Photo Credit: Barrett Dennison/El Osito Films
Tess Mann is the owner of bridal store, Couture by Tess Bridal, and designs her own line of gowns under Couture by Tess and Tess Mann Haute Couture. Tess has been in the bridal industry since 2012. Prior to her formal entry into the industry, she had been designing since she was a young teenager, however, chose a different career path in order to serve her country for over 20 years as a federal officer. In September 2018, Tess became a US Trademark Designer with her designs being protected by the US Patent Office. After serving the Memphis, Tennessee area for a little over six years, Tess and her husband, Joe, opened Couture by Tess Bridal on 31 W. Broad Street in Cookeville, Tennessee in November of 2019. Tess is also the talk show host of Couture Chats with Tess on YouTube where she interviews fashion and event industry professionals.
Your bridal gown labels are Couture by Tess and Tess Mann Haute Couture. Your team recently produced the Travel Through Fashion Time fashion show in Nashville, Tennessee debuting two of your new collections. Tell us more.
My two latest collections were presented at our fashion show. The Nostalgia Collection is a new collection donning various fashion techniques from different eras while assimilating modern touches. New Discovery is a smaller collection that has utilized designs from previous Couture by Tess collections and re-imagined based on clients’ feedback over the years. None of this would be possible without our amazing team we assembled from production lighting to models to music. We had many VIP guests, editors and social media influencers in attendance. It was a dream come true.
What has been the public’s response since the fashion show?
We have had some wonderful feedback. One of the social media influencers, Abigail Breslin with Wanderlust Girls, was quoted as saying, “Look out Music City, Nashville might become Couture City thanks to creatives like Tess Mann.” It was such a nice compliment and I hope more fashion designers will step out and showcase their artistry, too. We immediately turned around and traveled to National Bridal Market Chicago where we had the opportunity to connect with retailers in various markets as well as present in their fashion show. We are grateful for all the connections we have made and the support we have received.
What is your background in fashion design?
In order to obtain additional funds for my college education, I began participating in the Miss America preliminary scholarship competitions as a young woman, and subsequently realized I needed a formal evening gown. Not being able to afford a luxurious competition gown, my mother and I began designing and I created several sketches throughout my college education. I continued designing for fun throughout my life, however, my career focused on my education in psychology and criminology. In 1997, I moved in a different direction choosing to serve my country as a Federal Law enforcement officer. However, I never lost my love of creating luxury designs. Upon approaching retirement, I decided to return to the world of fashion and founded Couture by Tess Bridal in 2013 as a store and my own luxury gown fashion label. On September 18, 2018, I was recognized by the United States Patent Office as a legitimate designer and was awarded my trademark.
What is it that draws you to design?
So many things. I enjoy the entire process of designing from initial sketch to final product to the beautiful bride who will wear a gorgeous piece of artwork on the most special day of her life. From the selection of textiles used to drawing the artwork for my own custom lace fabrics, every step brings joy to the creation journey.
What trends do you see on the horizon?
I was recently discussing this topic with a popular local wedding planner on my YouTube show, Couture Chats with Tess. We are starting to notice the barn wedding trend and dried floral arrangements phase out, bringing forth a more garden party and Bridgerton style. What this means for fashion is more attention to fine textiles, detailed embroidery, color and the overall craftsmanship of design with a penchant for traditional quality. A sneak peek of “Le Jardin” Collection sketches and embroideries may be presented at the July fashion show.
Which brings up another question: You host a YouTube show called Couture Chats with Tess on Youtube. Tell us more.
Couture Chats with Tess invites the public into our Cookeville, Tennessee-based boutique, Couture by Tess Bridal, for interesting conversations and a peek inside my world. People have always been curious about the behind-the-scenes insider scoop of my fashion career. Now fashion and weddings can take center stage with a click of the play button. Anyone can join me for fun and informative chats with local celebrity guests, influencers, entrepreneurs and inspiring people involved in my life. Viewers can follow our channel as I take you inside my boutique’s cozy parlor where we highlight the latest trends and most interesting topics in the fashion, entertainment and wedding industry.
As the owner of Couture by Tess Bridal boutique in Tennessee, tell us what makes your store’s luxury designs adored by brides?
In addition to the Couture by Tess and Tess Mann Haute Couture labels, we also support and carry other designers’ work in our Tennessee-based boutique called Couture by Tess Bridal. The other designers we work with have been carefully selected and hold the same standard of excellence that the Couture by Tess Bridal brand stands for. Our bridal clients receive 5-star customer service as is reflected in our hundreds of reviews online. We want every bride to have their dream wedding dress and will do anything we can to make their dream a reality.