Seams of Faith

Belk stores across the Southeast will feature Faith Thornburg’s bridal designs

Whether you are walking through a blooming Savannah square, relaxing on the beach or looking out from the balcony of a historic mansion, the same thought comes to mind: this is a perfect spot to get married. Savannah fashion designer Faith Thornburg received the same inspiration from these romantically-steeped surroundings and, with Savannah weddings as her muse, created collection of bridal dresses that are now offered at Belk department stores across the Southeast.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Thornburg did not experience Southern weddings firsthand as a child. But instead of going out with her friends on Friday night, a young Thornburg would bury herself in bridal magazines that her mother had bought. Although she was fascinated with design—the elegance of clean lines, the power of color and texture—she felt that more a practical field such as architecture would be the focus of her career.

“I loved bridal fashion so much that I didn’t think I could actually make a career out of it,” Thornburg recalls. The fashion industry in general, however, had hooked Thornburg by the time she was in high school and brought her to Georgia to study at Savannah College of Art & Design. She quickly found that her wariness of the tough, competitive nature of fashion was warranted, and felt discouraged. At the same time, wedding season had begun.

“Every Saturday in Savannah, I would see a wedding somewhere,” Thornburg says. “It definitely inspired me. I fell back in love with bridal fashion, but this time I also fell in love with the idea that it could be a career.”

Although Thornburg was not readily encouraged to focus on one aspect of fashion, it proved to be the right move for her. Her debut collection was part of Charleston Fashion Week, where her bridal designs caught the attention of representatives from Belk. They encouraged her to enter their Southern Designer Showcase.

“I submitted, thinking nothing of it,” Thornburg says. “To my surprise, I made the semi-finals, and was asked to go present my collection at Belk’s headquarters.”

Soon after, Thornburg was ecstatic to learn that she was among fifteen designers who won the competition. The other designers had different specialties, such as children’s wear or shoes, so the bridal part of Belk’s 2013 line belongs to Thornburg.

Thornburg is currently touring to several Belk stores to participate in what are called trunk shows.

“I travel to different cities and Belk basically sets up a bridal store within their store while I’m there,” Thornburg says. She has already noticed certain preferences and trends among the southern bride-to-be’s.

“Southern brides tend to prefer soft fabrics, like chiffon and organza, and they love the classic look of lace,” Thornburg says. “It’s a whimsical, romantic look. I’ve found that northern brides go for heavier fabrics and bigger ball gowns with the beaded embellishments. You know, the princess gowns.”

“One trend I’ve seen from all the women is the desire to have their personality come out in their dress,” Thornburg says. “They don’t want to be a cookie-cutter bride, they want to be set apart. So they are not only willing, but asking, to try something different.”

The question Thornburg hears most is what she will do when she finds the love of her life.

“I try not to think about it too much,” Thornburg says with a laugh. “I try not to save sketches or anything like that. But I’m sure I will want to design it when that day comes.”
  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
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St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000