“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that bling” is Sondra Celli’s exclusive approach to fashion industry, and her Swaroski-glittered garments stand to prove just that.
Celli’s elegant studio in Waltham is the epicenter of her unique and creative work. Since 2010, Celli’s fancy couture has even been recognized nationally on TLC’s hit “My Big Fat American Gipsy Wedding.”
Fashion has certainly been Celli’s world since she was born. In fact, she is the daughter of dress diva Yolanda Cellucci.
At 15, Celli went to design school in Italy, France, England, Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark.
“Studying fashion in Italy was an unforgettable experience,” she says, “I remember going to Emilio Pucci’s studio and all the women were in Pucci print dresses, the rags and the furniture were all covered in Pucci prints. I never forgot how cool and inspirational it was.”
After that experience, Celli went to Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she graduated with a major in men’s wear.
“After I graduated I went into the men’s business for a while, then somebody saw my work and offered me a freelance job in Italy which was more creative than men’s wear. I started to enjoy making women’s wear during my beginnings in Italy,” she says.
In 1984, she opened her own business called “The Sondra Celli Company” in Waltham. Celli believes that success is creating any bride’s dream wedding dress with the perfect touch of glitz and innovation as well as understanding her customer’s needs.
As a smart business woman and a creative designer, Celli also knows how to satisfy her wide variety of clients. Her glittery projects include Bat Mitzvahs, communions, christenings, proms, swim team outfits, ballroom dresses, Irish step dancer costumes, drag-queen fashions, and so much more.
“There isn’t anything we have that doesn’t have bling,” Celli says. “We even rhinestone toilet paper for gypsies with their crystal initials on the first piece.”
The fascination with gypsy culture and style came after Celli was called upon to provide most outfits for the reality show “My Big Fat American Gipsy Wedding,” which features Celli’s sparkly and out of the ordinary wedding dresses for the Gypsy brides. “My Big Fat American Gipsy Wedding” plays in more than 30 countries all over the world and it’s been very successful since launching in 2010.
“It wasn’t my goal to be on TV,” Celli says. “The producers of the show approached me and asked me if I would do it. I knew everything about Gypsies so they gave me the job. It’s amazing and I love to do it.
“When I started my own company I was designing sweaters with crystals on them. I was selling them to all the major department stores. The gypsies saw my name in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar so they started to call me but I didn’t know that I was selling to gypsies. They kept ordering and ordering and I thought it was really crazy because everyone was ordering from the same street. I called a friend of mine and she said: “Honey you’re shipping to a trailer park, you’re selling to Gypsies. And I asked, “What’s a gipsy? I didn’t know what a gipsy was.” Celli says.
“Gypsies like my style because I make fancy things and a lot of trimming but most importantly they trust me. They’ve known me for so long and give me complete freedom.
“I’ve always been inventive when making something. When I was very young, the materials weren’t available to me, so if I wanted feathers I would rip them out of a feather duster. If I wanted fabric, I would cut my mother’s curtains or towels.”
Glitter, creativity and color are Celli’s way of expressing her own persona in everything she does in life.
“If I hadn’t become a fashion designer, I would be a chef,” she says. “I’m Italian and I love to cook. I am very creative with my own dishes — they need to have color, look appealing and festive. My cheesecake is always wrapped in Swarosky crystals,” she says, with a wink.
For more, visit Sondra Celli’s official website: sondracelli.com