From Manhattan, With Love

Pnina Tornai is clad in a curve-hugging black leather dress that she crafted herself as she sips a steaming mug of tea. We’re in a sundrenched room in Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel, where the designer and Say Yes to the Dress star has been preparing for her first-ever Canadian appearance. And it’s just in time: We’re only a few weeks away from the grand opening of the new Kleinfeld boutique at Hudson’s Bay, where her famed frocks — which she designs exclusively for the Manhattan-based shop — will finally be made available for Canadian brides to say “yes” to. “Such a lovely view,” Tornai coos as we take in the frosty mid-February scape. Below us, University Avenue kisses Queen West — a stone’s throw away from where on May 1st Kleinfeld will open the doors of its first Canadian location on the seventh
floor of The Bay.

Kleinfeld has long been the darling of New York City’s bridal landscape, but the shop found fame in 2007 when it became the home of reality smash Say Yes to the Dress. It’s there that Tornai stole the hearts of brides-to-be (and millions of viewers) with her designs — which, stylistically speaking, could have been pulled from the heavens. And according to the designer, they kind of were. “I see visions of dresses,” says Tornai, who sells her designs next to the likes of Isaac Mizrahi, Lanvin Paris and Viktor and Rolf. “I feel like they exist somewhere, and I have to bring them down to earth by creating them.”

Our room is dotted with mannequins, each wrapped in pieces from Tornai’s latest collection, which she claims was inspired by “the place where imagination meets the real world,” hence the abundance of lighter-than-air shamuze, silks and Swarovski crystals that all seem to whisper together, lulling onlookers into a sweet dream. It’s something that Canada’s betrothed can soon experience in their very own Kleinfeld, which promises to present the Canadian wedding industry with the ultimate “something new”: 22,000 square feet of bridal nirvana imported straight from Manhattan. Toronto’s Kleinfeld will bring all the boutique’s traditions that we’ve fallen hard for over the years (think princess-worthy service and a gawkable stock of designer gowns), but give it a fresh twist in the form of modern décor, a champagne bar, an in-house hair consultant, cosmetics and accessories.

Tornai is just about finished her tea, and our sunlight is slowly leaving us. Now that she has me thoroughly under the Kleinfeld spell, I gesture to down the street, where the boutique is being prepared as we speak, and ask the designer what she’s most excited about. “For years, the Canadian bride has been travelling to New York to experience Kleinfeld, and now it’s time for us to come to her,” she tells me. “I think the most passionate thing in my profession is that I get to meet people from all over the world, and the fact that Canada is next is very exciting for me.”

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Amanda Storey

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