Q&A With Fashion Designer Stephanie Ward of Georgetown's Punk Rock Bride

Stephanie Ward's dresses aren't as hard-edged as they sound, but they're not poufy.
Stephanie Ward's dresses aren't as hard-edged as they sound, but they're not poufy. (Paul Emma Photography)
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

When Stephanie Ward graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1998, wedding wear design wasn't exactly her dream job. The District resident, now 33, got her post-graduation start designing women's professional and casual wear for Robert Scott and David Brooks, then freelanced for Sigrid Olsen. But in 2003, her newly engaged best friend asked her to design a dress that was . . . different. No poufy, full-skirted princess gowns or sparkling, crystal-beaded corsets; this bride wanted modern silhouettes and fashion-forward details. And that was that. Ward's first collection under the Punk Rock Bride label launched in 2008, and she followed up this year with another five-piece collection. We stopped in to Ward's Georgetown studio to chat about her less-traditional take on bridal.

-- Michelle Thomas

The name Punk Rock Bride conjures images of dresses adorned with zippers and studs, but your dresses feature soft fabrics like chantilly lace and delicate embellishments like pleating and ruffles. How do you keep the line edgy and modern while still remaining feminine?

The name is really not meant to be taken that literally -- we really just wanted something that represented an alternative to what was traditionally bridal. And punk rock music was all about personal expression and rebelling against the mainstream. We're trying to do that on a different level and in a different venue, of course.

In terms of keeping it edgy, I think what we try to do is use a lot of different fabrics and mixing of nontraditional fabrics. And take simple ideas, like a tank top as we have in one of our dresses called Becky, where we pair a ribbed cotton jersey tank top with a really elaborate beaded belt. So I think just unexpected details like pockets and things like that are what make our dresses different.

What inspires your designs?

It can be anything from a painting to a photograph to a piece of jewelry. I actually think that other artistic mediums are really inspiring to me. But I never really know where it comes from -- it just happens -- but I find that if I'm looking for it I can always find it. It's out there; I just have to open my eyes.


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