The Toronto Designer Behind Keyshia Ka’oir’s Seven Bridesmaid Gowns

Christopher Paunil designed Keyshia Ka'oir's seven bridesmaid dresses in five days.

Photography by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

Imagine being asked to design more than one dress for what has been dubbed hip hop’s ‘wedding of the year’ and being told you only have five days to pull it off? Well that’s what happened to Toronto-designer Christopher Paunil a week and a half ago. Paunil has been designing bridal and ready-to-wear for four years but just branched into the American market earlier this year when a buyer in West Virginia connected him with beauty entrepreneur Keyshia Ka’oir, then fiance of rapper Gucci Mane. Paunil and his team were tasked with designing seven bridesmaids gowns in under two weeks for the October 17th wedding. We chatted with Paunil in Toronto to learn about all that went into this unforgettable occasion.

How did you get into designing for Keyshia Ka’Oir?

This Keyshia Ka’Oir project presented itself to me through a store in West Virginia called Boutique by B.Belle. Belle is the store owner and she has been following us since we entered the U.S. market earlier this year, and this was sort of our first project working together. Belle was hired to style the wedding and at the last minute Keyshia, I guess was not happy with the design that she had chosen for the bridesmaids, so Belle thought about us.

You designed these dresses in two weeks, how did you pull it off?

We got it done with very little sleep. We called in as many people as we knew to help us. We had to put aside all of the other projects we were working on and get this Keyshia Ka’oir/Gucci Mane wedding done. It’s our first foray into the U.S. in terms of media exposure so I couldn’t ask for anything better than the hip hop wedding of the year.

How did you combine Keyshia’s style with your own?

We did not work directly with Keyshia until we were in Miami. Prior to that, it was a lot of back and forth with BET and the wedding planner Kathy Romero and Boutique by B.Belle. They had sent inspiration images and based on the inspiration images I came up with the designs that I thought resonated with my aesthetic, and that I thought would suit what Keyshia was looking for in her bridal party.

What best suited Keyshia’s bridal party?

They were very insistent on having garments that stretched. I think they were planning to have a lot of fun at the wedding so they wanted to be comfortable. We made sure that the fabric that we chose looked sophisticated. We made sure that what we chose photographed well and did not have a certain sheen that cheaper fabric will give off when a camera flash hits it. She wanted the lace to be blinged out. We chose a beautifully beaded lace that had glass beads all over it and we encrusted those with Swarovski crystals.

What is a memory that you will cherish from this project?

At the end of the day we were able to provide something that made the bride happy, and the bridal party happy and made us happy. What we put out there represented who we are as a brand, and when I say we I am talking about my business partner, my team and myself. I do not think that we sacrificed any of our values to do this. We remained true to who we (are) while being able to provide something for somebody under crazy circumstances.