• Glamour Gowns
  • Written by : Natasha Garber
  • Photo : Larry Fagala

This season brings an abundance of slinky silhouettes, extravagant embellishments and luxurious fabrics—perfect for making a grand entrance that will awe your groom and guests alike. Finding a high-glamour bridal gown that makes a statement while making you look beautiful is all about marrying your gown style to your body type and your unique personality. Of course, a few spectacular accessories and adornments only add to your allure.

Just as each bride is unique, each notion of glamour differs in the details. When one bride says she seeks a glamorous gown, she may imagine a clingy 1930s bias-cut, while another bride pictures a full ball-gown skirt or a bodice sparkling with crystal beads.

Fortunately, most experienced bridal stylists and salon associates are not only able, but delighted, to help you find the gown that best fulfills your glamour fantasy.

Toni Boutillier, general manager and buyer for Houston’s Louise Blum Bridal Salon, says high-glamour bridal gowns are front and center this season, and brides can’t get enough of the opulent new look. Among all-out showstoppers is a magnificent $18,500 Kenneth Pool number—the decadent “Delacroix”—created from more than 13 yards of silk duchesse satin. “It takes one person two weeks to hand-sew the crystal beading,” she says. “It’s truly a masterpiece dress.”

At the same time, she notes that the heavily embellished ball gown, with its chapel train and Swarovski crystals is not for all bodies. Instead, it’s a sensational choice for brides who are “a little more voluptuous,” Boutillier advises. “You need to be someone who can carry a dress like that.”

For the glamour girl bride who pines for those amazing hand-painted fabrics that have turned up, of late, on ready-to-wear runways across the globe, Carolina Herrera has a wedding gown that is certain to delight. Boutillier describes the dress, which comes with a matching veil, as both elegant and romantic, with its ivory-on-ivory hand-painted tulle—perfect for “a petite figure, someone smaller boned.”

Then there’s the Vera Wang “Audrey” gown, which takes glamour to new heights of craftsmanship, with its hand-rolled roses, chantilly lace appliqués and fan-tiered organza skirt. “There are only two people in the U.S. that can make this dress,” according to Boutillier. “Each dress comes out a little differently.” As for which body types are ideally suited to the style? With its narrow silhouette, “It’s best for the tall and thin,” she says.

As a bride on your wedding day, you are certain to be the central focus. Even more so if you are attired in a statement-making glamour gown. With all eyes on you, you want to make certain you exude confidence while you indulge in extravagance. That’s why renowned gown designers remind brides to choose a gown that makes you feel gorgeous inside and out.

A bride who desires a glamour gown “is definitely wanting that ‘wow’ factor,” notes Victoria McMillan, designer of the celebrated Alvina Valenta bridal collection. “However, it is of the utmost importance that she stays true to what works for her body shape and comfort level.”

Brides with considerable curves and full bustlines shouldn’t shy away from gowns that make the most of their assets, she says. She offers the example of her rum pink silk-satin fitted sheath with trumpet skirt. “The silhouette alone is stunning,” she says, while the “richly draped bodice, highlighted with jeweled embroidery at the empire waist has an ‘Old Hollywood’ glamorous edge.” Not only does the gown’s luxurious beading mean that barely any accessorizing is required, but its deep-V-neckline is fabulously flattering to cleavage. Another of McMillan’s gowns pairs rum pink silk-satin with a delicately beaded ivory tulle overlay. Sheath-style, trumpet-skirted and strapless, the gown, rather than concealing curves, accentuates them in a way that is “eye-catching and elegant,” the designer says. If you are the kind of bride who “loves the extra attention” that a figure-flattering glamour gown will command, then go for it, McMillan advises. “When one feels terrific about the way she looks, that comes across, and she exudes happiness and excitement.”

Lori Weill, sales director for designer Monique Lhuillier, explains that “a wedding dress is an emotional purchase.” For that reason, the glamour-seeking bride should be willing to let herself be seduced by styles that may not match, exactly, the picture in her mind. “Don’t have any preconceived ideas,” Weill insists. “Try on all different silhouettes and moods.” In her experience, she says, “Girls with great bodies, who want straight dresses, end up with romantic tufted skirts because they feel like a princess bride.”

Whatever glamour style ultimately sways you, Monique Lhuillier has a selection of wow-worthy gowns that are likely to be promising contenders. “Our most glamorous style right now is a dress called ‘Rocha,’” Weill says. With its French alençon lace sheath overlaid with organza floral and embroidery, the strapless, drop-waist gown “has an edgy feel,” but still “screams of femininity.”

Meanwhile, a Monique Lhuillier silk tulle two-piece that includes a hand-beaded corset top and tufted, hand-draped skirt may not be a gown, but it’s all glamour, says Weill. She calls the ensemble “incredibly romantic,” and deems it “dreamy, as well as sexy.” Krystle Jimenez of Winnie Couture, which features dresses designed by Houston’s own Winnie Lee, echoes Weill’s insights. “Many brides come in with an exact idea of the kind of dress they want, and end up leaving with something completely different,” she says. To ensure you choose the glamour style that suits you best, “Consider the fabric, the weight of the gown, how it will be bustled,” she advises, “and take a camera so you can see how it photographs.”

As glamorous in photos as they are live, in person, are several gowns from Winnie Couture’s spring 2008 collection, Jimenez says. In particular is the “Beckha” gown, featuring an A-line silhouette and high Grecian collar, with embellishments of Swarovski crystal. Jimenez describes the dress as “extremely chic, sexy and sleek.” For voluptuous figures, the “Uriella,” with its plunging neckline and crystal-encrusted, ruched bust, has an alluring air of vintage glamour, she adds.

But the “epitome of glamour,” according to Jimenez, is Winnie Couture’s Hermettah gown, which features a low V-neckline, crystal embellishments, mermaid bodice and flared hips. “This gown is all train!” Jimenez says, adding that a peek beneath that fabulous train reveals cascading layers of pleats.

Sometimes, glamour is in the glimmer—specifically the twinkling hair adornments and jewelry pieces with which the glamour-girl bride completes her bridal ensemble. After all, even a somewhat simple gown can be transformed with a little bit of well-chosen bling. “High glamour gowns demand sparkle,” says Emily Sutton, owner and manager of Houston’s Mia Bridal Couture. Brides with a love of the luxe look “should opt for bold crystal and diamond pieces instead of traditional pearls.” To avoid overdoing it, she adds, “opt for one statement piece and then accessorize around that.”

Jimenez says that a glamour gown’s top half will determine what baubles work best. “If there is heavy beading around the neckline, bust or anywhere in the upper torso, opt for bracelets rather than a chunky, heavy looking necklace,” she suggests. “For a low neckline or a simple ‘destination’ gown, a single solitaire necklace would be appropriate.” If you choose to forgo a necklace altogether, you can still get a burst of bold glamour from “a great pair of chandelier earrings,” she says. And always remember: “It’s important to break things up. You do not want too much going on in one place.”

Your hairstyle can be the most important glamour element of all. “Some girls feel very glamorous with their hair up, but their fiancés don’t like it,” Weill notes. “Half up is a great compromise!” To accent your half-up-do, “Hair picks are very sexy, as opposed to tiaras.” Louise Blum’s Boutilier loves hair combs that are embellished with Swarovski crystals, or a blend of crystals and pearls. For short hair or high-glam, up-do styles, her brides are head over heels for headbands from Toronto-based Rivini. “I can’t keep enough of them in!” she says.

As glamorous as you might go, “You want to look like yourself on your wedding day,” Jimenez reminds brides. Those who typically wear their hair down in daily life should do so for their wedding, she advises, while brides who regularly favor ponytails or chignons should stick with an up-do for their special day. Of course, sticking with your favorite style doesn’t mean sticking to simplicity. “Try a pearl or crystal encrusted headband for a more updated look,” she says. Or, “If you’re going for a vintage look, try an antique comb on the side of your hair.” Whatever high-glamour glitter you add, “As long as you feel great about who you are, then that is what you will radiate.”