A rise in informal weddings and an interest in vintage and repurposed gowns by the sustainably-minded younger bride has caused consternation in the sector, together with the unsettled financial climate. News that LVMH shares fell up to 8 percent in its third quarter after a 3 year growth period has prompted experts to predict a luxury buying slowdown. There is no purchase more luxury for many people than a wedding dress. Last year the global bridal market was estimated to be 43 billion dollars, still riding on a post-pandemic wedding surge that now seems to have leveled off. The 70-year-old behemoth David’s Bridal filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. And with the focus on the Gen Z consumer, the oldest of which is now in their mid-20s, brands must be aware that the customer's values will guide every purchase for their special day. We look at the 6 wedding trends shown during New York Bridal Fashion Week that reflect these realities.
Short cuts and spirited separates
Younger brides are looking for less fuss and more versatility. Short dresses were ubiquitous across NYBFW, designed with white fabric roses erupting from beneath a satin peplum at Nicole & Felicia or as seen at Milla Nova where a traditional corset was paired with heavily ruffled super short skirt, the model carrying a matching ruffled purse. The pearl embroidered mini dresses at Sareh Nouri were just about the length of the average elbow glove, while baby doll silhouettes and A-line dresses with intricate lingerie-inspired bust detailing in Israeli designer Julie Vino’s collection were adorned with sun ray sparkles radiating down a flippy miniskirt to rival the high glam stage wardrobe of a Vegas showgirl. But all this abbreviation allows for styling opportunities.A sequined minidress was presented with a leg-of-mutton sleeved silk taffeta overdress at Yolancino, and fitted opulently embellished gowns were paired with a sweeping boa-trimmed coat at Milla Nova. But the layering item for 2024 wedding season is the cape. It was short and puffy designed to be shrugged on over long gowns at Francesca Miranda, grazing the floor and sculptural at Marcela, long and satin with formidable should pads at Julie Vino, or crystal embellished at Honor.
At quirky LA-based label, Yellow By Sahar, the bride can choose to wear 3 pieces—a dress plus detachable train and unique little yoke-shaped shoulder cozy, for want of a better word—to suit the various stages of her wedding day. Lace tailored suits with flesh-toned lining turned up at Francesca Miranda or satin and shawl-collared, decorated with a single oversized vertical bow at Baé. Badgley Mischka proposed removable color blocking in the form of bows and sleeves in shades of baby blue and seafoam. At Moira Hughes, the bride can opt for a strapless corseted top worn with a dramatic ballgown skirt all in satin, which for evening can be swapped out for a flirty skirt full of godets perfect for twirling on the dance floor. But for the most casual of brides, a draped bandeau top, flared pants with lace appliqué along the hem and a lace skull cap brings the music festival up the aisle care of Tempête.
Bridal bouquets might prove redundant as tea roses prints and hand painting take the spotlight. At Moira Hughes, a floral print reminiscent of drawing room curtains was draped across the bust, billowing in the sleeve, with a full skirt slashed to the upper thigh to produce a romantic spectacle for the less traditional bride. At Amsale, who has just opened a Wooster Street store, the brand's buoyant feeling about the season ahead was perhaps reflected in a dreamy blue print organza gown dress which stole attention from the white laces and satins. Black all-over embroidery on white organza, also floral but so delicate it looked like a charcoal drawing was striking at Nadia Manjarrez, but the artistic hand was especially evident in hand painting. On veils this allowed brides the opportunity to enliven even the simplest column with a flurry of petals at the hem as proposed by 35-year old accessory specialists Paris by Debora Moreland or Paris-trained Halima Grine, while examples of hand painting extended into gowns at Tal Kedem and Zahra Batool Couture, the designer behind the latter combining two trends by painting her meandering flora along the train of a cape.
Curvy bands, and indeed curvy models, are still a rarity at NYBFW but New Zealand based Hera Couture focuses on an expansive size inclusivity range, and particularly notable is Tel Aviv-based Studio Levana who sell off-the-rack dresses up to size 32 and can create bespoke gowns up to size 46. The dresses are designed to have a lightweight aesthetic which disguises the patented corsetry technology built into each one designed to keep the wearer feeling secure and confident. For a minimal charge they offer limitless customization options on all gowns.
The Magic of Minimalism
Quiet Luxury hits bridal. Budapest brand, Daalarna speaks to a nymphlike bride with dresses that are uncomplicated with underpinning, focusing on delicate draping and gathering, exploiting the lightness of the fabrics, several of which, as translucent as moonlight on skin, were particularly pretty. At Sophie Et Voilà from Barcelona, whose ready-to-wear line is popular with celebrities, satin columns with points of intense interest such as a row of handmade roses across a neckline or clean bodices with sarong wrap skirts were their speciality. Copenhagen-based Zoe Rowyn proposes a silk slip dress every collection, but this season offers a lace floor-length blouse cut away above the bust, held together by a single button at the throat for a charming layered look. In contrast to the frothy gathered and beaded tulle veils, Halima Grine’s sculptural “veil” using crinoline technology felt cute and modern.
Embrace large scale
Grand statements still, of course, exist with stiff architectural gowns jostling for dominance on the racks at Valentini of Puglia, Italy, as well as large scale appliqué, also present in Miami-based Jorge Manuel’s collection. A former architect, Manuel was inspired to create bridal after his grandmother who created gowns for private clients from her home, and his collection boasts ornate textures such as laser burn out brocade and dense embroideries created by a family of artisans based in Mumbai. The laser technique also shows up in more lightweight fabrics in tonal floral motifs but remains large-scale. Baroque detailing in embellishment and seaming approached the level of couture at Barcelona-studio J’Aton and there were decadently beaded motifs at Leah Da Gloria, as well as feathers and laser cut motifs at Lebanese brand Gemy Maalouf. Marco & Maria, not only provided an alternative to minimalism but also seemed to be trying to attract the eye of a vintage customer by incorporating colorful embroideries on tea colored dresses or black lace layered over ecru.
Non Binary enters the wedding chat
Weddingwear that is finally moving away from the gender binary traditions of white lace and frills for the bride and a suit or tailcoat for the groom was on display at Ukrainian brand Milla Nova in their presentation in a Tribeca art gallery. Proving that love knows no boundaries big ruffled roses covered a zipperless jacket not unlike the shape of a bomber, worn over a crystal embellished half-corset, white pants and sneakers. There was also a richly textured Nehru-collared lace gilet that looked especially nonchalant worn with floppy pants. And for the grander gesture, a half corset and pants with a sheer dramatically flared overdress encrusted with pearls at the neck and shoulders and embellished with plissé rosettes on its voluminous train.