The Cool-Girl Label Shaking Up Bridal

If Carrie Bradshaw did it, you can do it too.

That’s at least the hope of Danielle Frankel Hirsch, the bridal designer who wants her wedding attire to double as chic party wear — just as how the fictional sex columnist repurposed her Vivienne Westwood wedding gown for the Met Gala in the season two premiere of And Just Like That.

“We’ve seen so much change over the last five years,” said Hirsch. “It used to be that brides wanted this bridal moment, a classic wedding dress, something that you look at and you say, ‘Now that’s a bridal gown,’ and it’s … what their mothers and grandmothers would’ve wanted.”

Today’s brides are different, or at least that of Hirsch. Her label, Danielle Frankel, serves a fashion-forward customer looking for something more sophisticated to wear down the aisle than, say, a lacey princess-cut ball gown. Even if most of her clients end up wearing their bridal outfits only once, the designer sets out to create pieces that evoke runway rather than fairytale, with pieces such as lace bustiers paired with white flowing trousers and co-ord skirt sets. Fans include Zoë Kravitz, Alexandra Daddario and Naomi Biden, granddaughter of Joe Biden.

To be sure, Hirsch’s namesake brand, Danielle Frankel, is hardly the only label to tap into the demand for chic, unconventional wedding outfits. Last summer, Ssense, the Gen Z-friendly e-tailer, launched a bridal shop offering nuptial-ready pieces from brands such as Chopova Lowena, Sandy Liang, Simone Rocha, Jacquemus and more. In October, Hanifa, an online brand known for bright figure-hugging dresses, unveiled a bridal collection featuring its signature voluptuous silhouettes in dramatic bridal form.

But Hirsch goes a step further with almost avant-garde creations, designing for the “anti-bride who still appreciates true couture,” as model Georgina Fowler put it in an interview with Vogue about her wedding last year, for which she donned a Vivienne Westwood gown in the ceremony and a scarved Danielle Frankel corset set during her reception.

Hirsch’s pieces, particularly the tops and skirts, can be styled casually as separates. Beyoncé, for instance, wore a custom Danielle Frankel bustier for her Renaissance World Tour performance in Los Angeles in September.

Model wearing a wedding gown with scarf.

Zoe Zaman, 32-year-old New York resident who works in finance, purchased four pieces from Danielle Frankel for her wedding festivities in October, including the brand’s popular Emory dress, a strapless organza ball gown with an exaggerated high-low skirt, a pair of pumps from the brand’s collaboration with Manolo Blahnik, and a long silk jacket that she wore to her Nikkah ceremony, a Muslim wedding rite, that she has since worn again styled with jeans and a T-shirt.

Danielle Frankel is for a woman “who really puts a lot of emphasis on what the trends are, and what’s going on in the fashion world,” Zaman said.

In that regard, Hirsch isn’t just a bridal designer — she is unmistakably a fashion designer. In 2019, she became the first bridalwear designer to win the runner-up prize in the Vogue and CFDA Fashion Fund competition. (Christopher John Rogers took home the top prize that year).

“A very strategic part of our business is that I want people to see us as a fashion label that does bridal,” the designer told BoF. “That, to me, is the ideal of the brand perception.”

Betting Big on Bridal

Prior to launching her label in 2017, Hirsch was a designer for Vera Wang, where she learned the trade of the bridal industry — and picked up on opportunities that would potentially distinguish her own venture in the sector.

For instance, the designer has a knack for social media, which she has recognised to be a transformative force in the wedding planning process. As such, the Danielle Frankel brand set up two Instagram profiles: one that showcases its dresses in a traditional editorial style, and another that spotlights its customers, essentially turning Danielle Frankel brides into unpaid ambassadors, who share the circulate the account themselves, no marketing budget required.

Another key business strategy is an emphasis on in-person appointments. While Danielle Frankel is available on e-tailers such as Net-a-Porter, the brand operates a showroom in New York’s Garment District that offers custom tailoring and bespoke designs.

“When you have that exposure to your customer it allows you to understand more of what they’re looking for,” Hirsch said. “We follow how people shop [and] as they change, we change.”

The majority of Danielle Frankel sales come from its direct-to-consumer channels, with customers across the US, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. The brand achieved profitability in 2021 without any external funding, and its personalised customer service has been key to that success.

“Word-of-mouth [is something] that you can’t pay for, and that has just been a huge part of the growth,” said Hirsch.

While Danielle Frankel has dabbled in categories beyond bridal — including a loungewear collection and certain styles in exclusive colours for Saks — for now, Hirsch has no plans to venture far beyond her specialty.

“At the end of the day, we do really well selling bridal gowns,” said Hirsch. “There’s so much room to still challenge ourselves.”

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