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THE BRIDAL MARKET is moving ahead, apparently unfazed by the economic downturn squeezing the country.  Designers are showing extravagant, expensive and altogether spectacular dresses and jewelry, insisting that while people may cut back in other areas, they will continue to spend — if not splurge – on bridal wear.


Fabulous, luxurious materials, glitzy jewelry, ebullient  folds of material, and styling that combines yesteryear with the most modern design expressions  are all contributing to the excitement in bridal right now. Look at all the areas of thrilling innovation.  Color is just one example.  Because, while there is the usual emphasis on white, many designers are showing a wide variety of other shades and color tones to update the bridal look to a 21st century plateau. 


For example, Vera Wang is showing fascinating shades of chestnut, maize, celedron and grey, saying she wants to play with color to provide “a light, optimistic” antidote to a very dark fall. Color is also optimistic, and is a perfect antidote, as well, for a sagging economy!


Most designers leaned effectively on embellishment for light plays and color excitement.  Carolina Herrera’s gowns were classic champagne and ivory, and took the softer approach even further with delicate wheat-colored beading and gently colored ribbons.


Bling, texture and interesting details were among the major design factors giving a very special look to this year’s bridal collections. Jeweled garlands, sequin straps, and sparkling double-strand bracelets further glitz-ed up the offerings.


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TODAY’S BRIDAL COUPLE is older than ever before, with the bride 26 and the groom 28 on the day they take their vows.  Putting off the wedding this long has its advantages for the bridal market, however.  It gives the couple more time to save for a real blow-out, and that can be readily seen in the extravagant spending that so often accompanies today’s weddings. 


The average wedding costs about $50,000 and even with some economies (admittedly few) being put into effect, most dresses run from about $350 to a few thousand dollars. This, of course, does not include the cost of jewelry, which can be just about any price.  An the important thing to remember here is that while the wedding dress will be put away right after  the wedding, (presumably not to be worn again, except possibly by the brides future daughter), jewelry can be worn again and again and, in almost all instances, will be.


                  — So bridal jewelry has a very important role to play as a lifetime investment. These are future heirlooms!


Big on the bridal circuit are tiaras, such as a gorgeous headpiece in faux pearls that lifts in the front with beaded floral motifs.  Or, you might choose a majestic tiara with pearl flowers that has embedded clear crystals for added sparkle.  More elaborate tiaras include a rhinestone and pearl crown or a scrollwork tiara with white pearls and rhinestones.


Hairdos significantly affect the kind of earrings being worn.  Hair pulled straight back in a bun, and looking particularly good with traditional or classic bridal dresses, almost demand interesting earrings. Color can be used effectively regardless of whether the dress itself is white or colored.


Linear earrings are especially elegant for bridal.  Look at faux pearl linear drops for a perfect example.  A slightly more dramatic linear is a 2-inch long linear pearl.


Some hair styles are tightly fashioned into bunds, others are very casually pulled back into hair bunches with an almost “I-just-got-up” look.  Wedding earrings like hoops and other less ornate styles go well with this look. 




Traditional looks call for more formal earrings, like long silvery drop earrings, or even chandelier crystal earrings.  Button earrings are always very chic. Necklace and earring sets are very hot this year.  Think about a glass pearl necklace with earrings in ivory and brown for a wonderful contrasting look to the bridal ensemble.  Also look at a clear Austrian crystal white pearl necklace and earring set.  Austrian crystal, we might note, is especially popular for bridal, as it makes a fabulous heirloom piece after the ceremony!


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Dresses this year break down into a number of different stories, including minimalist, modern, romantic, and even ancient, as well as styles seemingly taken from ancient Greece. 


For example, Badgley Mischka showed a contemporary long white sheath dress with a light flare at the bottom and a heavily crystal-encrusted design at the top, crossing over into shoulder straps.  Reem Acra put forth a romantically Grecian dress flowing from the shoulders to the floor with an elaborate waist band of grey stones and embroidery.

The grey embellishment was also designed into a dress by Platinum.  Here, a dress of sweeping material folds formed huge white rose flower below the waist and emphasized a grey gem-encrusted bra above. 


From Atelier Aimee and Claire Pettibone came signs of an interesting design direction:  both showed dresses with big pink and green-leaf corsages at the back waist. Pettibone’s dress was a tight fitted white lace, while Aimee’s dress was more frou-frou, with pink ribbon detailing. 


Douglas Hannant showed a dress with magnificent African looks, fittingly worn on a beautiful model with the same generic appearance.  The dress literally pours down to the floor, where it ends in a very slight flare.  The outfit features a stunning cape over the dress with a highly detailed flowery neckline. 


Angel Sanchez showed a somewhat classic fitted dress with a flared ruffled and tiered skirt, while Amsale showed another classic look in beautiful white chiffon falling down to the floor from a top with ornate ruffled straps.  A big pouf of chiffon at the back of the dress gave a spaghetti strapped dress from Christos a very new look.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

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