Constantly Pushing the Envelope, Kleinfeld Bridal Gives WindowsWear Exclusive Insights with Creative Director Jacques Vigneault

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In an industry that is generally considered one of the most traditional in fashion, Kleinfeld is constantly pushing the envelope. WindowsWear had the pleasure of sitting down in the Kleinfeld studio space with creative director Jacques Vigneault and assistant creative director Billy Grijalva for an exclusive interview on the current Kleinfeld window installation.

Every little girl dreams of that special day where she gets to walk down the aisle in the gown she always imagined. Long before Kleinfeld Bridal was Saying Yes to The Dress on TLC (currently in its thirteenth season) it was bringing bridal fantasies to life right here in New York City. From the moment you enter Kleinfeld one can't help but be swept up in a whirl of romantic nostalgia. The incandescent glow of flowery chandeliers, the ever smiling staff, the breathtaking wall of thousands of wedding gowns waiting to be "the one", if soon-to-be brides had a Mecca, Kleinfeld Bridal would be it.

But in an industry that is generally considered one of the most traditional in the country, Kleinfeld is constantly pushing the envelope visually. Spearheading this innovation is Kleinfeld Creative Director Jacques Vigneault. Jacques and his team are the visual masterminds behind the fashion shows and the always impressive Kleinfeld Windows.

These windows are spectacular! Share with us, what was the inspiration behind this display?

The windows are titled From Here To Anywhere. The idea started with a paper plane.

These are destination windows so a paper plane felt whimsical and appropriate. There's also a great series of children's books written in the 1960s by Miroslav Sasek called "This isÂ…" Rome, Paris, and London. The illustrations are very beautiful and use aged art paper in soft pastel colors. Since the window is about destination weddings this was a great match. Keeping with that we picked two dresses one short, one long by Kleinfeld Exclusive Designer for ten years Pnina Tornai. Short dresses are generally used for destination weddings or as a second dress so it was perfect for this window and this time of the year (spring).

A giant paper airplane made of wood painted white serves as inspiration

A children's series by Miroslav Sasek brings whimsy to the display

Original illustrations from This is Rome featuring famous Roman landmarks

Pastel hues are painted into tiny shapes to create an intricate landscape

Kleinfeld Creative Director Jacques Vigneault and his team work on installing the pieces into the window

What was the most fun aspect of constructing these windows?

I think the train, trying to figure it out. It's essentially a series of hollow drums made of plywood and wiggle board to give it shape. It's supposed to represent the channel between London and Paris in which travelers go underwater, obviously we weren't going to do that so this is a romanticized version of that train.Train tracks constructed out of plywood

The train itself made of molded wiggle board

The windows are quite elaborate, what major challenges did you face?

One of the things we're slowly getting used to is that you can have an idea and put it all together but it's never exactly the same as you pictured in your head. An element that changes this a lot is light. Lighting is the most crucial technical aspect in windows. We tend to light everything from behind and the front. Knowing the angles and depth of your window is also important. If you pass a certain point in the window, shapes start to be negative. Most windows around town are very shallow which can be deadly because your light will be so harsh it can create massive shadows underneath the eyes of the mannequins making the clothes look vacant or sad. So for us we're always experimenting with lights and gels. Sometimes an object can look drab but if you light it the right way it's magnificent or the opposite affect can happen.

How much time do you spend putting windows together?

It depends on the window. We do it in parts because we have so many projects going on at once. Sometimes we work on them a month in advance, for these windows there were some 16-20 hour days but they took about a week to produce.

How many people did it take?

We work with the same team of 5 people year round on all our windows, and anything visual related. We're currently working on a Tony Ward show for Bridal Fashion Week so we're always busy.

Do you ever recycle or reinvent materials from previous windows?

Yes we do reuse some stuff. In our "Love me, love me a lot" window I built a small daisy at home using white paper and a yellow button. I initially wanted five hundred, but we wound up with five thousand daisies! We not only used them in the window but in two photo shoots as well. Sometimes reusing is difficult because props can be very specific to a particular window. We have a storage space and keep pieces because we get sentimental about them but eventually we run out of space or they get damaged in transit and get tossed.

Love MeÂ…Love Me A LotÂ…Love Me, Dress by Claire Pettibone

He Loves Me, He Loves Me A Lot! campaign for the Kleinfeld Gift Shop

Kleinfeld Bridal consistently has some of the best windows in NYC, what is your magic formula?

The general rule of thumb is to include men or a couple in the window. There's a little more room to be playful because the same rules don't apply to men that do to women. For instance, we had a window called "50 Shades of White" based on the book 50 Shades of Grey but instead of the bride being 'tortured' it was the groom. We were advertising mens ties and accessories so we stuck a pocket square in his mouth and tied him up with suspenders. So you can do a lot with a male mannequin that wouldn't translate and may be too provocative or risqué on a bridal mannequin.

We always try to create partnering in some form, the robot in our "Love is Blind" window is a good example of a non traditional approach. In our "Wedding Photos" display the entire window was portraits of family members of the bride and groom. Adding elements like this create a history to the window, otherwise it can be a very lonely place for just a single bridal mannequin.Love is Blind, Bangles by Tejani Bangle Bar Dress by Tony Ward

Wedding Photos, Dress by Vanitas

50 Shades of White, Dress by LANVIN Tuxedo by Kleinfeld MEN

How do you choose the theme for the windows?

It's funny because the more ideas that come to you, the more ideas you will have. Once you expand your thinking and realize it's not just a wedding dress it's more of a symbol, the job then becomes expressing that rite of passage. Young girls don't see wedding dresses as a simple gown, it embodies an idea. Most people view getting married as a very important milestone into adulthood so if you play on that moment you can create something really special.

Do you have favorite window you've created at Kleinfeld?

The one with the clocks! Mainly because it was simple looking but it wasn't simplistic. In one window there were two male mannequins, the other window had a male and female. It was a little controversial because in the window with two men one of them was holding a bouquet so you weren't quite sure if they were getting married or not. All the faces on the mannequins were clocks, but the clocks were not set on our time. Both windows clocks were set on the same time as their respective partners. The principle behind this was that each clock was battery operated and though they began their time together one of them would die before the other one. It sounds a little sad but it's also very poetic and true to life.
Perfect Timing, Tuxedos by Kleinfeld MEN

Perfect Timing, Dress by Mark Zunino Tuxedo by Kleinfeld MEN

When producing the windows, in terms of inspiration which comes first the dress or the theme?

It's a combination of both. Because we're doing bridal, 95% of the time we're going to feature a long white dress. What may change though is the silhouette, whether it's ball gown, sheath, or mermaid. We have wonderful designers like Claire Pettibone and Elizabeth Fillmore who are reminiscent of 1930s vintage fine lace for a Downton Abbey kind of feel. Other designers like Mark Zunino or Tony Ward inspire Hollywood and red carpet looks which is great because you can filter the dresses into telling different stories in your windows.

From Here To Anywhere is currently on display in the windows of Kleinfeld Bridal at 110 West 20th Street, New York.
From Here To Anywhere, London and Paris, Dress by Pnina Tornai Shoes by Jimmy Choo

From Here To Anywhere, Rome, Dress by Pnina Tornai