Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Bling! by Sondra Celli & Tisi Farrar is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late May.

Pisht, of course I know who Sondra Celli is from her many appearances on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, so, naturally, I would like to understand and appreciate her biography (learning the craft early on at age 8 from her mother Yolanda), aesthetic, and tips & materials needed to bling something for yourself. Sure enough, she speaks of learning and traveling throughout Europe, opening boutiques in the US, working in the 80s & 90s, gaining fans in both the Romani/Traveler and non-Romani/Traveler worlds, before settling into a business based near Boston, and tells all about memorable, unusual, over-the-top requests, and the pros & cons of different crystals, jewels, and beads. Some photos show up, others not; similarly, the Q&As are not aligned correctly.
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Part auto biography, part how-to, this is a great look at how Celli's career came to be, and more importantly WHY her clients love her SO much! It was really great seeing so many photos, and recognizing that Celli has been around a lot longer, and has more designer cred, than you realize from watching the TV show. She has a great troop of workers,and they roll out some pretty amazing designs! Note- ebook not so great when it comes to pixctures I would recommend getting the print copy of this book! The stories of behind the scenes at her shop and the TV show are too funny, and who knew she was the Queen of Cheesecakes? I love that she takes the extra time with her clients, AND her fans, even those that just drop in! You really feel like you get to know Sondra with this book!

celli and dress

Also included in the book is the 'how-to' bling section! Celli gives really great info not only on what makes Swarovski crystals SO amazing, but about the different types. Then she gives you info on recommended items to use, and WHY they use them (can you imagine putting THOUSANDS of crystals on just one dress? THAT is why they know they're stuff!). Then she goes step by step (with pictures!!!) about the different 'blinging' techniques they use,and how you can adapt them at home,for your own designs.

Bonus: By buying the book, you get a special discount on her SONDRA CELLI BLING KIT, which has everything you need to get started on Blinging out your wardrobe items! Together it would be a nice pre-order for Mom for Mother's Day (since the book comes out after), or for a fun graduation gift!
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Fans of TLC's reality show "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding" will undoubtedly recognize the co-author of this book:  Sondra Celli.  Celli, who is nicknamed "The Queen of Bling," designs many of the special occasion gowns for the women featured on that show, whether they are looking for an eye-dropping wedding dress or an unforgettable prom dress. Although I think the TLC show is a little over-the-top in craziness, Celli is reputable clothing designer who graduated from New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, then held apprenticeships in six European countries, including Italy and France. She worked at prestigious fashion houses in Italy, Hong Kong and New York before starting her own business in 1984, specializing in crystal couture and accessories.

Celli uses the first part of the book  to share parts of her life as a child and how it influenced her to become a fashion designer. Her parents owned a high-end bridal boutique and beauty salon. On the side, her mom would put on elaborate fashion shows to benefit local charities, and her dad would assist by building props and scenery for the shows.  The sewing/design bug bit her at a young age, when she was asked to design a hobo costume for a neighbor child. She moved on to altering her rather boring plaid school uniform, an action that drew frowns from school administrators. It seems Celli liked embellishing items from early on in her career -- her first children's line featured sweaters with handmade flowers and ribbons (for girls) and tiny toy cars (for boys).

Celli shares a variety of humorous stories throughout the book. One of my favorites--the time when she discovered that her custom dresses were being ordered by a several different dress shops all on the same street. After a bit of investigation, she realized that the dresses weren't being sent to actual dress shops.  (I don't want to spoil the humorous story, so you will need to read the book to find out the recipients of those dresses!)   

I also liked the way she discussed how she handled some of her most challenging dress requests -- like the wedding dress made completely with fresh flowers, and the sweet-16 party dress made completely out of candy (both were featured in "My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding".) 

The last part of the book is a tutorial on how to bling out your own accessories. Celli generously shares instructions on creating the three most popular bling effects and includes projects (like embellishing an umbrella, baby shoes, a headband, and more).  Each project has step-by-step instructions with photos, making it easy add a little bling to one's accessories.

The book is scattered with photos of Celli's designs.  Unfortunately, I read it in eBook format, and photos don't always format correctly, so this was a bit wonky and many photos didn't show up. If you are reading the book to learn more about making your own crystal couture, consider purchasing the paperback version so you can see all the photos. 

A nice bonus:  this book includes a coupon code that allows the reader to purchase Celli's "Bling Kit at a reduced price. The kit includes everything one would need to start embellishing accessories--240 Swarovski crystals, crystal adhesive, a syringe applicator for applying the adhesive, Celli's special "bling" tool, and instructions for creating several blinged out accessories.  I've priced Swarovski crystals in the store they are expensive, so this kit seems like a good deal for those who want to experiment with crystals without investing too much money.
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Fans of reality television will immediately recognize the name of dressmaker Sondra Celli, known for the jaw-dropping couture she creates on the hit television series My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding,

In Bling! The Uncommon Crystal Couture World of Sondra Celli by Sondra Celli and Tisi Farrar (Schiffer Publishing Ltd) May 2019) you will not only learn about how Sondra became the  “Queen of Bling” but how she creates those amazing dresses so big some brides can't get out of the door without assistance.

She also writes about some of the things that go behind the scenes of the TV show, and how she got involved with the Gypsy community. 

Sondra shares how she adds crystal brilliance to everything from tuxedos to Converse sneakers to pet accessories and it's fun to gawk at the fabulous fashions she's created.

However, it's not all about her, some of it is also about how to  DIY your own blinged-out accessories and clothing.  The step by step directions are easy to follow although in practice, you need some patience do do a really good job. 

Sondra has a bling kit that you can purchase on her website, and she pushes it (gently but firmly) if you want to bling out your own items, If you want to be your own "Queen of Bling" it's probably worth looking into.
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This was a disappointing read for me. I expected it to be more of a craft book, but 60% or more is solely Sondra’s biography. There are craft projects inside, how to bling up T-shirt’s, caps, converse, etc but only a few. 

Also in the ARC copy I received from Netgalley there were many many plates missing from the proof copy. As it is obviously a very visual read, this made it more difficult to get involved with. I can see this book will appeal to some, and maybe US readers more than UK as they will know of her I think. But sadly not my kind of craft book. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I personally love Sondra Celli's pieces because they are so beautiful and some are so over-the-top that it is fascination to see them so when I saw this title I was excited to read about the behind-the-scenes and who Sondra Celli was. This book is a great read, it details the beginning of her career, how her children's line was in stores everywhere, and how she came to work with gypsies to design for every event of their lives. It is so interesting to read about what happens in the workroom with all the people who spend hours creating everything and see how Sondra Celli has built her career. Its fascinating and entertaining.
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Welcome to a behind-the-scenes look at the style and studio of renowned designer and Gypsy dress maker Sondra Celli. Known for the jaw-dropping couture she creates on the hit television series My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, the "Queen of Bling" adds crystal brilliance to everything from tuxedos to Converse sneakers to pet accessories. Here, combining fashion insights and how-to techniques, she shares fascinating details of her early design hits and misses, her family's role in her work, and the sacrifices she made as a struggling designer in the Big Apple. 

Sondra teaches you how to create 14 bling-tastic projects of your own: umbrellas, corsets, neckties, baby shoes, baseball caps, flip flops, and more. She also dishes about what happens behind the scenes of her TV show, how she began designing for the Gypsy community, and the pressures of creating dresses using materials like candies, dollar bills, and real flowers.

I enjoyed learning about the world of fashion through the author's eyes. Fashion has always been an interest of mine. The pics were beautiful as well. This is a fun journey through the world of fashion and design. Also I want to order those embellish bandages! The author has done everything from wedding dresses for Gypsy brides to bathroom decor. My absolute favorite from the author is a dress she designed for a sweet sixteen, it was made with 63 pounds of candy! There's even directions to making your own bling shoes. Just an all around fun book!

Thanks to #NetGalley for the ARC of #Bling
Pub Date: 28 May 2019
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