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Dresses for Success

Diana Mandusic delivers dream dresses at her Skokie boutique, Diana’s Bridal.

The prominent Essense of Australia tulle gown with trumpet silhouette welcomes brides-to-be at Diana’s Bridal in Skokie.

When the doors to Diana’s Bridal (4646 Oakton St., Skokie, 847.423.2452) open, guests are greeted by a dress form donning a stunning fitted lace gown by Essense of Australia—owner Diana Mandusic’s favorite in the boutique. “I love it because it’s a clean palette. You can put a belt on it, and any bride can accessorize it with her own flair, style or fashion sense,” she says.

Mandusic’s boutique reflects her aspiration to cater to every bride, no matter her style, budget or location. Nestled in Skokie, Diana’s Bridal is a one-stop shop of dresses and accessories for city and suburban girls alike. From Jenny Yoo’s modernistic silhouettes to the traditional elegance of Stella York, Mandusic has curated a collection of gowns to suit a wide range of aesthetics and price points (dresses retail between $600 and $3,000). “We really wanted to make sure that we brought that chic city-boutique experience, [but] not the prices,” she explains.

Chic is a word that has long been in Mandusic’s vocabulary. As a little girl, she refused her parents’ outfit-matching help, and at 15, she begged her mother for a worker’s permit so she could land a job at a local boutique. After graduating high school a year early, she continued her foray into fashion by pursuing a degree in fashion merchandising management at Columbia College, and later at the University of Paris. In 2009, she leapt into the world of bridal, working for Jenny Yoo before opening up her very own shop last year.

It comes as no surprise that Mandusic self-planned her very own wedding to husband Milan, who co-owns the shop and is half of what Mandusic calls their “dynamic duo.” Despite his background in business, Mandusic is surprised by her husband’s innate talent in the realm of bridal. “I’m like, ‘You missed your calling!’ He’s really like a natural. It’s hilarious. He’s got such a keen sense for picking styles and fabrics,” she shares.

But Mandusic, and her passion for pleasing every bride that enters her store, is at the heart of the operation. “I conduct all the appointments right now, and I’m really adamant about making sure that the bride has just a great time overall. Even if they don’t find their gown, maybe we can help with accessories or we can help their girlfriends. I know that not everyone is going to find everything in our store, but I strive to make it a pleasant experience in their bridal search.” We think she’s found the formula for dress success.