BELLE of the BALL:
by Michele Meyer
Brides Forsake Wedding Gown Tradition for High Fashion
Only couture gowns cut it with today's brides.
Beading, tinting and appliqués – all hand-done – transform dresses into artworks often costing hundreds of hours labor and tens of thousands of dollars.
"Ever since I was a little girl I wanted Valentino to design my wedding dress," socialite Nicky Hilton confessed in Harper's Bazaar after merging dynasties with James Rothschild at Kensington Palace last summer. "I studied the archives and sent notes about details I liked – a certain sleeve, a high neckline." Her custom creation of guipure lace embellished with crystals and a 10-foot train took six months to sew.
"A bride's wedding is her red carpet moment," says Terry Hall, fashion director at New York's Kleinfeld bridal salon. "Instead of traditional looks, more brides wear gowns that look like they just came off the ready-to-wear runway!"
Thus, the waist has become the new erogenous zone while some brides, including former Gucci designer Frida Giannini, go with the flow of bohemian chiffon, hers long-sleeved and blush-colored. Others don capes, as did Solange Knowles in a dramatic sleek Kenzo.
If sweetheart strapless bodices over fishtails or princess poufs have disappeared from life's ultimate runway – the wedding aisle – credit Angelina Jolie, whose children's art adorned her Versace gown; Anne Hathaway, whose Valentino train was sprinkled with rose-hued satin flowers; and Amal Clooney, whose Oscar de la Renta off-the-shoulder lace was hand-encrusted with pearls and diamanté.
Our personal faves – equally elaborate – are a beaded tank floating over 200 yards of feathers by Kelly Faetanini – 100 hours in the making – and a butterfly-appliquéd bandeau echoed in a sheer silk organza ball gown, and '50s-fab silk organza shirt dress over hand-embroidered pearl and crystal bra and silk trousers, both by Theia.
All eyes will be on the bride – happily ever after.