Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
|Known for||Wedding gowns|
Amsale Aberra (born 1954) is an Ethiopian-born American designer and entrepreneur. Her main field of design is in couture wedding gowns, and her flagship store is located on Madison Avenue in New York City. In addition to her flagship location, her gowns are also sold at fine bridal boutiques such as Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus. She is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and a Trustee of the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Amsale Aberra is professionally known as Amsale (pronounced Ahm-sah’-leh).
Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Aberra Moltot, Ethiopia's vice-minister for National Community Development and Tsadale Assamnew, a housewife, Aberra moved to Poultney, Vermont to study commercial art at Green Mountain College when she was 19. Political upheaval in her native Ethiopia forced Amsale to stay in the United States and to support herself through her undergraduate years. As financial resources were limited, Amsale began to design and sew her own clothing. For the first time Amsale considered the possibility of a career in fashion design. Aberra says that she herself never expected to be a fashion designer, and especially not a couture wedding gown designer that would be famous.
After earning her degree in Political Science from Boston State College, Amsale left Boston and enrolled in New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where she earned an Associate's degree in Fashion Design.
After completing her studies at FIT, Aberra went to work as a design assistant for Harvé Benard. After she worked there for two years she began her own bridal gown company. Her approach was to create stunning, simple gowns that would fit the modern woman. Her design philosophy is to take a "forever" modern approach to sophisticated design. Her designs are seen as modern but still keep in mind traditional designs, such as her use of "illusion" necklines.
In 1985, while planning her wedding, Aberra scoured the stores to find a simple, refined wedding dress. She found little in the way of clean, sophisticated gowns, and discovered an untapped niche in the bridal market. Aberra placed an advertisement for custom-made gowns and started her business out of her New York City loft apartment.
On the website Huffington Post, Aberra has an Ask Amsale blog, where brides and brides-to-be can post questions for her, or express their love of her gowns. Aberra expresses her love of finding the perfect gown for any bride. This is solidified by the space on her main website where real brides can submit photos of themselves on their wedding day in one of her creations.
While her designs began as only wedding gowns, Aberra has expanded her line to include her regular Amsale line, Amsale Blue label (for more luxurious gowns), The Little White Dress, bridesmaid dresses, as well as cocktail dresses. Her gowns range in price from $3000 and $12000 in price. Additionally in 2003, Aberra created the Kenneth Pool label and began designing a line of dresses featuring dramatic ball gowns, luxurious fabrics and intricate beadwork. In 2005, Amsale acquired the 30 year old Christos company. With her Christos gowns, Aberra seeks to create a more romantic feeling dress – using French laces and silk organza. In 2006, she was the third bridal designer to open a store at Madison Ave. In 2012, Amsale was the winner of the The Legacy Award at Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit.
In popular culture
In 2007, ABC purchased an Aberra wedding dress for use in the season third finale of Grey's Anatomy. Also that year, Lincoln hired Aberra to produce a television commercial for their MKX model. In June 2011, WE tv aired Amsale Girls, a reality show taking viewers behind the scenes of Amsale’s Madison Avenue flagship salon and the highly skilled bridal consultants who work to help each unique bride find her perfect dress. Along with the Grey's Anatomy gowns, Amsale's dresses have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The View. American Wedding, 27 Dresses, and The Hangover all featured wedding dresses designed by Amsale. While her gowns have been featured on television as well as in films, celebrities are also a fan of Amsale gowns. Aberra has dressed celebrities such as Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Selma Blair, Salma Hayek, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Heather Graham, Lisa Kudrow, Katherine Heigl, Kim Basinger, Heidi Klum, and many others. Amsale also designed the wedding gown for Hilaria Baldwin's June 2012 wedding to actor Alec Baldwin. She has twice been included on Ebony magazine's "Power 150" list of the 150 most influential African Americans.
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- "The View". ABC. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
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- "Exclusive First Photo: Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas’s Wedding!". People Magazine. Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- "Amsale Aberra". Business Week. Retrieved 2013-06-06.