A rather contentious time period in the U.S. political landscape pushed one designer to seek simplicity in creativity. It was November 2016, and designer Joanna August—beloved for her elegant-but-bohemian bridesmaid dresses—started sketching wedding dresses that were streamlined, a reflection of resilience in its purest form.
“The real inspiration and heart behind this collection came from a need to strip things down to the bare essentials and to find power and strength in simplicity,” August, who’s designed bridesmaid pieces for 10 years, tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. “I don’t always feel that way— sometimes I design and dress from a ‘more is more,’ embellished point of view. But this bridal collection came to be in the wake of the presidential election, which I found to be a very noisy and overstimulating time.”
While August makes no mention about her own political ideology or party affiliation (if any), the designer says the bridal line was the byproduct of her reaction to the hullaballoo. “No matter what side of the political divide you fall on, no one can deny that there has been a lot of screaming back and forth and it has all been so intense,” she reflects. “I didn’t feel the need to withdraw from that intensity, but I did feel a very strong impulse to whittle it down, strip it bare, and have it re-emerge in its most minimal form. This all sounds pretty dramatic for relatively simple white dresses in crepe, but at the heart of each dress, I like to think lies a powerful feminist.”
The resulting designs came in the form of five different pieces named Crosby, Jagger, Linda, Pattie and Stevie, all appropriately named after the musicians David Crosby, Mick Jagger, Linda Perry, Pattie Smith, and Stevie Nicks.
“I am a huge lover of music and a bigger fan of classic rock,” she explains. “I love how musicians gain their distinction for being wild and free and bold—we celebrate their imperfection and individuality. I find that notion to be inspiring and very much at the heart of my inaugural bridal collection. So it felt completely natural to name my first styles after my favorite, groundbreaking musical artists.”
Faced with selecting five words to describe her bridal designs, August responds with descriptions such as “streamlined” and “modern,” as well as “sophisticated, bold and empowered.” The gowns, made for the self-aware woman, includes features like plunging necklines, low backs and dramatic sleeves. “This collection is targeted at the bold, modern woman, who is making her own decisions and forging her own path,” she says. “With this, she may be footing the bill as well.”
Footing the bill is a little less burdensome for Joanna August brides, especially when the dresses all retail for under $1,000. Plus, brides can effortlessly pair their gowns with her star tulle bridesmaid pieces. The whimsical designs are offered in black and champagne, both embellished with gold stars.
“When it comes to my bridesmaid collection, I feel it’s all-encompassing—something for everyone,” August says. “Like me, it has a bohemian heart with a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll edge, but can really speak to a more classic or put-together style as well.”
The true star of the wedding, though, is more focused. “I see the Joanna August Bride—at least this season—as someone who really knows herself. She has a strong sense of her own style and taste and a good deal of confidence. Someone who can really ‘wear’ a dress,” she says.
For example, August cites Nicole Richie and Kate Bosworth as two of her celebrity bridal muses. “They mix it up and play around with their clothes, but they always look effortless and totally at ease in their outfits,” she concludes. “I [also] completely adore Zendaya. She’s playful and experimental with fashion, but she owns every single look. Maybe… I need to name a dress after her.”
Joanna August’s bridal collection is debuting at Nordstrom in 2018.