs, New York City! I find great inspiration in juxtaposition in this city – a gorgeous luxury building being built next to one that’s completely run down or condemned, or a completely manicured garden next to a lot that’s overgrown and unmaintained. There’s so much of that in New York. Also COLOR. Colors that I see in my everyday world and in nature.

 

MG: Do you think the artistic process for designing fashion differs from paper?

 

IM: Designing fashion and designing paper have a lot more in common than you would think. Because it’s about being inspired and creating something you love and can really stand behind – something that expresses your personal style no matter the product.

 

MG: Writing notes is as timeless as a crisp white blouse or a little black dress. If you could write to any person in history, who would it be?

I would love to write to Sergi Diaghilev or Elsa Schiaparelli.

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MG: Colors play such a significant role in style. What’s your advice to those seeking to create or reinvent their own personal style?

 

IM: I think taking risks is really important. Especially in dressing oneself, taking a risk is FUN! Try a bold new color, or a long skirt if you like short skirts, a flat shoe if you love a big heel!

 

MG: As someone who loves to entertain, I have to ask – do you have a signature dish when company comes over?

 

IM: ICE CREAM! It’s so much fun to make and who doesn’t love ice cream?

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MG: Throughout your career, you’ve managed to cross into several other outlets, including television and publishing. What is next for you?

 

IM: I’m presenting a mid-career survey at the Jewish Museum in New York City opening in March 2016, which I’m thrilled about! It will encompass my work in fashion, film, television, and the performing arts. It has been an incredibly fun process thus far, and I can’t wait to see it all come together.

 

MG: Every collection always has its own unique story. What inspired the prints in your Spring 2015 collection?

IM: I have always loved florals, stripes, and gingham- they’re classic, iconic prints that have been my signature to collection since the beginning. In these bright colors, they’re perfect for Spring, Summer, and beyond!

 

MG: Handwritten notes hold such a special place to each of us. Do you have a signature way to sign off the notes you send?

IM: I always sign “xIsaac” or “xxIsaac” and usually add a few hearts, too!

A Spotlight on Ron Ben Israel

Dempsey & Carroll’s Meryl Gabay sat down with Ron to discuss his experiences in the wedding cake arena.

When did you decide to become a pastry chef?

As a child I enjoyed baking with my mother, who was Viennese. She was my very first inspiration. I was fascinated by her culinary skills, especially when she magically whipped egg whites into a frothy meringue or transformed flaky crusts into ethereal apple strudel. I originally studied fine arts in hopes of becoming a set designer, but decided to become a dancer. I would never have guessed that the art and science of baking would become my life’s passion.


How do you begin the process with a new client?

Most couples book our services six months to a year before the event. We do not like to rush clients into making hasty decisions and we encourage them to come to us with their own vision. Our consultation and tasting typically lasts about an hour.

A cake has to be able to match the style of the event. My role is to artistically combine the individual histories as well as capture their story of falling in love. The end result may be a multi-tiered cake or a smaller more delicate one. Surprisingly so, sometimes a smaller cake can take longer to prepare.

What inspires you the most when sketching a new design?

I am always searching for new inspirations, and find it often in nature. Nature fascinates me! Nature is said to be perfect, but it is its imperfections that I appreciate the most. I enjoy the process of translating that natural beauty to our creations. Our sugar flowers are a perfect representation of the diversity of flowers that exist in our world.


What do you find to be the most interesting challenge 1333_Ziesig1332_Ziesigwhen planning a multicultural wedding cake?

Planning a multicultural wedding cake is such a wonderful challenge! I am presented with the opportunity to discover the commonality of what brought these two people together. Every cake has a story. I often ask myself, “What elements will I be able to integrate together to showcase their unity?” I love to offer options that people do not think about. A fusion of different flavors, blending their cultures together and surprising them with an extraordinary wedding cake!

There seem to be many requests for gluten-free cakes. Is this a popular trend?

 

The trend is that there are no trends! Our brides and grooms are very sophisticated and often know what they would like. I am here to provide my clients with a wedding cake that reflects their personalities and dietary considerations. With this in mind, my team and I have developed a line of gluten-free cakes. We do not, however, make vegan, egg-, or sugar-free cakes. We suggest that if guests have particular dietary constraints that the couples consider selecting a smaller cake to meets those needs and order a larger cake with a more traditional recipe for the rest of your guests.

 

Can you ship cakes outside of New York City?

The best method to deliver our cakes is by cold vans. We offer this service from New York to most points on the East Coast. Long distance delivery is both extremely complicated and can be very costly! While we have flown our cakes to distant destinations, it is a highly complex process to engineer the delivery via private or chartered plane. Most designs also require the presence of a staff member who must assemble the cake on-site. We then need them to come back!

Do you meet with the other designers that are involved with the wedding?

Yes, I like to meet with everyone involved whenever possible—the stationer, the dress designer, the florist, in addition to the wedding planner. The wedding invitation establishes the venue and theme. My designs vary on whether the celebration is black tie, destination, or an outdoor affair.

For some couples, we have created monograms on their cakes that were adapted from the invitation!

Our sculptured sugar flowers come to life after meeting the florists. I’ve collaborated many times with florist and party planner Matthew David, whose work is truly magnificent!

The bridal designer will share the sketch, which includes the intricate details of the gown along with the color and materials that the bride has chosen which instantly inspires my creativity.1338_Ziesig

 

The New York Times has called you the Manolo Blahnik of wedding cakes. I understand why!

In the photos below, Oscar de la Renta provided us with a lace sample along with a beading motif. The transformation from gown to cake is magical.

Photos provided by Brian Dorsey Studios

 

Do you have the opportunity to teach your art?

I am a Guest Master Pastry Chef instructor at the International Culinary Center. I teach the fine points of cake art to the career students of both the Professional Pastry Arts program as well as the specialized Cake Techniques and Design course.

SoHo has been your working home for almost 20 years. What motivated your decision to move your studio?

Our studio in SoHo has been a wonderful home for us, but we were offered an opportunity to double our space and the new location was perfect! The streets are wider, which allows for easier truck maneuvering for our deliveries. In addition many dress designers that we collaborate with are in the area, the flower market is now just a few blocks away. Inspiration is truly around the corner!

 

Ron has always been dedicated to every cake he has created, which has resulted in his undesirable success in the wedding industry. We wish him many years of success at his new location!1366_Ziesig


Ron Ben Israel 

247 West 38th Street, New York, NY.

212-625-3369