For more than 30 years, Gary and Linda Garabedian have been putting the finishing touches on haute couture creations by J. Mendel, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Norma Kamali, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Ralph Rucci and Vera Wang with their hand-beaded and -trimmed work, all done at their Pelham Gardens atelier in the Bronx. But when they decided to create a business in 2017 that would include their own bridal and specialty-gown designs, they knew they needed a name other than Garabedian Trimming Co., a three-generation family business founded by their grandfather, Arkel “Mike” Garabedian. And what better name than that of their mother, Nelly D. Janian, who worked for Christian Dior in Marseille, France, and inspired their love of fashion?
“We wanted to honor our mother, just as Garabedian Trimming honors our father’s family,” Gary said of a business that has dressed everyone and everything from pageant queens to theatrical puppets, taking women from the church aisle to the red carpet. A good portion of Nelly D. Janian Haute Couture Gowns is bridal wear, a $61.1-billion industry worldwide that is expected to grow 3.9% to $69.9 billion by 2026. For the Garbedians and others in the business, this is the thick of the proposal season, as 40% of engagements occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.
Working with a bride-to-be, the Garabedians – a warm, expressive pair – create a sketch of her heart’s desire and then a muslin for the dress pattern, shaped to flatter the client’s figure. “Each bride wants something different,” Linda said, with trends including mermaid dresses that hug the body, then fishtail out or flare into a swirl of ruffles. Another trend, Gary said – a dress that conceals another that’s revealed at the post-ceremony festivities.
Ultimately, delivering something different is all in the details, the Garabedians added. Once the dress is made, it can be embellished with hand-sewn Swarovski crystals or stones of the client’s choosing – precious commodities in our age of supply-chain issues so brides are encouraged to make their selections early. (A beloved sister, Elise, who died in 2010, used to fashion bridal crowns out of crystals and stones.)
Alterations are free, taking some of the sting out of what is often the Bridezilla moment in many a bridal journey. A VIP package involving dressers, hair stylists and makeup artists completes the services.
But much of Nelly D. Janian is also red carpet-ready – goddess gowns in saturated jewel colors with thigh-high slits; sweeping ball gowns with cascading trains; high-low cocktail numbers with tiered layers of tulle; columnar creations that accentuate every curve; and dresses made of ruched strapless bodices with sweetheart necklines, jeweled belts and flowing skirts.
It’s a craft that the siblings learned in part from their glamorous mother, who was born in Bulgaria and raised in Marseille, where she became head assistant for Dior. A photograph would change her life. The Garabedians’ father, Eugene, a cousin of Nelly’s, saw a picture of her in 1954. They married a week later and shortly thereafter headed to the United States, where Nelly worked with her husband in Garabedian Trimming Co. as well as for De la Renta and Manual Pertegaz, among other designers, all while having five children. Gary and Linda said they started sewing at age 9. But it was watching their mother put 10,000 Swarovski crystals on a gown when they were teenagers that fired them to take up their sketch pads.
Now, they’re looking to expand the business – which has grown through Gary attending bridal shows and by word of mouth – into movie and TV costumes, a fitting segue for a fashion company that is putting its own dramatic stamp on haute couture.
For more, visit nellydjanian.com.