Jessica Williams: An inside look at Alvina Valenta
It’s morning in bustling New York City and head designer for Alvina Valenta, Jessica Williams, is walking her daughter and son past the neighbourhood markets’ ombre of side-walk roses, hyacinths and daisies and the lifting aromas of the local baker’s bread to their respective preschool and daycare. She then hops on the subway taking her to Manhattan and the Alvina Valenta design studio. With Florence and the Machine flowing through her ear buds, she takes her place amongst her fellow Brooklynites, enjoying casual observations of her fellow commuters’ outfits du jour, and relishing her “private” reading time. About twenty-five minutes later, she exits the subway and weaves through the crowds of New Yorkers intent on their exit to the daylight. Emerging from the depths of the subway station and suddenly surrounded by buildings towering to the sky, Jessica picks up her pace, ever energized by the city vitality that sparked her imagination from her first travels there years ago. She stops briefly for her morning coffee and then continues through the Garment District to theJLM Couture design headquarters, where she greets her team and starts playing with all of the gorgeous silks, laces and beaded embroideries that will transform into one of her new bridal gown developments.
Jessica grew up in a small town and enrolled at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) where she learned her trade, building on her foundation of sewing given to her by her mother and grandmother. After graduating in 2000, she landed a job at the prestigious St John Knits, in California. There, she was exposed to the glamorous and the luxurious world of special occasion clothing. Being surrounded by lush fabrics and detailed beading, it wasn’t long before it took root. She had found her calling. Following her time at St. John, she went to live in New York City where she came to work for the JLM Group at Alvina Valenta in 2009.
Unlike most large wedding gown makers who have their products made overseas, every gown from Alvina Valenta is constructed in New York City. Having the gowns so close at hand means that Jessica can personally work alongside the highly skilled team of pattern-makers and sample makers every day; draping, changing and evolving the original design until the final look is achieved. It can take up to 20 different artisans and craftsmen to complete one gown. From the pattern drafting to the hand crafted Alençon lace from France, each element is skilfully constructed and assembled.
Jessica believes in putting her passion and personal touch into every design. One of the ways she accomplishes this is by spending hours, hand designing every embroidery piece featured on her gowns. She believes the elements should have dimension and interest in the details. She works with French, Italian and Spanish lace-makers, incorporating traditional and modern designs and combining intricate fabrics, beadwork, crystals and pearls into her gowns. As Jessica looks back over the years, one thing she is very proud of is that you can see her signature on the custom embroidery and beading in her collections, leaving a little piece of her in every Alvina gown. She describes her touch to be vintage-inspired, intricate, romantic and luxurious. Her unique style creates distinction among wedding gowns and evolves with each new season.
Some of the challenges she faces with a new collection include deciding how to simplify both her creativity and the current fashion trends in order to blend effortlessly with the iconic, luxe romance that Alvina Valenta brides seek. For the coming collection, “Royalty of every sort” is a theme Jessica will be exploring. Light, airy, romantic silhouettes will be paired with soft colours and luxe details. They will feature exciting new lace techniques and unique fabric layering, elements fit for both princesses and queens!
Jessica believes in putting her passion and personal touch into every design. One of the ways she accomplishes this is by spending hours, hand designing every embroidery piece featured on her gowns. She believes the elements should have dimension and interest in the details.
See more of Jessica’s stunning creations at Alvina Valenta online.