BY NOLA SARKISIAN-MILLER
Turns out not every bride wants to look dreamy and frothy like a cupcake on her wedding day.
While strapless gowns, princess ball gowns and an abundance of material were on display during the past spring and fall bridal runway shows, some designers threw in nontraditional looks for the iconoclastic bride. Oscar de la Renta outfitted his models in skinny pants and a fur vest for rocker chic. Another model on his runway paraded a silk embroidered peasant blouse and a silk floral brocade skirt, fit for a girly prairie aesthetic. Melissa Sweet showcased an ultra-short sheath in tiered feathers for the sassy bride.
Retailers say the looks are pushing the bridal gown envelope into a more modern direction.
“We’re less fussy,” says Michelle Depoali, owner of Swoon … A Bridal Salon in Reno, Nev., which carries Amy Kuschel, Lazaro and Ivy & Aster. “I sold a lace pantsuit to a bride three years ago. They’re not typical good girls. They want something sexier, interesting and edgy.”
Whether retailers will bite on the looks is up for debate, but they say the avant-garde styles do serve a purpose.
“We’re here to show an edited selection of great things out there,” Depoali says. “We want artful, fashion-forward pieces to give our stores flavor and to show brides possibilities.”
Melissa Albert, owner of Belltown Bride in Seattle, Wash., who is still sussing out her buys for the 2012 season, agrees that the looks are “fun to have in the shop,” but can border on the costumey. She plans to spring for a Jane Wang gown with a detachable skirt and colorful sequins.
Some bridal observers say the unexpected looks can suit certain weddings. A bold bride may have no problem wearing Oscar de la Renta’s floral silk caftan over a floral embroidered bikini for a beach wedding. A more whimsical bride would feel comfortable in the vintage-inspired gowns from BHLDN. But, the jury is deadlocked on the fall 2012 collection of Vera Wang. The designer of Kim Kardashian’s wedding gown spun a web of bewitching fashions for some and perhaps, macabre, for others depending on the eye of the beholder. Her mostly black and nude dresses, with asymmetrical draping, unusual laddering details and dramatic and often raw-edged hems, worn by models styled with pale make-up and loose, indistinctive hair may have challenged the notion of a picture-perfect innocent bride. “I thought the Vera Wang show was a bit bizarre,” Depoali says.
Whether brides cotton to these nontraditional styles or not, retailers say the princess ball gown is deemed to lose steam over the years as women have come into their own.
“We have older brides out there who have successful careers and don’t need a prince to make her life magical,” Albert says. “She’s already this great package so she wants something more sophisticated than a ball gown.”
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