Bridal Style Spreads Its Wings

By Natasha Garber | Make Favorite

Photo: Sylvie Gil | Gown: Watters

The latest designer wedding collections have a little something for everyone. Lace, shimmer, color, trains, sleeves, capes, bows, feathers, statement-making veils—this season’s selections truly offer more variety than ever to brides on their quest for the perfect dress. But one trend dominates: individuality. Above all, brides are looking for ways to express themselves, and stand apart from the crowd. And designers are responding to their style demands…beautifully.

Sleeve Intrigue
In recent seasons, “Designers have been paying a lot more attention to sleeves,” says Kim Vo, of Now & Forever Bridal Boutique. Among her personal favorites are the “dream catcher” sleeves featured on Hayley Paige’s “Lumi” gown, which have “a romantic yet sexy vibe,” as she describes. “These sheer long sleeves, combined with a V-neckline bodice and open keyhole back, really capture the essence of sweet femininity, but with a touch of edginess.”

At Ivory Bridal Atelier, assistant salon manager Shelby Elder says she’s struck by the range of sleeve options available to the current crop of Houston brides. “I see Rivini playing with a lot of off-the-shoulder and full-lace sleeves, while Reem Acra has shown really beautiful ‘bell’ sleeves. The ‘bell’ sleeve gives more of an airy, Bohemian look.”

In love with a sleeveless wedding gown style, but still keen on covering up your arms for your traditional ceremony? No problem, Elder notes: “We make custom, detachable sleeves and build-ups all the time. A build-up is a piece you can have your seamstress create for you in alterations that can give you as much coverage as you want. Then when the time is right, you can un-snap the piece and have more skin showing for the party!”

Versatile Trains
“Wrap trains and detachable trains are offering the versatility that brides are looking for in a gown,” says AJ Ruley, vice president of sales and marketing for Weddings by Debbie. “These trains give brides a secondary look, and let them shed some of the layers, so that they can really enjoy their receptions. We have noticed that Stephen Yearick has been at the forefront for this look, but other designers such as Enzoani and Pronovias have incorporated the look into their new lines.”

Cover Ups
Add-ons such as boleros and shrugs are a favorite of Houston brides in any season. Not only do they give the bride a chance to add her own special touch to her gown, but they also allow for two different looks on one very special day. 

Joan Pillow, owner of Joan Pillow Bridal Salon, is particularly excited about the “overskirts” accompanying a variety of gowns in Monique Lhuillier’s collection. “These overskirts allow the bride to have two unique looks for her wedding, while she is still able to enjoy wearing her gown” for the entire event, she notes.

New to Now & Forever’s designer lineup, the Legends Romona Keveza collection offers “a great selection of lace blouses from fitted illusion to off-the-shoulder three-quarter or long sleeves,” Vo says. And “Hayley Paige has many amazing crystal-embellished boleros, which allow a balance of sass and sparkle!”

For head and shoulder coverage that harkens back to classic, even historic, bridal style, look to the new season’s long veils and dramatic capes—which were on display everywhere at this past spring’s New York Bridal Fashion Week.

Galia Lahav’s spring 2018 “Victorian Affinity” collection, for one, features a breathtaking high-collared sheer cape, while Elie Saab’s hottest cape is a solid stunner Gwyneth Paltrow would envy.

Meanwhile, the new veils are major statement-makers, with mantilla styles, cathedral veils, cape-veils and lavish tulle veils being shown by designers including Oscar de la Renta, Reem Acra, Rivini…and, of course, veil-goddess Galia Lahav.

Hot Hues
If anything is popular at Weddings by Debbie, it’s “color, color, color!” Ruley notes. “We love flesh tones, such as the blushy-nudes as well as the champagnes, and the shades of gold.”

Elder is an admirer of Lazaro’s “3705” design—a shimmer fit-to-flare in a shade that is “almost in between blush and gold—it’s a new tone I have not seen before.” Another of her favorites is “Gala 803” by Galia Lahav, which “plays with blush and silver—it’s amazing!” Visit any Houston bridal salon, and you’ll find gowns in colors you might not expect to see in bridal. Along with blush, you’ll encounter racks dappled with light blue, gold and even black—a daring but dramatic choice for the bold bride.

Luxe Lace
“We are loving all the new laces that designers are using in this season’s collections,” says Ivory Bridal Atelier’s Elder. “They have started to venture out of the norm, and are using more unique, Art Deco-type laces.”

At Joan Pillow, demand is high for gowns that feature “some lace but not all lace,” Pillow says. “Romona Keveza has this in her collection,” which includes lace bodices with illusion necklines that border the shoulder with lace, paired with skirts of silk crepe. “This is just such an elegant look,” she adds.

Vines & Strands
Organic touches, inspired by nature, continue to captivate brides, going into 2018. New York’s most recent bridal runway shows featured a bounty of floral accents and embellishments, from Oscar de la Renta’s signature floral appliqués, to Marchesa’s fluttery 3-D floral touches, to Hayley Paige’s holographic floral embroidery.

On the other end of the spectrum, the new season’s gowns are positively dripping with elaborate shoulder and back jewelry. Looking for major bling? Look to the new collection from Monique Lhuillier for capelets made from multiple strands of gleaming pearls and sparkling gems, feast your eyes on jewel-encrusted boleros from Hayley Paige, and behold a built-in metallic choker from Sabrina Dahan.

Over at Now & Forever, nature’s influence and glamour’s glitter are making a style marriage. Vo points to a “floral crystal bodice that’s seen throughout the Christos collection, whether paired with a tulle ballgown skirt, slinky chiffon, or represented in a figure-hugging fit-and-flare silhouette.” She also loves the expression of flowers in Kenneth Pool’s fall collection, featuring “an elegant floral-embroidered tulle ballgown with a beaded belt.”

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