Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 14
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

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Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

CUSTOM COUTURE: “I always realized my love was for beautiful wedding gowns, and I liked elegance,” says designer Jean-Ralph Thurin, owner of Thurin Atelier. He is shown by a collection of his Luxe custom bridal gowns, offered in a variety of styles and designs.

Thurin Atelier, Luxury Bridal Design House, Offers an Elegant New Look on Nassau Street

That one perfect bridal gown. That dream dress you always imagined for your wedding. How wonderful when it is realized, and that it can be one-of-a-kind just for you.

Designer Jean-Ralph Thurin can make it happen. He has just opened his luxury bridal design house, Thurin Atelier, at 210 Nassau Street, featuring his bridal gown designs, as well as his exclusive line of evening and special occasion dresses.

“I wanted to offer Princeton customization in wedding dresses,” he explains. “I also love the glamour of evening wear and glamourous events.”

A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Mr. Thurin was interested in fashion from an early age. “I watched my grandmother sew and embroider in Haiti, and I was fascinated,” he explains.

The son of Haitian parents, he was born in the U.S. when his father was working in New York at the United Nations. The family lived abroad for many years, as his father was stationed at different posts.

“I also liked architecture,” he adds, “and I always loved the beauty of line. But when I graduated from high school, my dad said something very important: ‘Do something that when you get up every morning, you will love it.’ That did it — it was fashion design for me!”

Haute Couture

Mr. Thurin studied haute couture at Parsons, working with such celebrated designers as Oscar de la Renta. “We did a lot of very glamorous fashion shows,” he recalls, “and I loved the high society. I liked to think of the elegance of Jackie Kennedy.”

After working with designer Andrew Marc and others, he went into business for himself, and he has been designing his own custom line of wedding gowns and special occasion dresses, as well as his exclusive collection of evening shoes, jewelry, and accessories under the Thurin Atelier label for more than 15 years.

For the past three years, he was headquartered at an atelier (workshop) on Route 206 in Princeton, where he focused exclusively on custom gowns. On March 5, he opened his spacious salon at 210 Nassau Street, a perfect setting for his designs, including a ready-to-wear selection.

“I wanted to offer an elegant, old-world atmosphere in which people will feel special and welcome,” says Mr. Thurin.

Feminine With Flair

His true passion is for wedding gowns, and it is a very personal process. “My goal is for the client to feel happy in her gown. When I design, I think about what will make the bride look wonderful. Then she will feel wonderful too. Brides come in all shapes, sizes, and ages, and I design with all these differences in mind. Also, I really like people, and I am interested in their story. This is all part of it for me.

“I design for different categories,” he continues. “One is modern; that is, a clean line that evokes today’s style and trend, something that will appeal to a New York City bride. Second is romantic, a style that is very elegant and feminine. Third is destination, a chic look, something appropriate for the beach perhaps — a dress with movement that can flow with the wind. I design with the setting in mind. If it’s Italy, it might be a ‘Roman Holiday’ look. Fourth is vintage. This is feminine with flair, elegant trim, with brooches — I love brooches — a sense of the glory days of old Hollywood perhaps and the red carpet.”

Mr. Thurin points out that since he designs for brides of all ages, he is aware of their different tastes. “Sometimes, it will be a second marriage; other times a renewal of their vows. Older brides tend to like romantic or vintage styles of dress.”

He is a big fan of silk, and its beauty enhances many of his designs.

White remains the color of choice for wedding gowns, but it can be highlighted, he notes. “We can have ‘diamond’ white with a hint of ivory, or accents of pink or other soft pastels. These are very popular. Beading and embroidery are also favored, and it’s all hand-done. Sometimes, embroidery can be customized with the family crest or other meaningful designs.”

Custom Design

Mr. Thurin is also seeing requests for shorter wedding dresses, coming just below the knee, particularly if it is a more informal wedding.

Although he specializes in custom design, he now also offers a selection of ready-to-wear bridal and special occasion dresses in the salon. Alterations are available on site, if necessary.

“Many brides have become repeat customers who come back and ask us to make their special event dresses, and sometimes informal wear too,” he reports. “I also design communion dresses for young girls.

“And, this spring, turquoise, light gold, salmon, and black are especially popular for special occasion dresses.

Such colors are also favorites for bridesmaids, Mother-of-the-Bride and Mother-of-the-Groom dresses as well, and Mr. Thurin often designs for the entire wedding party.

His clients are far-flung, including from New York, Baltimore, Virginia, and California, in addition to Princeton.

Beautiful Detail

Customers are also intrigued by his exclusive collection of shoes, jewelry, and evening purses. Beautiful in every detail, they are an exceptional accessory to a wedding or special event.

Creating the bridal gowns is his great love, however, and his delight in it is evident. “I love seeing the joy of the client, when she sees the dress come to life. She has seen the sketches before, but then when she sees the actual dress — there’s nothing like that!

“Most of all, we look forward to making brides and clients happy, and customer service is a priority. We want people to feel welcome and important when they come here. This is just a dream come true for me.”

Mr. Thurin notes that he can work within the client’s budget. “Fabric choices vary, which affects price. It can be 100 percent silk, or a blend, which will all look beautiful.”

If a bride is interested in a custom design, she should plan on eight to 12 weeks waiting time.

Thurin Atelier is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday 10 to 8, Sunday 11 to 4, and Monday by appointment. (609) 924-2153, Website:

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