As a wedding gown designer, I am frequently asked, "What are the latest trends in bridal?", and I honestly just don't get it. This is not the hottest club or latest gallery opening you are going to, this is your wedding!!! As anyone who follows my work knows, I have a sincere devotion to all things vintage and a unique approach to dressing the bride. Some have called me "non-traditional" perhaps because I don't restrict the idea of what a wedding gown can be to the ubiquitous ball gown.
In my mind, part of what makes a wedding a wedding, is the sense of history and family that are celebrated on this day. It is, of course, about the lovely couple (and yes, the dress!), but it's also about tradition in whatever way that is significant for you, and your grandparents, and your annoying cousin, and the foods you love, and the prayers or poems you choose to recite. A wedding is beyond trends: it's the opposite of trends. It is meaningful, and genuine, and one day that symbolizes something that is supposed to LAST. Not for a day, or a season, or until the next big thing comes along, but for your LIFETIME!
The thing about trends is they don't become completely apparent until a few years or even a decade or more has passed when we have the distance to clearly see the pattern. A few years ago, colored sashes became all the rage and still pop up on many a wedding gown. It is a fairly risk-free way to introduce color to the bride's dress. But because it became such a trend, we saw it in virtually every designer's collection for a few seasons. While there is nothing wrong with a pretty sash, do keep in mind this will probably date your wedding circa early 2000s years from now.
We are all products of the time in which we live. Just like those of us who grew up wearing low rise jeans feel funny in a high waist, the fashions that we are exposed to in our lives do shape what we find attractive. So, if pink dresses, sleeves, vintage, rustic, lace, peplums, illusion necklines or metallics feel oh so "you" then go for it! If something really resonates deeply, odds are you will love it (or at least remember fondly why you loved it) 20 or 30 years from now. I just think it's a little crazy to choose something for what is supposed to be an enduring symbol of your union JUST because it happens to be in fashion that particular season.
So how do you avoid falling victim to wedding trends? You probably can't, but here's a tip when it comes to the dress: be true to yourself. Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy certainly re-defined what a wedding gown could be, and perhaps started the shift towards a simple silhouette, yet when I look at those photos, they don't look dated at all. She looks classic, iconic, and most importantly, genuinely joyful and confident. I kind of have the opposite feeling when looking back at Princess Diana. You definitely think "1980s" when you see her wedding pictures, and she looks overwhelmed by the volume and excess that was so emblematic of that decade. In retrospect, we all know she WAS overwhelmed and in many ways a victim of the time in which she lived and the role she was about to take on. The latest royal, lovely Kate, chose a dress that fit the majesty of the occasion, but also suited her personally. As a designer, I would have loved to see her choose something a bit more original, but at the same time, her gown was so fitting on every level.
For today's "non-princess" brides, one recent trend I fully support is the move towards individuality. I'm thrilled that more and more brides are confident in their personal style, and resisting the pressure to fit into a particular "bridal" mold. We are seeing alternatives to strapless meringue and even (gasp!) color in wedding gowns. But really, it's not about a sleeve or a sash or a vineyard or a ballroom. Does this wedding come from the heart? Does it tell the story of you as a couple? Does it celebrate the unique blend of the two of you?
When considering a wedding gown, my advice is to choose something that moves you, that makes you feel happy and your most beautiful, that you know will melt your soon-to-be spouse's heart. Choose a gown that you will look back 20 years from now and think, 'Wow, look how young we were' (even if you aren't that young, 20 years from now, trust me, you'll revise that opinion!). You will look back and see how in love you were, and if you pay more attention to choosing the right partner than obsessing over silhouettes and table settings, hopefully you still will be! Antique lace, sleeves, illusion backs and floral embellishments...these are all things that stir my soul, and maybe they are, or will be trends. When I design a collection, so many things inspire me...the latest bridal trends? I say, start your own.
Follow Claire Pettibone on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ClairePettibone