Last year very few brides walked down the aisle as planned. According to the wedding planning app Bridebook.com, around 15 million weddings around the world have been postponed due to the pandemic. In the UK, where marriages have been banned or restricted since last spring, many brides have simply decided to indulge in smaller, more intimate ceremonies, and with that decision came a sense of freedom. And many women have taken to the runway for bridal fashion inspiration.
“Versatile pieces like Emilia Wickstead’s draped high neck midi dress, Christopher Kane tailoring, Vivienne Westwood maxi dresses and Stephen Jones headdresses all worked well,” said Natalie Kingham, Global Head of Fashion. fashion at Matchesfashion, the London-based Luxury Retailer. The retailer launched its own ‘Wedding Edition’ in early 2020. “We anticipate a shift towards feminine and romantic wedding dresses and statement pieces that will make an impact on the big day,” Kingham said.
While not everyone has the budget for high fashion, the move away from traditional bridal wear has certainly been noticeable. In a 2020 report by Bridebook.com, 67% of brides no longer want a traditional wedding dress.
“The once-to-wear meringue dress has passed in favor of dramatic silk pantsuits and partings that can be dyed a different color for new life,” said founder Hamish Shepard. Search for jumpsuits and pantsuits increased 200% last year on the app.
Awon Golding, the London-based milliner known for her contemporary headdresses, wore a jumpsuit on her wedding day four years ago in Goa, India. Now she’s busy making headdresses for the brides who have all had to cut back on their nuptials.
“People choose shorter dresses over long dresses, headbands over long veils; there have been a lot of birdcage veils,” said Golding, who is also chief headwear director at Lock. & Co. Hatters, the London hat store. “I have a bride I’m making an abstract tulle veil for, who wears a black Vampire’s Wife dress, and she wears it with opera length gloves. It’s completely over there, but it will be. gorgeous. It’s great that people are willing to think outside the box. “
This is exactly the thought that led Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey, founders of London-based label Rixo, to launch their vintage-inspired 26-piece bridal line during London Fashion Week in February.
“No one was doing what we imagined a bridal line should look like, and we really felt like we had the ingredients to make it work,” McCloskey said. These ingredients include ruffled feather hems; an entirely glittery ivory midi; a fringed and embroidered halter neck; and a chic combination.
“We want our brides to dance and have a good time and just feel amazing,” Rix added.
Love was in the air elsewhere during the fall 2021 collections in London, all of which took place digitally for the first time in its 35-year history. The duo behind the Palmer Harding label presented their runway, titled “I Love You”, with several of their iconic shirts as well as a white eyelet dress with horizontal pleats and puffed sleeves that had an air of structured romance, perfect for a relaxed spring wedding.
At Temperley London, which launched its own separate bridal line in 2016, there were festival-inspired looks, from frilly lace pieces to vibrant florals offering a kaleidoscope of color that would brighten up any nuptials. A glittering gold lam halter neck with romantic ruffle sleeves and peek-a-boo shoulders would enhance any celebration.
There were more romantic offerings at Bora Aksu, where the Turkish-born designer recorded his show in the awe-inspiring setting of Tate Britain’s neoclassical central hall. Showcasing a vibrant selection of organza and lace dresses, inspired by the French Revolution, many had the ruffle and decadent feel of the Golden Globe nominated Netflix period hit drama “Bridgerton” or “The Great”. One of these designs featured layers of sparkling white tulle and lace and was completed with a veil cape. The look was accessorized with long white gloves embroidered with yellow spring flowers – perhaps signifying a new dawn physically and metaphorically.
With the recently announced plans to lift lockdown restrictions in England, including the gradual relaxation of wedding restrictions throughout the summer, unwritten rules regarding bridal wear may cease to exist.
For Erdem Moralioglu, who debuted on the bride in February, alternative bridal wear has always interested him. Moralioglu, who launched his eponymous brand Erdem in 2005, said he wanted to give brides a more streamlined aesthetic that could be found in multiple garments. “I think there’s something wonderful about creating something that has permanence,” he said. “There are pieces in the collection that you will keep forever.”