Paula Varsalona… internationally recognized as one of the principal couturier designers of bridal apparel, has been a leader in the fashion industry for over 41 years. Situated in the heart of New York City’s Fashion District, Paula is the designer and manufacturer of the Paula Varsalona Group. Ms. Varsalona offers unique and personalized fashion statements for every bride and special occasion.
After earning her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis Missouri, it didn’t take long for Ms. Varsalona to recognize her calling and, in 1975, she founded Paula Varsalona Ltd. Since then the acclaim and success of the New York City based label has continued to flourish. Over 70,000 brides have donned Varsalona gowns for their weddings and the designs have made countless appearances in the media including the likes of Bride’s, Martha Stewart Weddings, USA Today, Entertainment Tonight, NBC’s The Apprentice II, and Lifetime’s 24 Hour Catwalk. In addition to being named one of the country’s ten bridal designers by New York Magazine. Ms. Varsalona’s gowns have also graced the red carpet. In fact, when Grey’s Anatomy’s Chandra Wilson snagged the 2007 SAG award for best actress, she offered an on-air thank you to the designer who dressed her, Ms. Varsalona. Chandra also donned a Varsalona when she hosted the red carpet at the 2008 Daytime Emmy Awards. Most recently she designed a special wedding gown for Bebe Neuwirth’s “Special Day”.
The newest collection is no exception to the proven sensation that has consistently been Paula’s trademark. This season pure silk taffetas and Dupioni silks are joining feminine details such as imported lace, Swarovski crystals, pleated flounces, and soft floral embellishments. Accompanying the bridal designs is Ms. Varsalona’s Red Carpet Collection, a more recent and wonderfully successful line of special occasion gowns. Paula has actually had the unique opportunity to dress her brides again as they are now the Mother of the Bride. Aside from considerably filling a void in the market, these pieces also serve the ever popular “destination” wedding when worn in white or ivory.
Paula is a charter member and currently on the board of the IBMA (International Bridal Manufacturers Association) serving as Secretary/Treasurer. In 1991 She received The first D.E.B.I. Couture Award for Distinctive Excellence in the Bridal Industry from Modern Bride Magazine.
Most recently, Ms. Varsalona has served as Adjunct Professor at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), New York, where she teaches with Bridal and Special Occasion Apparel as her specialties. She was the recipient of the 2013 Calvin Klien Grant to FIT, to assist and support upper division/8th semester students for their senior thesis. Most recently advocated an award for a graduate specializing in both Bridal and Cocktail which will be given yearly from the International Bridal Manufacturers Association.
Whether Paula is doing Trunk Shows across the country or teaching as an Adjunct Professor at FIT, she always keeps busy…
Outside the Industry…Serving the community
- Paula Varsalona Marino was one of the first female members of Montville UNICO and one of the first females to vote at the National level. She was named “Person of the Year” in 2006 by Montville UNICO. Ms. Varsalona was the first female member of the Board of Trustees of the UNICO National Foundation. In 2008, she was acclaimed as “Woman of the Year” by the Center for Italian and Italian-American Culture. In 2013 Ms. Varsalona received the Joseph CIanci award in Florida from UNINO National. She is the 2nd female to ever receive this coveted award, the first being Mother Theresa. Together, Ms. Varsalona and Mr. Marino are members of NIAF (National Italian American Foundation).
- On March 3, 2012, as chairperson of the Dorothy Varsalona Cancer Fund, Paula raised $21,000 of the $50,000 grant for the Jimmy V Foundation, to benefit the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, through UNICO. A Cancer fun was then set up in her mother’s name in UNICO National Foundation with the remains of the funds.
- Ms. Varsalona holds the office of Vice Chargee de Mission and the rank of Officier Dame of La Chaine, of the New Jersey Chapter of Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs. Most recently hosting a “Downtown Abbey” dinner at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, NJ.
- Ms. Varsalona was on the Board of Trustees of Mount St. Dominic Catholic school for girls in North Caldwell, NJ and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2000. Paula served 27 years (3 terms) on the board.
- A 1967 alumni of Raytown High School in Raytown, MO, she was nominated to be one of their first Hall of Fame inductees in 2004.
- A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, MO, Ms. Varsalona is a member of their New York Regional Cabinet as well as a member of the National Council for the Sam Fox School of Art & Architecture where she serves on the Scholarship Committee.
- A member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild), Ms. Varsalona was featured in national screen and print commercials/ads giving a testimonial for Mercedes Benz ‘S’ Class Auto.
- In November 2009, Paula was named “Woman of the Year” by The Center for Italian and Italian American Culture, where she now serves on their Board of Trustees.
- In April 2010, she was named “Best 50 Women in Business, NJ, 2010” by Wachovia Bank.
- In February 2012 she was a contestant on Lifetime’s “24 Hour Catwalk”.
- Ms. Varsalona and her husband have lived in Montclair for 38 years and have a daughter, Alexandra.