June 9, 2011 -- Nandi Fernandez of Miami was crowned the winner of this year's Brides magazine's Operation Dream Dress competition today on "Good Morning America," where her winning dress was revealed for the first time live.
It was the third year in a row that Brides magazine conducted its Operation Dream Dress Contest, a competition for up-and-coming designers to create the ultimate wedding dress.
Fernandez, born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, crafted a dramatic, three-dimensional, sculptural gown that built on this year's contest's theme of "artful romance," with its draping and detailed pleating.
"For this contest we were searching for gowns that play into how American's marry," said Brides editor in chief Millie Martini Bratten, who appeared on "GMA" today to talk about this year's challenge and to reveal the winning dress.
Fernandez drew inspiration for her gown from "The Birth of Venus," painting by Sandro Botticelli, inspiration that Bratten said gave the dress a "Goddess look."
The pleating on the gown was inspired by the shell the Goddess of Love stands on as well as the seascape in Botticelli's painting.
Fernandez, who trained at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, used romantic details such as a beaded pearl belt to incorporate both feminine charm and modern sophistication into her dress, with special attention also paid to giving the dress a vintage and timeless charm.
"We were looking for something romantic and dreamy but creative and edgy," Bratten told "GMA" of the magazine's approach to this year's wedding gown search. "Something sophisticated for a very contemporary bride."
Biggest Contest in Dream Dress History
Fernandez's wedding dress design was selected over the designs of nearly 400 other designers who originally submitted sketches, a record number of submissions for the Dream Dress competition.
Those designs were narrowed down to 24 semi-finalists whose gowns were posted online for nationwide voting.
After more than 16,000 votes from Brides' readers, another contest record, a top five emerged, with Fernandez revealed as the winner today.
Fernandez's dress will appear on the July cover of Brides magazine, on newsstands June 21st. She will also receive a cash prize of $10,000.
Past finalists and Dream Dress winners have gone on to create their own lines and present at Fashion Week, Bratten added.
CLICK HERE to see last year's dream dress winner.
CLICK HERE to see "GMA's" Wedding Highlights.
Operation Dream Dress Finalists
Hundreds of entries were whittled down to a final five. Learn more about the five finalists and see their designs below!
Emily Ericson; Keene, N.H.
Ericson pursued the contest's "artful romance" theme with inspiration from Monet's water lily paintings.
Her interest has always been in outfitting all members of the bridal party, but here she strove to create a refreshingly modern silhouette for the bride, while maintaining a feminine look.
The designer also turned to the world's most famous, recent bride, Kate Middleton, for inspiration, styling her dress with a v-neck front, just as Middleton wore down the aisle in her April wedding to Prince William.
Ericson's sheer, transparent dress features an A-line bottom that Bratten describes as "effortless and dream-like."
A 2010 fashion design graduate of The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, Calif., she is currently creating a line of special occasion children's wear through which she aims to bring innocence and fun back to children's clothing.
Maya Kurz; New York, N.Y.
Kurz drew on her background in crafts and tailoring to create a gown that Bratten calls "sexy, daring and glamorous red carpet.
Kurz took the artful theme to a new level with a neckline of cutouts that extend to the bride's back. The dress's intricate neckline beading also serves as a necklace, standing out on its own so that no additional jewelry is needed.
The recent graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York City was born in New York but raised abroad in Tel Aviv, Israel, a background that is evident in the embroidery and fine detail she included in her design.
Hannah Friesen; Portland, Ore.
Friesen used a weaving technique in her gown to represent two lives being woven together, as in the bride and the groom.
The designer, a recent FIDM graduate, also brought an all-natural approach to her design, building on her interest in combining fashion and sustainability.
Friesen used all natural fibers for her dress, a combination that Bratten notes gave the dress a "folk-art, home-spun and hippy-chic" feel.
Adriana Rivera; New York, N.Y.
Rivera submitted a dress that reflects the modern American woman's lifestyle of versatility.
The dress has three looks, enhanced by both a removable train and kaftan. The train starts high on the body, with the kaftan enhancing it on the top.
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Rivera created a relaxed, comfortable design that Bratten describes as "great for a beach wedding."
The silk organza fabric and minimal A-line sheath underneath makes the dress light and airy, while the delicate floral-embroidered sash and mint green grosgrain give the dress a romantic feel.
Rivera received a degree in Fashion from the Parsons School of Design and is pursuing a career in the fashion industry.