"My inspiration is finding the beauty within the women I dress"
- Paula Varsalona -
Paula Varsalona, internationally recognized as one of the principal couture designers of bridal apparel, has been a leader in the fashion industry for over 50 years.
As the designer of and manufacturer of the Paula Varsalona Group, Ms. Varsalona offers unique and personalized fashion statements for brides and mother’s.
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 been Paula Varsalona Ltd. 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. 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 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.
Recipient of the Cianci Award from UNICO National for her philanthropic work. Paula was the second woman to receive this award in their 100 year plus existence.
First woman on UNICO National Board of Trustees which donates to cancer research, armed services, mental health, Cooley’s Anemia, St. Jude’s Hospital, Educational Scholarships, and Food Pantries.
In 2008, she was acclaimed as “Woman of the Year” by the Center for Italian and Italian-American Culture. 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 Varsalona raised $21,000.00 for the Jimmy V Foundation, to benefit the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, through UNICO.
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.
She is a charter member and currently on the board of the IBMA (International Bridal Manufacturers Association) as well as being a former member of the BBA (Bridal and Bridesmaids Association. In 1991 she received The D.E.B.I. Award for Distinctive Excellence in the Bridal Industry from Modern Bride Magazine.
Ms. Varsalona served on the Board of Trustees of Mount St. Dominic Catholic School for girls in North Caldwell, NJ for 25 years and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2000.
A 1967 alumni of Raytown High School in Raytown, MO, she was nominated to their Hall of Fame 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. Some of her most notable accomplishments at Washington University include:
Secured a Personal Endowment of $100,000 to Washington University Fashion Design students.
Secured a $50,000 Grant for the Siteman Clinic at Washington University in the area of personal breast cancer vaccine research.
25 year member of Washington University Regional Cabinet for the Sam Fox School of Art and Architecture
Consulting/Critic for Senior Fashion Design students at Washington University
Washington University’s Fashion Dept. “Made to Model 2020-2021 project”, for physically challenged teens, donated fabrics, beading, and design consultation. Covered in the St Louis newspapers.
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.
Most recently, Ms. Varsalona has served as a tenured, Adjunct Professor at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), New York, where she teaches with Bridal and Cocktail Apparel as her specialties
Procured IBMA for $36,000 for Special Occasion Fashion Design Scholarships of which FIT will receive $12,000 in 2023.
Mentors graduates of FIT in establishing and growing their own companies
In April 2010, she was named “Best 50 Women in Business, NJ, 2010” by Wachovia Bank.
As a member of the Women’s Leadership Council at the Liberty Science Center, NJ, Paula designed a ladies signature scarf for a fundraiser.
In February 2012 she was a contestant on Lifetime’s “24 Hour Catwalk”.
2023 Paula participated in The Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week & Awards: As a selected jury member & contributor in awarding the best international designers, firms and Bridal creations.
2023 On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Association of Italian American Educators was voted to be named this year’s recipient of the (AIAE) Lifetime Achievement in Business Enterprise Award.
Whether Paula is doing Trunk Shows across the country or teaching as an Adjunct Professor at FIT, she always keeps busy. Most recently she hosted a Cancer Gala in Kansas City, MO to honor her mother Dorothy, who died of lung cancer nearly 30 years ago. The $50,000 grant went to the Medical School at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, The Siteman Clinic for Lung Cancer Research.
Ms. Varsalona and her husband have lived in Montclair for 44 years and have a daughter, Alexandra.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Association of Italian American Educators Paula was voted to be named 2023’s recipient of the (AIAE) Lifetime Achievement in Business Enterprise Award.