With a pinch of drama, a smidge of elegance and a dash of sophistication, you have the perfect recipe for an Ines Di Santo original. The Toronto-based bridal couturier spends hundreds of hours sketching, designing and embellishing her extravagant gowns. The goal is simple: Di Santo vows to make every bride look and feel like a goddess on her wedding day.
“The Ines Di Santo bride is very sophisticated, elegant, classy and discerning of fabrics and design construction,” she says.
Raised in Argentina, Di Santo carries an element of romanticism in her designs. She also upholds the old school mentality of quality and beauty over mass production. “I only use European silks, lace and high quality embroideries and beading.”
Di Santo is passionate about materials, but a strong attention to detail has been the greatest factor of her success. “I have always been a perfectionist,” Di Santo says of managing the design and production process. “It must fit like a glove and look that way, too.”
Catering to an array of clients, from socialites and celebrities to your everyday woman, each dress must follow the Di Santo staple of quality, beauty and uniqueness. Di Santo’s star-studded list includes Kim and Roberto Alomar, Courtney Mazza and Mario Lopez. Brides-to-be can choose from more than 60 couture gowns, which can be altered to suit any body type with personal flair.
Di Santo was only five years old when she made her first garment. “It started with me making dresses for my dolls and my younger sister,” she says of her favourite muses. “All my life, fashion pulsed through my veins. Everything I saw inspired me, in some way or another, to create a garment or to paint textiles.”
The designer inherited the creative gene from her parents who were also talented artists. Her mother was a tailor of men’s silk dress shirts while her father worked at a printing house and was responsible for creating magazine covers. The arts played a huge role in Di Santo’s childhood, which she describes as “colourful.” She enjoyed attending the theatre, visiting museums and spending time outdoors. When Di Santo entered her teen years, she discovered an impeccable taste for fashion. The designer enrolled at an art school in Buenos Aires, where she honed her skills and opted to focus on couture.
Inspired and motivated to launch herself on an international stage, Di Santo moved to Canada at 23 to pursue her fashion career. With little money, but big dreams, her goal was to open a boutique. After asking her bank manager for a business loan, she organized a fashion show at Casa Loma to promote the opening of her first atelier, Chez Moi.
While the road to success was often difficult, Di Santo’s motivation and passion kept her going. Fashion had become her life and she wasn’t going to let it slip away.
“I had no real expectations and was constantly impressed with the opportunities I was given by people to create outfits,” Di Santo says of her recognition to date.
When Di Santo isn’t in her Toronto studio, she’s painting with water colours, visiting art galleries or in the great outdoors. Today, you’ll find Di Santo sketching away in her design room. As she continues to dream up fairy tale-like gowns, she also shares trends for the upcoming season. For brides looking for the perfect dress, Di Santo suggests designs with a dramatic back, soft fabrics and bold features like a slit or a peplum.
By Angela Hoyos