90’s Nostalgia Takes over Bridal Fashion
Designers are creating romantic, glamorous gowns for brides so they can get back to celebrating their weddings in a big way
DESPITE THE MANY NEWS REPORTS that COVID-19 had put a damper on weddings over the past two years, the bridal world is doing just fine, thank you. In fact, many bridal boutiques and designers will tell you they’ve had an incredible two years of unbelievably enthusiastic brides. Any scaling down in celebrations is about to change, as this spring brings about our collective, post-pandemic social resurgence.
What does remain constant for brides is the importance of finding the right wedding- day look. The two elements that are non-negotiable this season? Romance and glamour. Whether you’re looking for a traditional ball gown for an evening wedding soirée or a jumpsuit for tying the knot at a destination beach getaway, designers have lined up a season of couture details and handcrafted flourishes.
Nostalgia for the 1990s has reached every level of fashion, and the bridal collections are no exception. But skip the grunge references for the more notable inspiration of Carolyn Bessette. Her Narciso Rodriguez bias-cut slip dress from her 1996 wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. is still one of the most iconic wedding moments of the last century. For a glamorous update on the silhouette, there’s Katherine Tash’s Jane gown, with its defined waist and cowl-draped neckline. Other style odes to the 1990s include body-skimming looks with thigh-high slits (Grace Loves Lace) and side cutouts (Inbar Freiman).
Enaura—a NYC-based line whose gowns are all hand-sewn and beaded using traditional techniques in its family-owned factories in India—interpreted the side cutouts on the Zendaya gown with a tulle overlay, so that the peek-a-boo effect is visible but still elegant.
Vintage aficionados will appreciate the interest in visible corsetry this season. You could call it the “Bridgerton effect,” but lingerie looks have seen a resurgence in fashion after two years of women wearing pandemic-induced loungewear. Bridal designers had a sophisticated take on the trend, from the sheer tulle version at Georgia Young to Anne Barge’s tulle ball gown with French lace appliques.
If you’re looking for a dress that’s less revealing and more covered up, designers are also exploring high collars this season. But high collar doesn’t mean dowdy, as these looks range from sweet to ultra alluring. Grace Loves Lace’s elegant, youthful version features a sweetheart neckline bodice with a scalloped high neck all in the brand’s signature rose lace. Or turn up the drama in Dana Harel’s minimalist A-line gown in ivory silk Mikado with a sheer Chantilly lace bodysuit layered underneath. There’s also Eva Lendel’s satin A-line Helly gown over
a lace-and-sequined bodice.
Of course, there will always be brides who want to buck tradition.
For those looking to forgo the classic hues of white and ivory, opt for a colorful, graceful floral print. It’s a romantic, feminine choice regardless of what type of pattern you decide upon. Monique Lhuillier’s delicate cascades of flowers are seen on two extraordinary crop top and skirt ensembles. Another standout would be a salmon pink, off-the-shoulder gown at Tara LaTour. Or go for Ines Di Santo’s spectacular, overblown blooms. One last option: Instead of a print, Savin London’s corset bodice gown is hand-painted all over with colorful blooms.
Brides planning to skip a traditional ceremony to elope or head out of town for a destination wedding have a few different options. In fact, these next looks are also perfect for those women planning an outfit change for their reception. A jumpsuit, like Eva Lendel’s one-arm beaded version with high-waisted, ankle-length trousers, is a stunner. Plus, an elegant overskirt with a small train can be added to transform the look.
Planning on spending the night on the dance floor? Then show off your gams in a mini dress. A sleek, structured mini by minimalist Australian bridal designer Karen Willis Holmes says is sophisticated, while still being party appropriate. For a mini that says “main event,” Naeem Khan’s Amadora has center stage written all over it. With its micro-mini length, delicately beaded flowers and feather accents, this dress is a showstopper.
And let’s not forget accessories. This season, the accent for your bridal outfit is fine jewelry. Statement earrings are ideal because they offer a big-look payoff without interfering with your neckline. Renowned Denver-based fine jewelry designer John Atencio turns to high-wattage color and elegant curves for his one-of-a-kind morganite and rhodolite garnet earrings. Or opt for a shoulder duster like Melissa Spalten’s vibrant drop earrings with a brilliantly colorful lineup of semi-precious stones. Laurie Kaiser’s gorgeous pear-shaped earrings in 18-karat yellow gold are sprinkled with bezel-set diamonds and are a sophisticated choice for a chandelier.
Then there’s New York-based fine jeweler Rafka. Originally from Riga, Latvia, Rafka designed his extraordinary Aurora earrings with sapphire briolettes and diamonds to bring Old World elegance and craft to a modern design. https://rafka.com
Georgia Alexia Benjou is a regular contributor to Colorado Expression.