Heidi Elnora takes wedding gowns to Bergdorf Goodman

Birmingham designer fulfills long-time ambition

Birmingham wedding gown designer Heidi Elnora will celebrate her fifteenth year in business with a show October 1 and 2 at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City — fulfilling a long-time dream.

“I feel like when you make it at Bergdorf, you’ve made it — you’ve made it to Heaven’s gates,” Elnora says. “It is the epitome of fashion. I remember walking on 5th Avenue throughout the years, staring at the windowfronts; I bought my wedding shoes there — Manolo Blahniks — so there could be one piece of Bergdorf on my wedding day.”

The Bergdorf opportunity depended on more than wedding shoes and window shopping.

Heidi Elnora

Elnora had been mentoring students at her alma mater, The Savannah College of Art and Design. Another mentor, Bruce Pask, is men’s fashion director at Bergdorf. The two became friends while working as mentors and it proved beneficial for them as well as the current students they work with, leading to the October show.

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The collection of about 15 pieces that Elnora plans for her Bergdorf show is “beautiful and all things Heidi,” the company says.

“I wanted this collection to be true to me,” she said in announcing the show. “I didn’t worry on this collection about what would sell — I did whatever made my heart feel full. The collection makes me happy; every sketch makes me happy. It reflects that my roots are in Alabama, but my wings are all over. It’s very me to my core.”

Elnora came to widespread notice as a contestant on the second season of Project Runway in 2005. A year later she opened an atelier on Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham. Since, she has starred on TLC’s “Bride by Design” and launched a sister store, Build-A-Bride, which allows brides to personalize their gowns. Build-A-Bride, which presently operates in Birmingham and Auburn, will open a Huntsville location later this year.

“There’s so many things in the last 15 years I’ve been proud of,” Elnora says. “But mostly, I hope that I was able to be a positive impact to women who came into my shop. I think if I could help somebody’s life and make them feel better about themselves, that’s probably my proudest moment. Being on TV, being in the press — that’s really cool and awesome. But we are put on this Earth to love people and make a difference, and hopefully I’ve done that. If I’ve been able to do that, it would for sure be my proudest moment.”

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