Applause – the strapless gown is waning in popularity. Not to knock strapless, but move over for more neckline coverage! Designers are giving brides more support and a bit more decoration up top. Throw in a healthy dose of detail at the hemline, plus splashes of accent color and you’re in the know on what’s current.
But the biggest thing is big…
The Ball Gown Enters
If a $200,000 Christian Dior design worn by Melania for her marriage to Donald couldn’t start a trend, then not much else will be able to move the seamstress’s needle. Those wonderful full formals are making a heady return and brides seem quite attuned. Top couture runway designers such as Carolina Herrera, Eli Saab and of course Vera Wang have gone big. Stunning custom and prêt a porter ball gowns can also be seen from the Italian house Atelier Aimee, whose design teams offer traditional to avant garde styles in three lines of varying style and price point. Of course St. Pucchi has always skirted the bride in a big way, and Eugenia Couture, plus Priscilla of Boston are known for grand entrances.
Big gowns are a bit more challenging to manage, but photographers love having that extra yardage to create drama. Will you wear a separate petticoat or does the dress have a sewn-in slip? One item about big dresses – they are heavy. Melania’s couture was rumored to weigh 50 pounds. Getting a good snug fit is essential so the dress stays in place. A separate petticoat (one not connected to the dress) will keep the fullness whilst not being a drag on the overall outline. Be sure your bridesmaid knows how to bustle you into position. Some dresses are quite complex.
Strapless – Passé?
It’s not all the rage to say the least. Busty gals will not be busting out all over, the anorexia bride will be hidden at least until after the reception and maybe no more grip, grab and tug on the bodice front side to shore things up for another few minutes. We have straps and collars, lace overlay and plenty of wonderful fabric treatments to fill the neckline void.
Canadian designer Antoniette Catenacci shows interesting Celtic-influenced gowns with wonderful square and wide necklines guaranteed to beautifully show off your on-loan Harry Winston jewels. Australian designer Basilica Couture showed this past season at New York Couture Week and brought classic cuts in very proper covered up styles. One gown featured long sleeves and upper bodice done in organza, while another favorite was a wonderful ensemble that paired a clean A-line skirt gown with matching waist or full length tailored coat.
Other styles holding up are keyhole and halter. Luscious bias cuts with these necklines prevail in creations from Eden Bridal. Slim shapes with cowls and soft neckline draping are other strapless alternatives offered by many designers such as Adele Wechsler. Cowl cuts give fluidity and motion and are perfect for the slim angular bride looking for more softness.
Skirting the Emotion
Not to be outdone by motion up top, skirts are moving every which way with feathers, ruffles, ribbons, pleats – sometimes adding mayhem to hemlines. One designer mad with details this season is Claire Pettibone – roses and ruffles, panniers and fluff, draped lace and filmy chiffon.
On the couture scale, Paris-based Japanese designer Yumi Katsura plays with frills using organzas and sheers. Her playful gowns offer ruffles in symmetric and asymmetric placement. She’s also showing a few crystal pleated styles – a hot dressmaker embellishment the past few seasons. In other moves closer to the body, the mermaid silhouette has added some legs with the addition of a train and a whole lot of embellishment back side.
Not since the 1880s have ladies had so much fuss trailing them. Designs from Elizabeth Fillmore give additional backside swish and detail. Vera Wang and Jim Hjelm follow right behind.
And on the looser side of things, full ‘proper lady’ tea length styles are on order again for both brides and bridesmaids. Whether swinging free or petticoated for fullness, these dresses are showing up at destination and outdoor summertime weddings. Check the outlines from Carol Peretz and Lazaro:
Color My World
A few seasons back color started breaking onto the bridal canvas with hints showing up in beading and embroidery. Then came the famous Monique Lhuillier double-sided satin ribbon waist sash in cafe latte. Seems the world is awash with colors for brides and her maids. For the marrying woman, not only has her basic palette widened but accents come in a rainbow of options. She’s no longer limited to shades of white and ivory; she can blush, have champagne and slither in silver.
Raylia Designs shows a pretty in pink silk georgette dress with smooth bodice and curvy hem, while Demetrios chooses sweetheart red.
Alfred Angelo offers a line of dress basics where color can be customized on a sash, in the embroidery, or at bodice and hemline. Also take a peek at Hannah Hartnell’s work. She offers sexy, slinky, bias bridal pieces in a wonderfully soft range of tones.
And capping off this round-up of swish, color and pomp is a stunner from Kenneth Pool — who says his brides just love the glitz and sparkle!