BY NOLA SARKISIAN-MILLER
The year in weddings started with fevered speculation over the Duchess of Cambridge’s bridal gown for her April wedding day and ended with the gleeful fervor over Bella Swan’s stunning look as worn by Kristen Stewart in the movie, “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1,” which recently hit theaters.
Kate Middleton captured the limelight in her lace gown designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, which has been the inspiration of choice for a number of designers, high and low, including ABS by Allen Schwartz, who fashioned a replica a mere 12 hours after the wedding ceremony and began selling it in Lord & Taylor stores this past summer.
Now, the unveiling of Bella Swan’s gown is creating Internet chatter. Designed by Carolina Herrera, the custom-fit gown is made out of crepe satin and French Chantilly lace. Its claim to fame is a rear studded with 152 buttons from the neckline to the hemline and a sheer back panel scrolled with delicate embroidery. In the vampire film, Stewart’s character ties the knot with Robert Pattinson’s character, Edward Cullen.
Bridal boutiques are hoping the excitement generated from the gown – estimated to be worth $35,000 – will spill over into their stores. Herrera plans to include the design in her fall 2012 collection.
“With ‘Twilight,’ we definitely think there will be an impact,” says Hillary Hallinan, a bridal consultant at L’elite Boutique in Boston, which carries the Herrera collection. “We saw that with the royal wedding. Every designer out there tried to replicate the gown.”
Hallinan says her store benefited from the publicity boost of Middleton’s wedding. L’elite participated in a contest to select a gown for Middleton, partnering with Vera Wang. A launch party for the gown attracted newcomers to the store.
Already firms such as Alfred Angelo are reaping rewards. The Philadelphia-based maker of wedding gowns is the exclusive licensed manufacturer of Bella’s frock, which premiered in the company’s stores and independent boutiques after the movie opened. Slightly modified, the liquid satin sheath gown has fewer buttons on the back – 132 buttons to be exact. It’s priced for mere mortals at $799 and can fit sizes 0-18 and 16W-30W.
While Bella is a young bride, the Alfred Angelo rendition will cater to brides ages 21 to 35, according to Amanda Sheronas, the company’s director of public relations. To stoke the frenzy, Alfred Angelo is giving away movie tickets and running a contest for a free Bella bridal gown. The promotions appear to be working. TMZ recently reported that Alfred Angelo customers were faking engagements simply to try on the gowns.
Given the headaches “Twihards” may create, some designers choose to abstain from the fashion hoopla. ABS by Allen Schwartz won’t be creating a rendition of the Bella gown.
“That’s more of a pop-culture thing, which [Allen Schwartz] doesn’t do,” says Amy Praw, marketing and licensing coordinator for ABS by Allen Schwartz.
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