For as long as she can remember, Anne Barge has wanted to be a bridal gown designer. It all started around the tender age of three when her mother, who was an accomplished pianist and organist, began taking her to the many weddings for which she played. Though Anne had started playing the piano at the age of two and her mother would have loved her to pursue music, the fascination with wedding gowns was undeniably her life’s dream. So throughout her school years, Anne was always designing gowns for her paper dolls and school friends, always knowing one day it would be for real.
Just before graduating from college, Anne was practice teaching in Atlanta and saw an advertisement in the local newspaper that Priscilla of Boston would be appearing at a trunk show in a local store. Anne marched right down with her sketchbooks, and Priscilla, along with head designer, Jim Hjelm offered Anne the dream of a life time…….a job as an apprentice designer! After that, Anne returned to Atlanta where she worked in various capacities at Rich’s: fashion show production, display, managing four boutiques, and group merchandise manager at their largest branch. During that time, she designed and coordinated the entire wedding of the Georgia governor’s daughter. In 1981, she opened her own boutique, “Anne Barge for Brides” in the chic, upscale Buckhead section of Atlanta. It reflected her love and appreciation of classic, timeless elegance through the select, top couture designers she carried as well as the impeccable customer service that she offered. At this point, she began changing many designs through these designers in an effort to offer one-of-a-kind gowns to the brides. Things went well and in 1994, New York bridal giant, Kleinfeld, acquired the Anne Barge store, and Anne stayed on board managing and buying for the Saks Fifth Avenue bridal salons.
In 1996, British mogul, Richard Branson asked Anne to set up a bridal store in London for him. She became the managing director for Virgin Bride, and during this time designed a private label bridal line for the store. She also brought top American and European designers to the London store, introducing British brides to the clean, elegant simplicity completely different from the traditional English look prevalent at that time. Even the tradition of having only children as attendants changed when Anne introduced adult bridesmaid gowns to the UK.
Finally, in March of 1999, Anne launched the Anne Barge Bridal Collection which combined classic designs in the finest of silks with museum quality beading and embroidery….not before seen in the worldwide bridal market. Today the line is represented in Neiman Marcus and the finest stores throughout the country, UK, Spain and Japan. With an atelier above Atlanta’s Four Seasons Hotel, her own private label and an international presence, she has made her life long dream a reality. The gowns have been featured in magazines and newspapers internationally as well as having been selected as the winner for the 2003 Today Show Throws a Wedding.
Visit www.AnneBarge.com for more information and to see the collections.