“There is more appreciation and dedication to making this special day memorable after so many cancellations,” said Stephanie White, the founder and creative director of bridal line Odylyne the Ceremony.
“The energy of excitement for 2022 and 2023 is really big right now and brides are daring more,” she added.
It was this mood that dominated last week’s New York Bridal Fashion Week, which took place April 4-8, and largely in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Like the bigger dresses that almost announce “I’m Finally wed after much delay,” the new bridal collections for Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 focused largely on fabric, detailing and new silhouettes.
“With our new collection, we wanted to show the craftsmanship behind the dresses,” said Sarah Swann, the chief creative officer at Amsale, a bridal studio in New York City. “There’s more couture and couture-like skills and a lot of customization for an exceptional fit.”
Shawne Jacobs, Anne Barge’s creative director and president of parent company S. Jacobs, also noted that many brides were “smarter and better educated about what they want.”
Here are some highlights from the latest bridal collections.
Bridal designers made the traditional lace wedding dress fresh and contemporary. In a nod to the grand dresses of the past decades (à la Grace Kelly and company), the long-sleeved tulle bodices and high necklines were hand-embroidered with oversized flowers for a modern look.
“Classic is still very popular,” says Ms. Jacobs, whose new collection featured a stand-up collar dress with sequined floral embroidery. “But today’s brides want it more fashionable so it stands out.”
Designer Sareh Nouri showed a taffeta ball gown with a tulle bodice with floral embroidery. Verdin Bridal’s take on this timeless look was a romantic tulle ball gown with a detachable 3D floral embroidered jacket.
Trains and streamers
Part traditional train and part theatrical cape, the Watteau train added a touch of formality with a bit of edginess this season. On mini dresses, sheaths and ball gowns, the Watteau train was worn on the shoulders or back of bodices for a grand entrance, then easily removed to transform the look for the post-ceremony celebration.
A floral jacquard fit-to-flare dress from Amsale with a detachable Watteau cape. Rivini added a detachable, floating tulle Watteau cape to a beaded lace sheath. And Monique Lhuillier’s floral-embroidered mini dress was memorable with a matching Watteau train towing.
Designers also answered the bride’s call for an equally dramatic alternative to a veil or cape with long tulle garlands that fall from the shoulders and trail behind a dress. Ines from Ines Di Santo used tulle streamers to sport a shimmery, sleeveless A-line dress. GALA by Galia Lahav used tulle garlands to double up long, fairytale illusion sleeves. And Watters framed a V-open back on a frothy tulle A-line gown with ethereal layers of tulle streamers.
Puff sleeves and detachable sleeves
The puff sleeve wedding dress, which was popular in the 80s, is popular again with a modern update. No longer overwhelming and stiff, this sassy detail adds dimension and movement to a bridal look.
There were detachable and removable short puff sleeves on ball gown, A-line and mermaid silhouettes in a variety of luxurious fabrics from embroidered silk tulle to airy taffeta. Reem Acra showed a regal, sleeveless silk ball gown with playful puff sleeves. Monique Lhuillier detailed a Juliet-esque ball gown in silk and tulle with a lace-up back and removable puff sleeves. And Halfpenny London’s billowing dress in packable, lightweight taffeta (good for a destination wedding) is accentuated by matching voluminous puff sleeves.
There was a return to strapless styles, too. “More brides want bare shoulders for the drama and elegance after two years of not dressing up,” said Sharon Sever, Galia Lahav’s chief designer.
Offering the best of both worlds, designers showcased strapless wedding gowns with detachable long sleeves, detailed with a trendy ottoman for extra size, such as Lihi Hod’s slim-cut silk Mikado dress, Rivini’s silk fit-and-flare dress with a bubble skirt, and Willowby’s satin fitted dress with a slightly draped bodice.
Feathers and fringe
Brides are ready to party — and dresses with festive feathers or fringes fit that mood. “I believe 2022 will open up endless possibilities and brides will go all out in fashionable and memorable ways,” said designer Ines Di Santo.
Inspired by the Roaring ’20s, this look works as a bride’s main dress or her second look. Ms. Di Santo’s new collection includes an embroidered halter midi sheath with a feather skirt. Hermione de Paula presented an embroidered tulle column dress with a dropped waist and long hemline, while Dana Harel detailed a figure-hugging tulle dress with flirty feathers. And because designers know that feathers aren’t just for dressing up a dress, Monique Lhuillier showed her collection with a striking shoe adorned with delicate plumes that stare at me.
Pantsuits, trousers and jumpsuits were also part of the bridal range. “There are so many different types of brides and designers want to show them a new way of dressing for their wedding,” said Ms Swann. “For same-sex weddings or the bride who wants more than one look for her big day, there are many more choices.”
Amsale debuted a peplum tuxedo suit, complete with a detachable tulle skirt. Nadia Manjarrez Studio Bridal introduced a matte crepe jumpsuit with a light peplum bustier and side leg slits. And Costarellos paired a polka dot shirt, voluminous sleeves and chic trousers for a look befitting a honeymoon or honeymoon.