Dana Harel: The Israeli Bridal Designer About To Hit It Big in the U.S.

Anyone who has gone wedding dress shopping in the past couple of years might have noticed a wave of Israeli designers have taken the American wedding industry by storm. This week, we want to highlight yet another of the country’s top bridal talents: Dana Harel.

While she may not be a household name in the U.S. (yet!), Harel is one of the most sought out bridal designers in Israel. She’s dressed supermodel Bar Rafaeli, and recently designed the second wedding dress of Sakara founder Whitney Tingle. Harel also dabbles in evening wear, but she’s mostly known for her gorgeous wedding designs, which feature hand sewn embellished florals, flattering beaded corsets, and airy tulle skirts in blush and nude shades.

If like us, you’ve already fallen in love with her designs, you’re in luck! Dana Harel is hosting her very first U.S. trunk show on November 9 at the Los Angeles bridal boutique LOHO. In honor of her trip stateside, we spoke to the designer about how she got started, what are some of the biggest trends in bridal dresses she’s into these days, and more.

How did you get started?
I initially studied literature and psychology, yet I always had this strong desire to do something in fashion and was encouraged by my now husband to pursue this dream. I went about this by studying fashion at Shenkar (Israel’s leading art and design school) and very quickly fell in love with designing clothes. After completing my degree, I worked as the assistant to fashion designer Lilach Elgrably, an evening gown designer well-known among Israeli celebrities, for a year and a half. Towards the end of my time there, I simultaneously opened Dana Harel Design, which was about seven years ago.

How would you describe your signature style?
My style is modern, clean-cut, with a feminine touch characterized by premium materials, beads, silks, and handmade embroidery. My dresses, which are all custom-made and require many hours of work, are more evening-gown-like with an unconventional take, and are less like the traditional looking bridal dress. My style is differentiated from other designers as I don’t use lace or vintage elements.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
It all begins with choosing the fabrics. I then construct a story or vision around a specific character that I have in mind, later expanding this vision and style on to the whole collection.

Which fashion designers inspire you?
For bridal-wear: Naeem Khan. For non-bridal-wear: Valentino, Chloe and Rodarte.

What are some of the latest bridal-dress trends you’ve notice?
There are currently many different recent trends including the off-the-shoulder style, bell-sleeves, application of flower-like pieces, 70s inspired dresses and blush colored dresses. We’re also seeing a comeback of the simple wedding dress.

What type of wedding venue are your dresses suitable for?
My dresses are suitable for any venue differing from indoor, outdoor, or beach venue, which are all exquisite options. However, my personal favorite type of venue would be a gorgeous garden—ideal for the boho bride.

What tips do you have for expected brides?
I always recommend brides to shop with no more than one person when it comes to selecting a wedding dress, since it can become very confusing to decide with too many people. And most importantly enjoy yours and your husband’s special day—don’t let the process become too stressful!

—Gabrielle Abraham