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Wedding dress designer Reem Acra

Wedding Designer Feature: Reem Acra

Reem Acra is one of the most well-known bridal designers in the world. By combining tradition with modern aesthetics, she leads the fashion industry with her bridal and ready-to-wear collections. She is adored by both brides and celebrities alike, and we can’t get enough of her glamorous yet romantic wedding dress designs.

How It All Began for Reem Acra

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Reem Acra knew early on that the fashion world was calling her name. By age 5, her mother was taking her to the souks, where she was immersed in the fashion and tailoring industry.

While studying at the American University of Beirut, a fashion editor noticed her intricate, silk-organza gown at a party and was amazed that Acra had designed it out of her mother’s tablecloth! The editor asked to see more of Acra’s designs and pulled together a last-minute fashion show in just ten days.

After a roaring success, Acra enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where she graduated magna cum laude in 1986. From there, she worked on multiple fashion design projects in Paris, Hong Kong, and Taiwan before finally deciding to return to New York.

How Reem Acra Got into the Bridal Industry

In 1997, a close friend of Acra’s bet that she couldn’t design her wedding dress in just three weeks. After Acra pulled it off, she submitted a photo of the dress to multiple publications, including The New York Times, and officially launched Reem Acra New York in Manhattan.

Her designs gained immediate attention and she started pitching designs to Saks Fifth Avenue and Kleinfeld—the well-known bridal shop now has the largest selection of Acra dresses in the country.

Acra’s business boomed after working with Max Kane, an 89-year-old factory owner, who really mentored and supported her in the beginning. This partnership allowed Acra to expand her business and open her own production centers.

In 2001, she started her first ready-to-wear collection and added evening gowns by 2003. Like her bridal collections. These designs are crafted with amazing embroidery, layered textures, and ornate beading.

Her popularity continued to grow, and in 2007 Mattel released a limited edition Reem Acra Bride Barbie doll. By 2010, she opened a bridal shop in Beirut and launched a line on the Home Shopping Network.

Designer Reem Acra working on a wedding dressCourtesy: arabamerica.com.

Reem Acra’s Empire Today

It’s not hard to spot an Acra gown. The designer has been known to use luxurious fabrics, lots of texture, and handmade details in all her designs. She always brings glamour and sophistication to every gown she creates.

Acra likes to describe her style as multicultural European mixed with modern New York and believes in the motto “where trend begins, and the tradition continues”.

Today, Acra gowns are available in some of the most exclusive retailers around the world, including Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. Over two dozen countries carry her designs, giving Acra a wide international presence.

Gowns range between $4,000 to $10,000 and are made exclusively in New York. Acra says her goal is for the bride to feel special in what she’s wearing. If she feels special, then her wedding-day look will reflect how she feels.

When she’s not designing clothes, Acra keeps busy around the fashion world. She’s an active member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the Bridal Council of America, and the International Advisory Council of the American University of Beirut.

She was once named the 7th most powerful Arab Woman in the World by Forbes Magazine and has received many other awards. She also appeared as a judge on the Middle Eastern reality show Fashion Star, where she mentored 12 up-and-coming designers.

Our Favorite Reem Acra Looks

Austria gown by Reem Acra Lebanon gown by Reem Acra

Courtesy: reemacra.com.

We’re going back in time for Acra’s latest bridal collection “Love and Dreem”. Acra definitely brought her Lebanese heritage into these designs and mixed in some traditional elements.

The Austria gown is straight-up royalty with the puff sleeves and A-line silhouette. The Lebanon gown gives us princess vibes but with a modern twist. Both looks totally bring the wow factor!

Floral gown by Reem Acra Gold and teal gown by Reem Acra

Courtesy: reemacra.com.

Hot off the press is Acra’s Spring 2022 ready-to-wear collection “Soiree”. The designer says she tapped into the at-home living vibe but still brought her signature glamour to the table.

We love the draping tulle on the first gown—it has a dreamy, cloudy effect. The gold and teal gown is also stunning with its deep V-neck and semi-sheer sleeves. We can totally picture this gown at a fancy tea party.

Kaley Cuoco in Reem Acra wedding dress with husband Tara Lipinski in Reem Acra wedding dress with husband
LeAnn Rimes in Reem Acra wedding dress with husband Marcia Cross in Reem Acra wedding dress with husband

Courtesy: eonline.com, People.com, People.com, & People.com.

These A-list brides really sparkled on their wedding days, thanks to Acra! Both Tara Lipinski and Marcia Cross dazzled in their strapless, sweetheart neckline gowns. Ironically, the brides both said “I do” on June 24th (just 11 years apart). LeAnn Rimes also chose Acra for her big day—a surprise Friday-night wedding with 35 guests.

Actress Kaley Cuoco went all-in for her wedding dress. She chose a custom lace gown with a matching cape. It took ten seamstresses nearly 400 hours to create the stunning design. She looked totally amazing!

Taylor Swift at the 2015 ACM awards Taylor Swift with her best friend Britany Maack
Halle Berry at the 2018 NAACP Image Awards Jennifer Lopez at the 2019 Governors Awards Madonna at the 2012 Golden Globes

Courtesy: redcarpet-fashionawards.com, albawaba.com, reemacra.com.

If you wrote down all the celebrities that have worn Acra’s gowns, your list would be endless! The Lebanese designer is a red-carpet favorite. Halle Berry stunned in a sexy black-and-red number at the 2018 NAACP Image Awards, and Madonna wore a super glam gown at the 2012 Golden Globes. While it wasn’t a red carpet per se, J-Lo stole the show at the 2019 Governors Awards. The canary sleeveless gown with the dramatic bow back was amazing.

Taylor Swift is a long-time client of Acra’s, and the designer says the singer is one of her muses. It was hard to narrow down just one look, but we think she dazzled in this light blue cut-out gown at the 2015 ACM awards.

Ten months later, Swift also sported a blush bridesmaid dress that coordinated with her best friend Britany Maack’s wedding dress—another custom design by Acra. The singer said she personally escorted her BFF to the designer’s showroom to help pick out the gown. They both looked so beautiful!