Amsale Aberra: From Addis Ababa To the Top of New York Fashion


Since Amsale Aberra left her life in Ethiopia, as the daughter of an Ethiopian Minister in the early seventies to study in the US a lot has changed in  the world of fashion.  After her untimely death last month her contribution was summed up by one major industry player, Mark Ingram who told the NY Times that she was, no less than, the “the inventor of the modern wedding dress.”  Many industry players share this opinion.

Starting in the business by designing her own wedding gown back in the 80s’ she went on to dominate the industry for decades. Even as a young girl in the Emperor Haileselassie’s Addis Ababa she had a passion for dressmaking. Her family told media that she would cut up dresses and refashion them for her dolls.  Significantly, her father was vice-minister for National Community Development.

Related:  First Luxury Wedding Exhibition Organized at Sheraton Addis

As a testament to her strong work ethic, the Amsale Spring 2019 show was carried out with style, even though she herself had passed away on the first of the month. This was done according to her last wishes, her family said.  The event turned into a tribute to her legacy while also launching the Nouvelle Amsale Spring 2019 collection.

Read More about the Tribute and Spring 2019 (Tadias)

Even though she discovered her lifetime passion earlier in life joining the Fashion Institute of Technology, an internationally recognized institution in New York City, gave her structure.

During an interview many years back Amsale Aberra revealed the impact exposure to Western life had on her illustrious career. “Trying to make something by hand is always something that I liked, but I had no idea there was such a profession as a designer.”


Amsale’s dresses have been described as simple, toned down and minimalist. Her contribution has been summed up by a recent Washington Post title: “The designer who stripped the frippery and frills from wedding dresses.” To illustrate this fashion speak let us look at wedding dresses when Amsale first came up in the 1980s.


80s wedding dresses
Amsale’s minimalist wedding dresses made her a huge success in international fashion. examples of the over the top wedding dresses that Amsale toned down  – Google Image Search)

Amsale Aberra pared everything down making her wedding dresses chic and understated. This paid off bigtime breaking a trend that had been basically unchanged since the 19th century.

Her husband, Neil Brown, and she began the brand in a small apartment in the fashion production center of New York City known as the garment district.

Related: The Historic Garment District of New York City (Wikipedia) 

The business began thriving when Amsale landed her first contract with a big firm.

Amsale Is Wedding Dressmaker of the Celebrities.

One thing that would garner Amsale’s most expensive wedding dresses popular attention throughout the decades was her pictures next to celebrities like Julia Roberts and Haile Berry. Her dresses were featured in some of the most successful tv series and movies. Many Addis Abeba residents might recall Runaway Bride for which she designed a wedding dress.

In addition to her domination of the mainstream wedding dress industry, she was also regarded highly as one of a handful of black designers running a multinational fashion firm.

Her husband, Neil Brown, was part of her success from the start. He is currently the CEO of Amsale and was unreserved in his admiration for her in recent media reports. Recently, he said tht Amsale and he were inseparable to the end,  passing ‘360 degrees’ of their lives together.

Who Is Amsale Aberra’s Husband, Neil Brown?

Sophisticated evening wears were also a part of Amsale’s collection at her Madison Avenue store. In addition,  Amsale is making a shift from being a top end luxury brand. New product lines are more and more affordable.


Rachel Brown Amsale’s Daughter Also in the Creative Arts

Rachel Brown Website page
Rachel Brown’s website page promotes her blossoming career in music.

Notably, Rachel  Brown, 30, is a songwriter and singer. Until recently received advice from her mother on how to dress for her music videos. Sadly, she joined her father last month in receiving the flood of tributes in person and on social media. While her mother was alive she stood behind her career.  Check out one of her hit music videos below.

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