Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing P’Nina Tornai, one of the world’s top couture wedding dress designers. An exclusive designer for Kleinfeld’s in North America, P’Nina’s attention to detail and custom Swarovski bead work make her dresses one of a kind and desirable to fans and brides worldwide. Not only is she an incredibly talented woman, she is kind with the sweetest way about her – so lovely that you can’t resist smiling as she talks and just want to give her a huge hug.
Read on to learn more about this one of a kind designer.
What is your process?
I always bring out new dresses regardless of my runway collection that I have once a year. I show always in October for Bridal Market but whenever I have an inspiration I create my dresses, I don’t wait for a collection. I don’t work like other designers. I didn’t study fashion. I feel something inside of me, it’s like a volcano and I create whatever comes from my heart.
Which piece is your favourite out of what you’re showing today?
That’s like asking a mother who is her favourtie child! But this is my current favourite. You can also wear it to an event as it also comes in black. I choose certain dresses to also be part of my evening collections so they’re both in bridal and evening.
Are these crystals custom, they’re incredible
Yes, we invent them. They don’t exist anywhere. We work closely with Swarovski to create a look as if they’re hand drawn so they’re very unique and one of a kind.
Tell me about your newest collection, Love
Love by P’Nina Toure was created because for so many years throughout my career I’ve been getting all of these letters and messages from brides saying that they love my dresses, that it’s there dream to wear one of my dresses but they cannot afford one. So these brides from all around the world have really touch my hearts and because I’m known as one of the most expensive designers because my work is different, so detailed and handmade I decided to make a new collection that I’ve been working on for a whole year now called Love. Love because I’ve decided I wanted to give back all of the love that I’ve received from brides over the years that have loved my work but haven’t been able to afford it. So all of these dresses in this collection are under $5,000.00. They’re accessible, affordable with the P’Nina fit and detail.
What advice would you give to a bride to-be who’s looking for her dream dress?
The number one thing I would say to a bride who’s looking for her dream dress is to follow her heart. Choosing a wedding dress is not like choosing any other dress. It’s karmatic, something above shopping for a dress, it’s a dress that will embellish you on the most important day of your life. So it needs to be something you connect with 100%.
Follow your heart and enjoy every second of the journey because it ends. It’s once and you want to look back at it in a positive light without any stress. Just enjoy. Your heart will tell you when it’s the right dress just like it told you when it was the right man.
Thank you for such a lovely interview P’Nina! Your dresses are just as fabulous as you are!
Every year, usually around the month of May, I love going to Montreal to experience what’s new and happening in the city. The city is forever changing and I love to keep up with what to do, where to stay and most importantly, where to eat! Montreal to me is just the perfect location to visit for us Torontonians where it’s far enough and culturally different enough that you actually feel like you’re on a holiday, even if it’s for a few days. There’s so much to see and to do, I never quite know where to start but I love that I’m always discovering something new, which is so fun. Without further ado, here are my top 6 faves this time around!
1. Restaurant Hà
If you’re in the mood for delicious, simple yet modern Vietnamese food in a cool atmosphere, Restaurant Hà is just the place for you. Located in Mont-Royal hood of the city, Restaurant Hà is a cute neighbourhood joint. Montrealers love a good patio and Restaurant Hà has a great one. If you don’t get a spot on the “terrasse”, don’t worry; the restaurant has 65 seats inside. Super friendly staff, great place for a casual dinner while you’re in the city, makes a reservation if you don’t want to be disappointed!
2. Quartier Saint-Henri
I didn’t want to do this. I really didn’t want to do this. When Catriona came back to the office after an exciting meeting with Nike about their upcoming women’s 15 km run, I didn’t share her excitement. As she previously mentioned in a post, the good folks at Nike selected her to put together a team of people to run the race. As she was enthusiastically explaining this 9-week program to me, I kept drifting in and out of the conversation into my own thoughts.
You see, for as long as I can remember, possibly around the age of 20, I’ve lived with chronic lower back pain. The pain gets worst around my period. Furthermore, last year, as I was crossing the street, I didn’t notice the construction work in front of me and I fell and sprained my ankle, I’m still recovering from that too. All of this to say is that I didn’t see myself as a possible member of the #ccruncrew nor did I want to. I was very happy sticking to the status quo, which, consisted of regular exercise that I mastered and that I was actually good at. Why would I ever want to challenge myself and possibly do something like running that 1) terrified me 2) that I didn’t want to do. As Catriona and I sat down to put the names of her crew together, I substituted my name for Bugs Bunny’s until she noticed it and made me add my name back. It will change your life she said, you CAN do this she said. My reluctant self didn’t want to hear it. I kept focusing on the reasons why I wouldn’t be able to do it, reminded her of my physical limitations, why couldn’t she just “get it” I asked myself. I was the ultimate Negative Nancy.
We receive quite a few emails asking questions or providing topics for us to address on the blog (keep sending them!) and I’m just finally finding time to process some of them. I chose this particular email because it was something I could relate to but also something I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about and wanted to hear some other people’s opinions. This was the question:
i’m wondering if you guys would be interested in doing a article about raising bi-racial children from a perspective of a parents as well as what the future holds for the kids…. i see a lot of articles and i love the way you guys write and your opinions but I haven’t seen you guys do anything to this sort.
Hope to hear back.
After thinking about this question quite a bit I realized, first and foremost, I hadn’t thought about this a lot at all. Being born biracial to me is the only thing I know so when I was pregnant with my daughter I didn’t really think much about the fact that she would be essentially one quarter Jamaican and three Scottish (my husband is of mostly Scottish ancestry – he thinks….). I thought I would do my best to love her, educate her and lead by the best example possible. It wasn’t until I was at Shopper’s Drug Mart one weary morning with my blue eyed bouncing baby on my hip and the cashier asked me “How long are you babysitting for?” that I finally felt the sharp dagger of the reality of race and was instantly transported to the place my mother was, some thirty years earlier being congratulated for taking up a good cause and adopting (saving) a brown baby.
Imagine what the Lovings (pictured above) felt being arrested for their marriage…. Thankfully their union and subsequent arrest was brought before the supreme court and became the landmark case that brought down the law prohibiting interracial marriage.
Being biracial – something that I now think deserves it’s own post, judging from this Instagram query – is different if only for the fact that you don’t pull from one cohesive identity. If this proposition is met by two parties (or one very hardworking one) willing to contribute to the raising of a child aware of their background and strong in their sense of being, it’s a beautiful thing that breeds acceptance and open mindedness almost intrinsically. It can also create huge feelings of not belonging – too black to be white, too white to be black – and an uneasy sense of self.
While all of these emotions may come up, I think the best thing you can do as a parent -as my parents wholeheartedly did for me- is love your children. I was so loved so much that I knew any question I had, any feeling of uncertainty or not belonging, I could bring it home and have a talk with my parents. They gave me the confidence to find my way.
Before I write an essay on this, I’ve asked a few of my friends (including my mother) who happen to have biracial children of all different mixes to speak on this topic.
Liz Smart, former teacher and Head of Department, my favourite person, my mother.
Yes, your Dad and I did give it some thought and talked about it. We were perhaps somewhat naive. People who cared about us told us that you children would have challenges. However we have always been of the positive perspective and just thought that because we loved each other and were secure in our own backgrounds that we would be able to raise confident children with good self esteem. We made a point of making sure that you were exposed to both cultures and countries. We were fortunate that we could afford to do this and that our families were more than supportive. Honestly, we never ever doubted the support from our families. It did mean that all holidays and I mean ALL were spent in Jamaica or Scotland, so no Disneyland holidays for you. Sorry ’bout that! Then again, I think the real deal of these beautiful countries more than outweighs Disneyland any day!
I remember a friend telling us that he was very straight with his children, telling them that they were black and would have problems and be discriminated against without a doubt and they had better accept that fact. Well, we didn’t do that. I sometimes wonder if we should have – one never knows for sure if one did the right thing – but what we did do is deal with whatever situation came up as it happened. Of course that would mean that you as children would tell us about it, and hopefully you did. Most of all, we tried to let you know that you were each unique human beings, with your own gifts, who are very loved and we would support you no matter what. Unconditional love. What good parent doesn’t try to do that?
Michele Pedro, Real Estate Agent and all around amazing woman:
Throughout my pregnancy I would imagine this beautiful bi racial child inside of me and when I imagined what her life would be like, I was beyond excited to know that she would grow up with not only the Filipino traditions that I was raised with but also the Italian ones that her Father’s side of the family would introduce her to. It’s great! Having 2 different cultural influences just means more fun stuff to do and learn. We have asked my daughter’s grandparents to speak to her in their native tongues, Italian and Filipino (Tagalog) in hopes that she might one day be able to communicate in those languages.
Although I am proud to refer to myself and my daughter as “Canadian”, I still really want to identify with my parents’ ethnicity and want my daughter to identify with the ethnicities of her parents and grandparents as well. My partner’s grandparents as well as my grandparents were born outside of Canada and continue to have strong ties to the countries they were born in. With each new generation, these ties become looser. My daughter might be the last generation to know a relative who was born in Italy or The Philippines so it’s important to me and also to her grandparents to see that she is making a connection with the cultures of her ancestors.
She’s only 6 months so I haven’t done a lot of “raising” so far. I never really had a “plan” specifically for raising a Biracial child mostly because I never thought twice about needing to do anything different than if she were a uni-racial (?) child. But now that I think about it, I’d actually like to raise her as “multi-racial”. I would like to enroll her in a French immersion school and maybe when she gets older explore some other sort of cultural learning in other areas like maybe Salsa dancing or Chinese cooking classes. I would like to take her to all the events in Toronto that celebrate different cultures (taste of the danforth, caribana parade etc) I hope to raise this open minded, kind, empathetic, multi racial child who may look half Asian and half European but be Worldly in her knowledge of people and their cultures.
In my local mommy-baby group, more than half of the babies are bi racial. And now that I think about it, nobody in the group has ever mentioned it because it’s not unusual. I don’t think anyone in the group has even noticed. It’s a normal day for me to be strolling my daughter through the park here in downtown Toronto and see many people of mixed race or see groups of people of different ethnic backgrounds sitting together. When I was growing up, all of my best friends were of different ethnicities (Italian, Jamaican, Scottish, French, Greek etc etc) and I loved going to their family gatherings and eating their food and seeing how their families interacted.
I want to raise my daughter to have a strong sense of her identity and to also be curious of other cultures. I want her to embrace her uniqueness and love herself for it.
Nana Aba Duncan: Radio host, producer, writer, insanely talented, grounded and wonderful human.
I have been told I have a typical Ghanaian face; I have seen my own features on others in Ghana. My skin is dark and I have very, very curly hair that I wear in locs. My husband was born to English parents and is white. His hair is brown and straight. We’re both born to immigrant parents, but as you can imagine people ask me about my ethnic background much more often. Our daughter is two years old and looks like my husband. Her skin colour and hair is a perfect mix of ours. People do notice us on public transit and often say our daughter is cute.