Tying the knot with style

JUST MARRIED

Halla Elias And William Calvert

January 23, 2000|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Radiant in a gown of fuchsia and purple crepe, Halla Elias outshone even the most beautiful tropical flowers at her Barbados wedding. But that was no surprise to her family and friends, because her husband-to-be, fashion designer William Calvert, had created her gown.

William is the Baltimore native who's made a splash in the fashion world with the elegant line of couture and wedding gowns bearing his name. A graduate of the Gilman School who still has strong ties here even though he is now based in New York, William has created evening wear that's attracted the attention of respected designers like Geoffrey Beene. Even his participation in a fashion show for dogs (a charity benefit) merited a mention in the New York Times last year. (He designed a taffeta jumpsuit for a Gordon setter.)

Halla, also a designer, has earned plenty of notice on her own. Hallabaloo, her line of specialty dresses and other items for babies and little girls, is sold in a handful of high-end specialty stores and boutiques internationally.

William and Halla met in 1987 when they were students at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. Cast as boyfriend and girlfriend in a play, the couple took two years to realize they ought to be playing the same roles in real life.

But the script changed slightly during William's last year at school. They broke up when he went to study in Italy. Halla graduated and returned to her native Barbados. The couple reunited, however, and in the early 1990s lived together in that most romantic of cities, Paris.

In December 1994, while spending the holidays in Baltimore with his family, William brought Halla to Charm City's glittering 34th Street in Hampden. There, on Christmas Eve, amid holiday lights and decorations the likes of which Halla had never seen, William proposed.

But because they were busy establishing their fashion lines and building their careers, the couple never got around to setting a wedding date. In November, after a nearly five-year engagement, William and Halla finally decided the time was right.

So, with little planning and even less fanfare, Halla, 33, and William, 30, were married Jan. 2. The couple were wed in a simple yet stylish affair on the beach along Consett Bay. The bride was barefoot. William accented his ivory wedding suit with a yellow shirt and flip-flops.

William's brother George was best man, and Halla's sister, Judyann Ruderman, was matron of honor. The 60 guests included William's parents, G. Davis and Joanne Calvert of Pinehurst, as well as Halla's parents, Odil and Leila Elias of Christ Church, Barbados.

Even though William had designed his bride's dress, there was still an element of surprise when he saw her at the ceremony. William actually came up with five different designs for the gown, including some in traditional white -- though he confides that he never expected Halla to go for those. Halla chose the design she wanted -- after making a few alterations. William's assistant then made the gown.

After a brief honeymoon in Barbados (the wedding was the culmination of a two-week vacation), Halla and William are already back at work in their Fifth Avenue studio in New York. The couple hope to take a longer honeymoon late this spring -- "between shows."

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