By Katherine Ellis
Photography by Aleyah Solomon
Fashion was always a love of Andrea Anastasiou, owner of the upscale wedding boutique White Toronto. But before she knew it, she also fell into the wedding game.
Attending Ryerson University for fashion merchandising, Anastasiou found that she liked writing and styling better than fashion design itself. She became a freelance stylist and fashion editor and, for nearly 15 years, worked at a number of magazines, including Flare, Images (now Glow) and the magazine that would set her on the wedding path: Weddingbells.
“While working as a fashion editor for Weddingbells, I got talking to designers and representatives, and they kept asking which stores to sell to in Toronto,” she says. When her friends started getting married, Anastasiou also noticed that there was a lack of designer gowns in the Toronto market.
Due to the relationship she cultivated with designers through Weddingbells, she was able to bring these designer gowns to the city and, in April 2006, White Toronto emerged on the scene.
“Our store is set up in such a way that it’s like coming to our home; [this concept was] very important to us,” says Anastasiou. “We didn’t want you to feel like you were coming to a retail store, we wanted you to feel like you were coming to your best friend’s apartment in Paris – because we all have one and it is nice to visit them once in a while!”
The store comprises three floors: the bridal boutique and appointment rooms are located on the first and second floors, and the third floor is dedicated to bridesmaids’ dresses.
“Our customer is coming to see what is on trend, but also classic with overall appeal,” says Anastasiou. All who enter the boutique are looking for that fashion angle. Her team has dressed a number of celebrity brides too, such as the wives of Ottawa Senators.
No matter the celebrity status or bride, the purchase of a gown can be an emotional one.
“This is the dress that sets the tone for the wedding, this is the dress that will be seen a hundred years from now,” says Anastasiou.
The average price of a gown at the boutique is $5,500, but White Toronto carries a number of price points. Designs by Ivy & Aster, Jenny Yoo Bridal and Nicole Miller range from $700 to $3,000. The intermediate priced gowns, which include works by Monique Lhullier, range from $2,900 to $4,000. The high-end designer categories, including Oscar de la Renta, average at $5,500 to $6,500, but can go up to $15,000.
All dresses in the store are chosen during the bi-annual trips to New York in October and April. This year’s trends in bridal wear include light materials, such as Chantilly and tulle, lace and the “Kate effect” – a delicate look, including minimal cap sleeve, necklines and strapless gowns. As for bridesmaids’ dresses, Anastasiou says prints and multiple shades of the same colour, like purple, sunset or salmon, are very popular.
The busy mother of two has a number of projects on the go, and is in the process of opening a store in Montréal in the fall, called Blanc Montréal.
And why name the store “White”? “When I was thinking about what I wanted to name it, I didn’t think that Andrea Anastasiou Bridal Salon had a nice ring to it. I love the idea of something just pure and fresh!”
At White Toronto