Like dolls on an assembly line, models rotate to make-shift hair and makeup stations. Two girls jokingly squabble over whose turn it is to go next. All the while, photographers capture the candor of the backstage prep happening in the “Golden Room” – a banquet space inside one of Michigan’s major bridal show venues.
Jenna Huntley’s spot is near the grand curtain, which gives way to the runway that will soon house her collection. She’s surrounded by clear garment bags, which see through to elegant ivory, white and sparkle.
Huntley instructs the models out of their comfortable flats and into high-heels. She helps them step into structured petticoats for a pre-show catwalk through. “You can lean on me,” she says. Petticoats must be held up at the sides, not in the front. She demonstrates the unflattering effect otherwise. The models walk the runway as Huntley supervises and fluffs trains. Showtime is near.
Huntley, 23, has been designing for just three short years, but she’s stitching with over 30 years of experience behind her. Huntley’s mother-in-law is a successful bridal and sportswear designer overseas. She and Huntley design together and are now looking to branch out to the U.S.
“She wanted me to start early,” Huntley says.
Jenna in White was opened in November, 2013. Huntley owns the bridal shop with her husband, a scientist at the University of Michigan. Before the shop opened, Huntley took in-home appointments. She never failed to sell a gown, she says, but she admits that, that set up was not practical. Now, she displays her designs and welcomes client appointments at 107 Legato Dr., in Walled Lake, Michigan (Tel. 734-276-9370 for appointments).
It’s the full, undivided attention that she pays her brides that makes her shop stand out, Huntley says. She only takes appointments and will sometimes spend up to three to four hours with her brides. Sympathetic to the hair-ripping, nail-biting moments that come with planning a wedding, Huntley strives to create a stress-free environment.
“I like to make it exciting, comfortable. I don’t want it to be stressful.”
Jenna in White is also open to custom work. A blushing bride’s request for an extra set of crystals here or pearl button there is honored. The shop also specializes in custom shoes and veils.
As the music starts outside the Golden Room, so does the fantasy. Huntley opens the show with a simple and demure Grecian-style dress. The fabric flows down the model like liquid silk, and as she gets to the end of the runway the crystal and lace embroidered sheer back adds an unexpected element of sensuality.
The volume is increased with the next look – literally. Huntley shows a strapless A-line gown with a sweetheart neckline and corseted bodice. The bodice and dropped waistline are strategically appliquéd with floral details that flow seamlessly into the full tulle skirt. A thoughtfully placed gathering of flowers sit at and slightly below the left bust.
Model Christina Lacy, 27, looks radiant in a haltered mermaid-style dress. Lacy hopes to marry one day and says she’s inspired by the gowns.
When asked why the dress is such a big part of the big day, Huntley’s answer is simple.
“Because it’s the dress,” She says. “You only get one day to feel like a princess.”
Huntley admits that she’s always been into weddings and designing. In an effort to one day soon be a one-stop-bridal-fashion shop, she hopes to expand Jenna in White into bridesmaid and flower girl dresses.
Above all, after the toasts have been given and the rice has been swept up, Huntley hopes her brides step into married life feeling as if their dress was one-of-a-kind and special.
“It’s a lot of work, but I love it…I have the best job.”
Call Jenna In White today at 734-276-9370
Article by Paris Giles | Freelance Journalist | firstname.lastname@example.org