Friday is “Bride Day” on TLC, and the centerpiece of that is “Say Yes to the Dress,” a show in which a bride has already said “yes” to a proposal and now just needs to complete one tiny detail in the wedding picture.
Whether it’s at Bridals by Lori in Atlanta., or at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, the show follows consultants as they scour the racks for the perfect dress that flatters a woman’s figure and satisfies her soul.
On Friday, Dec. 28, “Say Yes” starts its ninth season, back at Kleinfeld. Making an appearance is Joan Rivers, who lends her fashion experience to help a friend’s daughter pick a dress.
That task usually falls to Randy Fenoli. For several years, he was fashion director at Kleinfeld, a job he sought after Hurricane Katrina put a serious dent in his ability to make a living in New Orleans.
“Nobody,” he tells Zap2it, “wants a dress when they don’t have a roof over their head.”
Now he’s out on his own, but he still drops by Kleinfeld and “Say Yes to the Dress” to help brides look their best.
Fenoli has always loved the glamour of eveningwear. But since most high-end evening dresses are worn on red carpets, and in most cases, are provided free of charge to the celebrity, Fenoli instead focused on bridal fashion.
“I want to take the real woman,” he says, “and, on one of the most important days of her life, make her feel like that celebrity feels every day or can feel any day. I call it the white-carpet moment, where she is walking down that white carpet, feeling like she’s at the Academy Awards. All eyes are on her; everyone’s looking at her dress; she looks like a superstar. That’s the moment.
“I really love working with real brides, and so many times they ask me about celebrity weddings and celebrities, and I’m like, ‘You know what, celebrities can go straight to the designers. They can have anything they want.
“Why any celebrity should wear a dress that is not flattering is a mystery to me. Their stylist should be fired, because they have every opportunity to look good. For real women, they don’t. So, I can go in and really help them.”
Even though Kleinfeld is in business to sell dresses, Fenoli never really felt part of that.
“I’ve never liked retail,” he says. “I probably sell more dresses than anyone on the planet, but I don’t consider it selling. I consider it matchmaking. If you know a girl’s budget, and you know what she wants to look like, and you know your product, then you’re going to be able to find the right dress for the right girl that’s going to make her look her best on her wedding day.
“To me, it’s just bringing the two together. It makes a sale. If you know your product, and you know how to talk about it, if you give her that great customer service, treat her as any customer wants to be treated, then she’s going to buy.
“So, I probably sell more than anybody, but I don’t consider myself a salesperson, although I’m probably the greatest salesperson on the planet.”
As for how important the dress is to the success of the wedding, Fenoli says, “When a bride is looking in the mirror, and she’s in the right dress, and she says, ‘I feel beautiful,’ that’s it. That’s all I need to hear, because how does a bride want to feel? Beautiful.
“She wants to feel the most beautiful she’s ever felt in her life, because she’s walking down the aisle toward the man she loves more than anyone on the planet. She wants to look good for him. She wants to feel good. It’s really important to have a dress that makes you feel beautiful.”
And, Fenoli says, he doesn’t encounter the dreaded “bridezilla.”
“I’ve never seen a bride act that way,” he says. “I’ve seen a bride flip out, but not that way.”