Pina Fiorenza interview - Brisbane wedding dress designer

Five minutes with Brisbane wedding dress expert, Pina Fiorenza Designer

Wedding Dresses // by Nicole Deuble

Catwalk-ready bridal couture has made her a fashion force for over three decades (snagging a shelf of awards along the way) but designer Pina Fiorenza is renowned for much more. A generosity of spirit and deep understanding of what it means to create a wedding gown has made Pina and her eponymous label a favourite with brides, celebrities, and students alike.

This is a designer who’ll go beyond your dress size to create the perfect wedding look. And though she’s seen the industry evolve, and watched countless trends come and go, Pina notes “love and passion are never out of fashion.” It’s a belief that dovetails beautifully into her gorgeous gowns, renowned for their flawless fit, elegant detailing and dash of European glamour.

With the 2021 wedding calendar now in full swing, we loved catching up with this gifted creative and mentor to chat fabric secrets, daily obsessions, and why comfort is still king.

Can we rewind a few decades to what first sparked your interest in wedding dress design …

I have a long history in fashion — but for me, a wedding dress has always been the ultimate gown. It’s the everlasting attire that’s remembered for generations to come as “the gown my mum, or my grandmother, wore”. A wedding gown is given fresh life with each conversation! This connection between fashion and family is a concept I have understood as far back as I can remember.

What inspires you & who are your style icons?

I love designers that put comfort as one of the requisites in their fashion repertoire. As one of the icons, Coco Chanel, did by suggesting Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it’s not luxury.” This helped inspire a must-have element in my designs, and comfort counts a lot in bridal as the movement of the garment does enhance the total look.

A bride with a happy-all-day feeling is important to me, and what I work towards. You want to be yourself on your wedding day and photos tend to reveal how comfortable you are with your total bridal look. Achieving the perfect look is everyone’s dream, so ‘comfort’ is a good place to start.

Describe your style in 3 words:

Refined, elegant, comfortable.

What’s your process when designing a new collection or gown?

My process is my love of shape and fabrics all intertwining. When a bride-to-be chooses a look or style, I get inspired about how to perfect that design and how we can personalise it together. Embellishments come in various forms and what one may see as over the top, another will think is just perfect. Our taste helps define us and I really promote that sense of individuality. After all, who doesn’t want to be individual on their wedding day?

Do trends matter?

The beautiful part about bridal is that it picks up the flair of the times plus a sense of the bride thinking “yes, I like to look like that.” Add in the choice of wedding location, and the modern narrative of the wedding design starts to emerge, either through colour, setting, flowers and etc.

Do you have a favourite material to work with?

I love fabrics that feel good to touch, for instance silk charmeuse. Then I like fabrics with character, like organza, that don’t do what you ask — they do their own thing. I was telling a student recently, “Speak to the fabric and you will find the shape you are after.” She said to me, “Oh my goodness, that’s what Dior used to say.” Honestly, that is good enough for me too.

Speaking to the fabric is an acquired skill, and I talk to my brides about this. I think it helps them form a deeper connection and understanding of their gown. That’s part of why I love fashion fabrics: the interaction they bring between designer and bride.

What fascinates you — and how does this feed into your work?

I love storytelling. For example, why is a particular bride getting married with a particular gown? There is always a story there and knowing it helps us work together to create ‘the look’.

Is there a celebrity you’d love to dress?

I’ve had the honour of dressing many, many brides as well as celebrities — including former Miss Universe Australia, Karen Baildon (daughter of Australian swimming champion Michael Wenden), opera singer Cassandra Seidemann, and tv/radio presenter Chrissie Swan for the Logies — and I love them all equally! I’m always happy to walk and talk the fashion journey with a new bride-to-be.  

What do you do to relax?

Every day I look at Vogue News (yes, every day!). That relaxes me. I also go for a walk almost every day, I do lunches with my beautiful friends, and my family gets to see me relaxed at family gatherings. Lucky me, my work is my love for a daily dose of action and relaxation. I also love reading stories of achievement in other worlds. For instance, I’m currently reading a heartfelt book called Tattoos on the Heart which I recommend to everyone. The author (Gregory Boyle) lives in the power of boundless compassion.

What is your most treasured possession?

My family, no doubt about that. I have seen so many beautiful gowns in my life that my treasured moments keep coming. Of course, we all have little pieces we refer to or look at as a possession, I have so many fabrics, photos, and memories of fashion that these treasures need a whole new department!

What advice would you give brides-to-be searching for their dream dress?

Trust yourself. Individual taste is important and should be cherished. Bring your ideas plus consider the advice of someone you trust. I always say: you dress the person who gets up and has a day of lovely moments. So, take note of your feelings on a day like that and delve back into those moments. You’ll be surprised to find an individual fashion twist every time. Then, choose trust and know-how (e.g. me, ha ha) to cultivate the right chapter for your special day. 

What has been your biggest achievement in your 30 years of designing?

I have enjoyed my journey. The changes have been amazing, but one thing stays the same — love and passion are never out of fashion. Fashion is a tough industry, so being part of it and here to tell the story is part of my achievement. I have manufactured in Australia and overseas (well over 10,000 gowns and counting!), done so many fashion weeks, lots of awards. But, as my mum used to say, all is good that you have achieved but tomorrow it starts again — getting a 10 is easy but keeping a 10 is harder.

What’s next? What do you look forward to most for Pina Fiorenza Designer?

I used to answer this question with the longest list ever seen, now I’m happy to enjoy the moment and see every day as ‘the future’. It’s very interesting to discover when you get ‘there’ and enjoy the taste of success, the goalposts move, and your passion is ignited once again. Chasing your dream is the most fabulous feeling and I believe (and hope) it never ends. That is the beauty of doing what you love.

Images by Allume Wedding Photography & Video