Picking the perfect wedding dress is a special occasion in any bride’s life and an intimate part of the planning process that’s all about you. Heritage design house Vinka Design has been creating beautiful bridal gowns for over sixty years and bringing a bride’s dream dress to life is something designer Anita Turner cherishes being part of.
Anita has fashion in her DNA as the daughter of the late visionary designer Vinka Lucas MNZM, who founded the bridal business which now bears her name in 1959. Vinka’s incredible designs have been worn by countless brides over generations, and her creativity and sharp eye for design saw her awarded many accolades including the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the fashion industry and design in 2019.
Growing up with her mother’s love of fashion, it was an obvious path for Anita to follow Vinka into the bridal business and she has come into her own as a designer while keeping Vinka’s creative flair at the heart of the brand. Today, Anita is the owner and designer of Vinka Design, leading a talented team of craftspeople at the label’s Auckland atelier on Queen Street, where Vinka Lucas first opened a bridal store in 1966.
To be able to claim such impressive design heritage is rare for a New Zealand label but it means that the expertise at Vinka Design is unmatched locally, and after over thirty years as a designer, Anita still adores working with brides as much as ever.
“I love to work with brides and show them what’s possible and how stunning they are,” enthuses Anita. “We’re not just making a dress for them; we’re making a gown that makes them feel incredible. When they try it on and you see their face wet with tears it’s a pretty special moment to be part of. I feel very privileged to do what I do and be there for such a joyful time in people’s lives.”
After a difficult couple of years that has seen many weddings postponed with the pandemic, Vinka Design has been bustling with joy recently as lots of couples who couldn’t previously get married have rescheduled for the upcoming summer wedding season. Anita and her team are currently enjoying a very busy season which has seen lots of extra gowns added to the atelier’s schedule with each gorgeous gown hand-crafted in-house.
Alongside her work with brides, Anita has been busily designing Vinka Design’s latest collection called Feminine Fusion which features in these beautiful images shot at The Hotel Britomart in Auckland.
The sublime new range features a spellbinding selection of romantic bridal gowns in different styles and lengths that showcase the versatility of Vinka Design. Brides will adore the eye-catching layered tulle confections with micro-pleating and ruffles that create texture and volume for a style statement. Intricate beading has been handstitched to flattering bodices with plunging necklines for plenty of drama. Sculptural shapes offer playful modernity while languidly draped silhouettes are suitably chic and timeless for the less is more bride.
Mini-dresses are trending in bridal looks and Vinka Design has created several delightful short dresses that are perfect for an elopement, urban wedding or as a second dress for hitting the dancefloor. Lately, Anita has been getting more requests for gowns with removable over skirts or removable sleeves for practicality and to change up a look.
“Brides who choose a heavily beaded gown might not want to stay in it for the whole day so it’s about how do we offer flexibility” says Anita. “Whether it’s another simpler dress or a dress that adapts to their needs. A removable over skirt or sleeves offers two looks within one gown which is an easy way to create versatility and get the most out of the dress. It is such an important dress and an important day but they still have to be able to enjoy the party how they want to.”
Anita innately understands that each dress has got a job to do and it’s to get that bride feeling absolutely beautiful while enjoying their magical day. Each gown created by Vinka Design is carefully constructed to move well with the wearer to try and keep them as comfortable as possible while looking like the best version of themselves in their dream dress.
Taking the brides through the process of creating that dream dress is one of the best things about Anita’s job but she also loves to see the photos come through from her client’s weddings and how it all came together on the day. When the business was originally launched, most brides got married in a church whereas these days brides wearing Vinka Design’s creations have gotten married in so many different locations and settings around the world which are as unique and different as each gown is.
“It’s great, I love that brides mix it up,” says Anita. “You do you. I just want the bride to look amazing and have the best day of her life. That we can be a part of that is such a joy. I’m always excited to celebrate weddings. Let’s party.”
WORDS: Evelyn Ebrey / PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY: Erica Jane / OTHER PHOTOGRAPHY: Jemma Gwilliam