West News Wire: Hedda Kleinfeld Schachter, a pioneer in the wedding industry and Holocaust survivor who believed that brides deserved better than mass-produced garments, passed away in Manhattan. She was 99 years old.
The news of her death on March 29 has been quietly spreading, earning her accolades and highlighting her decades-long influence on a sector that had previously provided few options for would-be brides before she increased the options and drew women to her Brooklyn firm from all over the world.
She stated in an interview from 1985 that “You are creating a heroine on a stage,” according to Women’s Wear Daily. The bride is on show, so we need to edit and direct the client so they can visualize her in front of a chandelier or other stunning backdrop.
A posting about the death on the website of the Bridal Council, a non-profit organization of industry powerbrokers, contained comments from Barbara Tober, former editor-in-chief at Brides magazine. She said Schachter “brought new life, new designs, new elegance and certainly prosperity to the world of bridal.”
She added: “We are all better off because Hedda led the charge when we most needed a ‘role model.’”
Born in Vienna, Austria, the woman known more commonly as Miss Hedda and other family members escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to Cuba. A year later, they moved to Brooklyn, where her father opened a store that initially specialized in furs but would later become I. Kleinfeld & Son.
And a year after that, she was married to Jacob Schachter, who died in 2008.
By the late 1960s, Schachter began importing wedding dresses from Europe and sales quickly accelerated, leading the business to become primarily wedding gowns within a decade.
By the 1990s, it was selling thousands of dresses a year after Schachter worked to transform the industry by encouraging designers with other specializations to put their creativity to work on wedding dresses and by searching the world for new trends and designs.
Also in the 1990s, the company changed ownership several times while continuing to capitalize on the Kleinfeld name. That reputation helped it to become the setting in 2007 for the reality show “Say Yes to the Dress.” The store had moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan only two years earlier.
The New York Times quoted Schachter’s son, Robert, as saying that her death resulted from an intestinal blockage.