10 Questions with Bridal Couture & Eveningwear Designer, Ines Di Santo
PHOTO COURTESY OF KATHY THOMAS
1) Tell us how you got started got started as a designer.
My parents were both moved by design in all forms. As such, I was encouraged to explore and use my imagination in many ways. Buenos Aires was fertile ground for a young girl to dream and create. I found I loved a variety of art forms. As I grew, it became clear that this (gown design) would become my greatest love. I trained both in Argentina and in Italy with some of the finest couture houses of the time. It was an invaluable education that I will forever be grateful for.
2) How did you end up in Canada?
I was a university student in Argentina at a time when it was not safe to be. Without going into too much detail, we looked to Canada as a place where we could achieve new heights and make our dreams a reality. There is a rich diversity in the city of Toronto that creates an energy that has sustained me throughout my career.
3) How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Given the opportunity, I will always design toward the side of glamour. It’s a place I am happy in as it allows for femininity with a good dose of strength. Women, given the opportunity are both lovely and strong. I love to play to both sides.
4) Does evening and bridal have two different mindsets?
Not really. In the best of worlds, a woman in any circumstance is true to who she is. Played out in vivid color or the softest of shade, I want to clothe her in a garment that she shines in.
5) What inspires you each season?
Each season provides its’ own inspiration. I play a bit on the front end until I feel a clear call to pursue a direction. Time spent in the stores we are represented by, continues to be so important. It allows me to feel whispers of change I would not feel if I gave up travel. I try to get out once a month throughout the year.
6) I heard you’re called the ‘Dress Whisperer.” What does that mean?
I learned as a child how to listen well. My parents were artists and they and their friends were visionaries. Many many nights were spent listening to thoughts, dreams, goals and plans of talented people. It taught me to hear both with my ears and for lack of a better word, my soul. When I meet a bride, I try first to hear her before I say a great deal. It has served me well. When you start to understand a woman, you know how to best help her- how to best design a gown that is who she is rather than pushing her in the direction of a trend.
7) Mother/daughter team - Ines & Veronica - you both work so well together. How do you divide up the work?
When you look at successful design houses, you will often see a husband and wife or a parent and a child working together. I think it is the inherent understanding that flows between these relationships that make them work so well. Trust is significant and knowing my daughter understands my goals and shares many of them, is everything. We are building something that will hopefully, shine well beyond our time. I run our design room and Veronica is a managing partner. This shared commitment allows both of us to work to our strengths.
8) Tell us about your new diffusion line, Ines by Ines Di Santo. What are the price points?
Ines by Ines Di Santo is not a typical diffusion line. We wanted to create a line that featured designs that were at the peak of trends and what the brides want now. It was created so that I had the freedom to move Collection forward in a way that was perhaps not as safe as I could have in the past. I want to be able to be a visionary in this industry that I love so much and this has allowed me to push forward and take chances. Even though the division is young, we now know it was the right vision and our company and our design is stronger. We create this collection in a range of $3,000 to $5,500. This collection also allows us to work with a wide variety of budgets.
9) What are the plans for Ines Di Santo’s expansion into international markets?
We have always served an international clientele. With strong ties to both Italy and South America, having the good fortune of the best of US partners and a lovely footprint worldwide- we are truly an international label.
10) If there was anything in the bridal industry that you wish would change or improve what would that be?
’ve found over the course of nearly twenty years that the industry naturally goes through subtle changes on its own. Some changes are brought about by the needs of the women we serve, others to accommodate a better way of doing business. The fundamental business of creating a design and executing a beautiful garment remains largely the same. I remain in love with the process.