Gowns Got Back

CTW Features

Sir Mix-A-Lot once rhapsodized about a woman’s backside and its appeal, but bridal designers didn’t pay much heed.

Given the focus on a bride’s back during a wedding ceremony, which can transpire over a long period of time depending on the religion, culture and personality of the couple, designers have gotten the message and are now churning out styles that highlight a bride’s stern so to speak, whether it’s interesting lace details, strategic glimpses of skin or fine embroidery.

Designer Amsale Aberra had loads of fun with Amsale’s spring 2013 collection featuring backs with a twist. There were structured bows tied askew, keyhole backs and tiered peplum touches. Ivy & Aster’s Colette trumpet gown revealed a sheer back of embroidered chiffon lined with micro buttons up the middle for a demure, romantic style. Robert Bullock Bride’s Julia dress flaunts a deep-V in the back.

Lace backs are a hallmark of Los Angeles-based designer Claire Pettibone, who likes the drama of a beautiful, delicate lace pattern contrasting with the sheerness of skin. Chantilly, a beaded cotton lace mermaid gown with a sheer back, and Sky Between the Branches, which features sequins and a sheer back, are a few of the line’s top sellers. Priscilla Chan wore Pettibone’s Sky Between the Branches gown when she married Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg this past May.

“I have always felt it is important for a bride to look gorgeous from every angle,” Pettibone says.

For brides, the renewed focus on backs is a welcome change from the typical attention paid to necklines and hemlines.

“Part of it is that brides are getting a little tired of strapless gowns,” says Anne Davis, co-owner of Bliss Bridal in Del Mar, Calif. “Usually, these styles with back interest also have some sleeves or straps, so it’s different and appealing.”

While at first glance, such styles may favor slimmer bodies, designers and retailers point out that the trend can fit every body type. Brides just need to determine what they’d like to highlight on their frame. Stephanie Chin, co-designer at Val Stefani, suggests a body-skimming style with a cowl back for a woman with a fit backside. A higher neckline gown with a keyhole back will draw the eye upwards and flatter those with broad shoulders.

All these bare backs may make brides question how they can wear a gown and feel supported. At Bliss Bridal, the boutique sews in support cups along the bust during alterations. Better designers also will have plenty of boning built into the dress to provide structure. At Claire Pettibone, gowns with a sheer back will include a sewn-in, strapless and backless underwire bra.

To wear it right and really show off the stunning back details, Chin suggests brides accessorize with minimal jewelry and style their hair with up-dos or away from their faces. Delicate hair combs or birdcage veils can add glamour without overkill to dresses “Try to avoid things that would take away or distract from this look such as necklaces or big earrings,” she says.

If a bride likes the tradition of a veil, she should make sure it’s sheer and long enough to the hit the top of her rear, says Maureen Chandler, owner of Blush Bridal Boutique in Gainesville, Va. “The idea is to keep it simpler in front, but she can also throw in a beaded belt or a sash for a one-of-a-kind look,” Chandler says.

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