When St. Pucchi launched in the U.S. nearly three decades ago, the collection revolutionized international bridal couture and brought designer Rani Totman’s distinctive vision to the fashion fore.
Today, St. Pucchi is carried in exclusive boutiques throughout the US, Canada, the Middle East, Russia, Japan and the United Kingdom. Style icons like Lady Gaga, Emmy Rossum and Alison Krauss have all worn St. Pucchi for memorable moments. As well, American beauty queen and reporter Candice Crawford wore St. Pucchi when she wed Dallas Cowboys’ NFL quarterback Tony Romo, and on the finale of the hit television series “Friends,” Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) captured the hearts of millions when she said “I Do” in a unique Lilac, corset bodice A-line St. Pucchi gown.
The Levity Ball had a chance recently to speak with Rani Totman, the founder and head designer behind the St. Pucchi collection, to find out more on the designs that have been taking the fashion industry by storm:
How did you get into the fashion business?
Quite by accident really! A series of events lead to the launch of my first bridal collection in Dallas, TX In 1985. I had started to design ready-to-wear clothes for international tourists in a small tailoring shop in Bangkok, Thailand when I was approached by a customer who asked if I would help with a charity function in San Antonio by showcasing some of my designs at the event. My “collection” ended up including a hand embroidered, blush color Thai Silk bridal gown, which left the Texas audience spellbound and I was approached by the famed Dallas Apparel Mart with an offer to participate in the bridal show there. Thus St. Pucchi was born.
Who was your role model growing up when you first got started?
I would say Coco Chanel. She was such a confident woman, who was as bold as she was daring, as well as such a risk taker. I remember reading about her and being so inspired by her accomplishments that I knew I too could do anything I set my heart to and that I need just follow my own vision.
What are some current fashion trends that are catching your eye whether you like them or not?
As far as general fashion goes, I believe there is no right or wrong. As long as what one wears is tasteful and appropriate it will enhance one’s person and bring forth one’s personality. It is when people feel that they need to bare themselves and over expose that they commit a faux pas. One should wear fashion and not let fashion wear you.
What makes your bridal dresses at St. Pucchi different than others?
Having had no formal design training, my dresses tend to have an edge, being modern as well as maintaining traditional elements. There are touches that make them uniquely mine such as intricate placements and mixture of all kinds of laces and hand embroideries to create dimension. The fine details in every angle of the garment, be it in the tiny crystallized silk buttons down the back, or the colored straps, the rolled tiny silk flowers and leaves, and beading techniques I invent. The mixing of heavy satin touches on a gossamer net and feather light organza dress, and then adding touches of color in unexpected places. It is these elements that are so breathtaking as to be works of art.
What is your favorite material to work with?
For the most part I like to start with a clean palette of Pure silks such as silk organza, ricamo net, duchess satin. I create my own embroidery designs and beading techniques that are hand drawn on these plain fabrics. Often times I would then add on the different kinds of laces that range from Schiffli, Chantilly, Alencon, Rattatouille etc.. I have so much fun with the entire process.
What advice would you give others looking at going into the fashion industry?
I would say if Fashion is your passion, then by all means follow your heart. There is no right or wrong way of doing anything. All one needs is a dream and a desire and to be true to oneself. The rest truly comes from the Universe.
What is the best advice you were ever given?
I remember the one person that really and truly believed in me . In 1985 when I launched my first collection which was rather bold and daring due to the use of pure silks as well as color, Miss Hedda Kleinfeld, the founder of the famous Kleinfeld empire, believed and invested in me and taught me so much about perfecting my design technique and the running of a bridal business in the U.S. She told me that I could do anything and convinced me that I had something to offer this industry that was non existent at the time.
What was the worse advice?
In a culture where women were to be seen and not heard, I was constantly told that I would not mount to anything because I had not a clue as to what it is to be a business woman, let alone a designer. And all that in a vast country as the U.S of A!
Where do you see St. Pucchi in 10 years from now? And where do you see yourself as a designer?
The future is unpredictable. The only thing I can say is that I will continue to do the best that I know how and would hope to have made a mark in the industry and to have made a difference in many people’s lives. That is my heart’s desire and my soul’s calling.