By Libby Herz
She hails from Italy, famous for high-quality clothing and beautiful designs. “Growing up in Italy helped me see a beauty and elegance that you don’t see on the Brooklyn subway,” says the fashion designer. Chanchy Schmukler “When I grew up as a framer, I wanted to combine the worlds of zines and fashion,” says the Italian, who currently lives in Crown Heights. Chanci’s desire for a fusion of both worlds led to the creation of her own label – Damigella, which translates to ‘bride’ in Italian. Damigella offers evening gown rentals, plus a line of cocktail dresses and casual pieces for sale.
Chanchi’s first foray into fashion design was when she was looking for a dress to wear to her sister’s wedding. She struggles to find something that matches her standards in both tznius and fashion. After perusing many jewelers and bridal shops, she finally designed her own gown and had it tailored in Israel.
After the wedding, the friend asked to borrow the dress. Then Chanchi got another question. And the questions just didn’t stop coming in. “I’ve rented that dress twenty times,” she says.
When Chanchi’s husband saw how popular the dress was, he came up with an idea. “Why don’t you start making dresses?” he asked.
After Chanchi asks to borrow her dress, she designs and hires a Crown Heights seamstress. In his plans, the new designer began to look for the right fabric. “I was driving to buy fabric with my newborn in tow,” she laughs.
It was worth the effort, and Chanchi’s design was stunning. Women love his elegant and unique style. She created a few more styles and opened her own gown rental line featuring original formal wear pieces.
The designer then moved to a Manhattan office where he designed a number of Zenies cocktail dresses. “My first dress was a dream l’chaim dress,” says Chanchi. “That’s how I started the first line.”
The dresses for sale were in high demand, so Chanchi went into business designing casual pieces. “It was a lot of work,” she recalls. “It took a lot of sleepless nights and going back and forth to make big decisions with the kids!” But I never lost sight of her goal of creating beautiful pieces that were completely tznius.
Creating a brand while raising a young family is not for the faint of heart. “At the beginning of my third pregnancy, I started the first four pieces, I had two toddlers and I felt very nauseous,” says the young mother. She launched her second informal winter collection the day after her baby’s wean. “Both collections were launched at very busy times in my life,” she says. Experience has taught her that she is capable of more than she thought.
Still, launching her new line was challenging. “My family lives far away in Italy, but thanks to my mom, she stayed longer so we could do all the ordering and packing.” In the past month, Demigella has launched seven more casual pieces and four cocktail dresses, bringing the total number of gowns she has designed to thirty.
And there’s always more to do. “I have ideas to grow more, and incorporate styles that I think are lost. I design pieces that I’ve always wanted and never been able to find. Things that are cute and quirky at the same time.”
Women are constantly reaching out and thanking Chanchi for creating beautiful solutions. “The woman who found me on Instagram,” says Chanchi. “When she saw one of Damigella’s dresses, she was looking for something beautiful and tznius. She was surprised to find something so perfect and up to her tznius standards. She admired her beauty and that there was no compromise on tznius. I booked an order for her kid’s kiddush. I realized how satisfying it was when she thanked me; to people’s homes, events And I’m getting into life, and I’m making a difference. When I feel discouraged in the ups and downs of the business, I remember that’s why I started this. That’s my main focus.
You can reach Damigella on Instagram @damigella.cs or by email: Damigellagowns@gmail.com. Check out their website: www.damigellashop.com. Right now, you can get a 30% off sale with code WINTER30.