Watters Designer Spotlight
Ethereal, dramatic, and endlessly inspiring, Watters gowns offer a wedding day look unlike any other. Founder Vatana Watters started her namesake brand more than 30 years ago, inspired by the custom dresses she was already making for family, friends, and herself. Now, the Watters family of brands also includes Wtoo and Willowby, all designed with her daughter, Style Director Sydney Watters Dunbar, by her side. We chatted with Sydney to learn more about their inspiration and approach to bridal style.
“Our brides are a constant source of inspiration; their unique perspectives feed our creativity.”
— Sydney Watters Dunbar
Our Q&A With Sydney
Q: How did Watters get started?
A: Vatana grew up with a love for fashion and would design one-off dresses for herself. In 1985, she decided to turn that into a business for brides who wanted their bridesmaids to look less cookie-cutter, and it took off. Eventually, she cultivated a group of very talented individuals and they decided to take the plunge into bridal to dress the star of the wedding.
Q: How did you choose your brand names?
A: Watters is the last name of our founder and CEO, and we love how classic it sounds. Wtoo was the second addition to our family of brands, so we shortened Watters to W and added the ‘Too!’ Our most recent brand, Willowby, was a team decision. We knew we needed it to start with a W and we wanted something dreamy to represent the values of the brand. Once we narrowed down our list, we were all drawn to Willowby and it just made sense.
Q: What inspires your designs?
A: We find inspiration everywhere—architecture, our travels, different cultures we’ve experienced, and within our team. It takes a lot of creativity to refresh each season. Surrounding ourselves with an open-minded, worldly, and talented team makes for an unparalleled experience. Our brides are also a constant source of inspiration; their unique perspectives feed our creativity and we love seeing how they style our gowns for their big day.
Q: What are some hallmarks of Watters designs?
A: We are the queens of soft, flowy, and romantic skirts! We’ve always loved a gorgeous bodice full of detail paired with a whimsical skirt, and we strive to be at the forefront on how to make this classic style new. We also love experimenting with unique embroidery, beading, lace placement techniques, and even some out-of-the-box colors.
Q: How would you describe the Watters bride?
A: The Watters bride is captivating when she steps into the aisle, and her style appears effortless. We try to channel a cool-girl style when designing gowns and showcase the Watters personality through materials, design details, and comfort.
Q: What is your favorite decade of fashion?
A: The 70s! Vatana grew up with 70s style in sunny San Diego. We love the era’s design details, from the amazing sleeves and florals of the early 70s to the sequins and narrow, plunging V-necks found later in the decade.
Q: What is your favorite historic wedding gown?
A: Grace Kelly’s is a forever classic. We love the intricate lace bodice—something that will never go out of style—paired with a voluminous skirt. The regal look is perfect for bridal.
Q: What advice would you give to brides who are in the process of defining their wedding style?
A: Keep an open mind and try on styles outside your comfort zone. You may be pleasantly surprised! Also, it’s your big day—don’t let others influence your style!