From the Ashes of Europe to the Wedding Aisles of New York City

Guest blog by Michelle Roth

I was born in Sydney Australia in the late 1950's. My parents are Holocaust survivors; I was immersed in the creativity of my own parent's bridal business "Henri Josef" from a young age. As young as I can remember. I always felt I was born to do something great in my life, as my parents had been denied so much.

My parents wanted to afford me all the things that were stolen from them as children. Their efforts concentrated on survival, whilst cheating the death camps of Europe. College education would be my privilege of liberty. And so an education was a top priority. As was, dancing lessons, singing lessons, guitar class, gymnastics and opera singing lessons. I was "deep fried" with stimulus.

As a child, dinner conversations centered on lace, silk satin, tulle and embroidery. I thought that was what all kids did at dinner. Talk about design and business! My school vacations were spent at my parent's atelier, consumed in patterns, fabric, sketching and draping. International buying trips landed me at the fashion centers of the world including Paris, Rome, London, Milan and New York. Design was a lifestyle. Fashion experience and training lifelong.

In 1972, I completed high school. I was accepted to study at The University of Sydney, one of Australia's finest houses of learning. I do not think it was ever a question that I would not go to University. In 1978 I graduated with honors in political science.

In 1979, I decided that I wanted to join my parent's business. It was so second nature to me. I formally entered "Henri Josef" as junior designer alongside my mother, Aneta Weinreich. Four years later in 1984, whilst on a buying trip in New York City, I was offered a position at the Australian Consulate. I leapt at the opportunity, hungry to absorb and grow, joining an international milieu. It was something my parents not only supported, they
encouraged it.

This was not your typical' Chicken soup and clutching" Jewish parents. They wanted all of us (I have a Sister Lilian and Brother Henry who both now live in New York) to achieve greatness.

After 5 years of diplomatic service in New York City, two things were clear:  
I feel in love with The City and I decided to return to my first love, design.

I knew that I could source from generations of knowledge and experience that span three generations. In the 1900's Malka Sofa Schreiber, my paternal great grandmother from whom I am named, ran a bridal charity organization in Poland. My maternal grandfather Samuel Baral built a thriving upscale furrier import/export business in Krakow, Poland during the 1920's. My maternal grandmother, Franka Baral, ran her own major textile company in Australia after the war.

In 1992, I opened for business from my own small apartment. Dresses took most of the available space. I sold my parents collection, importing them directly from Australia. Then, in 1993, I moved to a small downtown space in the Bridal Building. I named my business," Michelle of Australia". I remember my first day of business was in the middle of a blizzard. My small show room was buzzing! I was surprised and overwhelmed by the response. The
sensitivity to color and the revolutionary use of silk satin won me attention. My pedantic attention to detail, and highly personalized service won me business.

In 1996 catapulted by the momentum of success of my studio I opened my European style multilevel loft salon on 57th street. I felt as If had come home. Featuring my own custom work, The Salon was called Michelle Bridal. Later to be renamed Michelle Roth, after I was married.

In 1997 my brother Henry joined me to help spearhead operations.

I have been gifted with a drive that comes deep within. Partly fueled by the fear of failure and partly by the pride I have for my cultural heritage and the dedication my parents have given me.

My mother Aneta repeats a phrase that rings often in my ears" whatever the mind can perceive can be achieved".

My father Joseph has the disposition of an angel. He is often quoted as saying' If I could live through the war, then every day after that can only be fantastic"

With that in mind I have been privileged to be featured on many coveted and respected national shows across the country and around the world including Martha Stewart Living, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Entertainment Tonight, The View and receive editorial features in Vogue, In Style, Town and Country, Elle and Glamour to mention a few.

The year 2000 was when I decided to launch my collection nationally. The response has been phenomenal. My evening collection is planned for a spring 2003 launch, with expansion into Europe and Japan, by the fall of 2003.

Product extensions in beauty, book launching and a ready to wear collection are in the works.

I believe whatever you do in life, do it with passion and conviction. We are all-unique and bring to this world one precious gift. The gift of individuality and self.