Designers play with fabric to offer the latest high wedding styles

CTW Features

These days, it’s not your grandmother’s taffeta or silk that bridal designers are using in their wedding collections.

As they ratchet up the bar on innovation in an increasingly crowded market that’s turned more competitive with lower-priced players – Costco recently unveiled its line of “Costcouture” wedding dresses designed by Kirstie Kelly, selling for $600 to $1,400 – bridal designers are creating novelty with the sheer use of fabric, whether there’s dimension to the fabric or an addition of a pattern or design treatment. The results can be dramatic, imparting confidence and sophistication.

Monique Lhuillier’s fall 2011 collection includes a silk organza gown textured to look as if it’s wrinkled and a strapless taffeta gown printed with barely there oversized florals. Also for fall 2011, the Christos line offers a strapless, petal-pressed organza gown and a strapless Alencon lace style with a point d’esprit skirt for a jeune fille look. Amsale’s strapless satin jacquard gown billows and mesmerizes with its optic design, as if the bride should be walking down a long, long aisle in a cathedral.

The evolving dress silhouettes are giving designers room to experiment. Trumpet-style gowns allow for contrast fabric in the skirt, and the newer trend of dropped-waist gowns create larger real estate in the bodice to showcase the fabric. Anne Barge uses shirred silk organza in her strapless gown with an elongated bodice, then sets it off with an asymmetrically ruffled skirt accented with roses. Carolina Herrera, who often marches to the beat of a Spanish flamenco dancer with her lively designs, has been at the forefront of this trend, creating a floral pastel and seashell silk fil coupe’ jacquard strapless gown for her spring 2011 bridal line.

It’s a mood that’s been embraced by the runways. For fall 2011, Narcisco Rodriguez unveiled a collection full of red, black and white printed silk fil coupe’ shifts, two-tone trousers and designs mixing fabrics such as silk and wool. Bridal boutiques welcome the new fabric designs, noting how designs are shifting more dramatically than in the past.

“We have a ton of brides asking for pops of color and novelty,” says Michelle Hanson, owner of Flutter Boutique in Minneapolis. “It’s great to see such newness in the bridal market, which didn’t use to change much year over year.”

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