By Nola Sarkisian-Miller
4:10 PM EDT, July 24, 2013
Brides want to look as romantically alluring as possible.
Visions of cascading lace, fabrics layered for movement and shape and pops of color conveying a sunny mood are some of the key trends on the 2013 runways.
Brides-to-be are in a more bullish mood and willing to spend a bit more on higher-end styles that include laces imported from Europe.
"A more positive outlook on the economy is driving the desire for richness and luxuriousness," says Andrea Novella, sales and marketing manager for New York-based Anne Bowen. High-quality fabrics such as lace, silk and crepe "are preferred because although they are pricier, they add a richness and finish that makes the gown look much more expensive than it is."
Bridal salons from the West Coast to the East Coast report that lace gowns are key sellers, whether the more modest fitted look at Esti's in Brooklyn, N.Y., or showier styles at M Bride in La Jolla, Calif. Designers are creating lace works for the 21st century that are more modern and more envelope-pushing by incorporating lace in sleeves, on illusion necklines, on portrait backs, on belts and with beading embellishments.
Lace abounds in the portrait backs of Lela Rose's collection and plays a central role in Monique Lhuillier's line. There are Chantilly lace bow belts on corset gowns with drop waists, Chantilly lace sheaths and re-embroidered lace illusion necklines and ball gowns. Guipure lace gowns mixed with satin-faced organza in glamorous slim, column shapes are popular Kevan Hall White Label styles. Anne Bowen is incorporating beading into lace gowns, such as a beaded Chantilly lace dress or a white beaded lace trumpet gown. Another forward style is by Modern Trousseau, in Woodbridge, Conn. - a pinstripe silk taffeta gown with a lace overlay.
"Brides have to be careful," says Michele Martin, owner of M Bride. "If they wear all-over lace, the dress can wear them. Lace mixed with tulle or English net looks more whimsical, more ethereal and more flattering."
How brides wear it also makes a difference. For instance, when picking out a dreamy lace dress, don't ruin the confection with a sash, say bridal experts.
"Sashes can downgrade the dress - dumb it down," Martin says. "It looks more prommy and not as sophisticated."
Novella agrees that "sashes have given way to beaded belts, especially those incorporated into gowns."
Lace-bow belts were a huge staple at Monique Lhuillier, accented with two-inch to four-inch bows. Watters partnered with Thomas Knoell Designs to create a line of accessories, including belts with rhodium-plated metals, for an opulent, vintage feel for its collection of Miami-inspired dresses.
Jessica Williams, the designer of Alvina Valenta, wanted to create looks that featured "subtle and unexpected dimensions." Her gowns include a V-neck style with shoulder straps mixing lace and tulle for a soft, feminine feel.
Kevan Hall's bridal dresses that are receiving positive reactions include a strapless style accented with a front bow along with gowns layered with classic tulle and touches of re-embroidered lace in a move away from heavier gowns.
"Dresses that are soft and light and airy are what's in," Hall says. "Brides want fabrics that are more sensuous and lightweight."
Watters is mixing clean lines with Art Deco details, using washed silk organza mixed with tulle for soft, flowing looks in drop-waist and modified A-line silhouettes.
"We're using yards and yards of fabric for draping and billowing for a very ladylike look," says Maria Prince, vice president of the Dallas-based bridal line. "We're layering and layering without the weight of big satin."
There's also no shortage of color on the runways. But, brides are opting for subtle color to make a big statement. Many designers are keeping the shades understated, such as at Anne Bowen, which offers a gown made of ivory lace with a blush under-layer.
"Brides are keeping color soft so it looks like a wedding gown, but has an edge," says Callie Tein, designer for Modern Trousseau. "They don't want their gowns to look like an evening dress. When do you ever get to wear an all-white dress? You can always wear a red dress or a green dress."
Nova, a Cinderella-blue satin dress, and Eden, a Chantilly lace sheath re-embroidered with chiffon are bridal favorites at Modern Trousseau. Geography, however, often plays a role in how much brides are willing to deviate from color conventions.
"Tradition dies very hard here," says Gail Hester, a bridal consultant at the Mimi boutique in New Orleans. "We had one girl who wore black this weekend, and she looked stunning. She has red hair and blue eyes. But there aren't many girls who have the confidence to pull that off or that have parents who will let them."
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