Ethiopian-American Bridal Designer Amsale Aberra Dies at 64

Ethiopian-American fashion designer, Amsale Aberra, who pioneered couture wedding gown designs, esp. at her her flagship on Madison Avenue in New York City, NY died on Sunday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where she was being treated for uterine cancer.

By Rosemary Feitelberg (WWD) |

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y.―Amsale Aberra, founder, co-owner and creative director of the Amsale label, died Sunday (April 1, 2018) at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

The 64-year-old designer died of uterine cancer, according to a company spokeswoman.

After rejecting the over-the-top wedding gown options of the high-rolling Eighties, Amsale Aberra decided to design her own wedding dress in 1985. The following year she built from that experience and started her namesake business, specializing in custom-designed wedding dresses. She landed her first wholesale account with Kleinfeld by trekking to Brooklyn, where the store was then located, to show her collection to Hedda Kleinfeld Schachter.

At that time, Amsale was cutting wedding gowns at her kitchen table and Kleinfeld, according to Mara Urshel, co-owner of Kleinfeld. “She really was a trendsetter in the business. She was the first one who really introduced very classic lines, beautiful clothes and getting away from all the old traditions of lace, beads and everything that really wasn’t modern anymore. She really created the modern wedding dress. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the money to promote it at the time that she did it. And a lot of other people kind of did the same thing later on.

“But she stayed true to her course. You could always tell an Amsale,” Urshel said.

Amsale Aberra’s husband Clarence O’Neill Brown, who serves as chief executive officer, said, “Amsale was not only an inspiration to the company, but someone who inspired and impacted everyone around her with her strength, kindness and humility. Working side-by-side, we spent 360 degrees of our life together, and I know only too well both her creative genius and her infinite goodness. Words cannot express the personal loss that we feel, but we are comforted by the avalanche of support we’ve received and the commitment of our team to carry on Amsale’s legacy.”

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