With the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle approaching, princesses were a hot topic of conversation during Bridal Fashion Week, April 11-14, in New York.
Who will dress the American for her big day on May 19 and what style she will choose remain a locked-down mystery.
“I hope she’s got an American brand on, I really do,” said London-based designer Kate Halfpenny, founder of Halfpenny London who shows in New York twice a year to be closer to buyers.
“I’d love her to be in an Oscar (de la Renta) or a Carolina (Herrera). I think she’ll be clean and simple. I think she’ll be nothing like Kate, nothing like Pippa. Maybe off the shoulder, very open but with a very lacy veil,” she said.
Naeem Khan, who went glitter rock chick in a collection of after-party glitz, said that whatever Markle chooses, she’ll influence the market.
“I think Meghan is a very, very cool modern princess,” he said. “People love her and women will love to dress like her.”
Taking a break between bridal shows at her penthouse flagship in Manhattan, designer Romona Keveza said much is at stake for Markle on her wedding day.
“She has the opportunity to break barriers or set barriers back 100 years just by her wedding dress,” she said. “It’s going to depend on who she listens to.”
Reem Acra, whose Prophet collection was both princessy and angelic, envisions Markle in a ballgown. The royal wedding will carry a message for the next generation of brides, she said.
“Everything is possible and we all can become princesses, we all can become queens,” said Acra. “That message is going to be so strong in the wedding world.”
Some highlights from Bridal Fashion Week:
Just back [email protected] York and what a lovely surprise to see my gorgeous @lydiaemillen in @blogosphere_magazine shot by the clever :@alex_cameron wearing the Dita skirt and Rosa jacket. I just love this ladies smile, her laughter is infectious too. .. . . . . . #londonbride #weddingdresseslondon #halfpennylondon #coolmantic #britishbridal #bridalwear #halfpennybride #citybride #fashionbride #coolbride #lydiaemillen
A post shared by Kate Halfpenny (@halfpennylondon) on Apr 17, 2018 at 7:41am PDT
As a stylist, Halfpenny worked with Rihanna and Kate Moss before launching her bridal company in 2005. She now relishes offering regular women star treatment both online and in 26 namesake stores around the world.
She’s all about mixing textures and fabrics for brides who want contemporary but just outside the box. One look was all-over lace adorned with tiny stars that have a touch of metallic so they glitter under bright lights, with a long veil to match. Another used stretchy dotted lace for a draped sleeve with a matching overlay on a dress that showed off a model’s curves.
A post shared by Kate Halfpenny (@halfpennylondon) on Apr 16, 2018 at 1:05pm PDT
Halfpenny stiffened lace with pleats and paired that with a stout but soft and pliable mikado for a flutter-style sleeve that stayed in place. Overskirts with pockets opened to sleek column gowns and a cape was trimmed in feathers.
Having always given her gowns feminine names, Halfpenny is honouring the men in her life with namesake looks in this collection for next spring. But, she said, “No exes. Absolutely no exes.”
Every client is Acra’s queen. This season she gave models spring buds on branches and put flowers on their crowns as they walked down her aisle at the majestic main branch of the New York Public Library.
With names that included “Gate to Eternity”, the Beirut native used Lebanese-American Kahlil Gibran and his book The Prophet as her muse.
Flowers dominated, in detailing and fabrics. She included a floral Jacquard and silk faille.
One modern, fitted look had a large jewel bow adornment. Acra also showed a multitude of full skirts, both stiff ball gown silhouettes and flowing pleated forms.
The marriage of worlds between an American actress and Prince Harry was mirrored in a union of fabrics featuring intricate beading and embroideries, worked on by hand in both Europe and America.
“This collection has an intellectual feeling,” Acra said. “It’s kind of an empowerment of how all these hands put together from all over the world make such a beautiful thing.”
Chances are you know a bride who has worn Keveza. She showed three lines, including her Legends collection. One gown was a strapless fit-and-flare in white with a large black bow attached at the back, its tails trailing behind as a train. Another had a stiff cape that lent it a 1950s feel.
Keveza honoured everybody from Jackie O and Princess Diana to the oft-married Elizabeth Taylor and an American who never was queen, Wallis Simpson. An ivory ball gown with a deep-V neckline and illusion sleeves was an ode to the elegance of Princess Grace of Monaco, among the OG American actresses to become royalty.
Keveza’s Romona New York collection was young and flirty. One strapless gown that hugged and flared in all the right places was fitted with lace pieces attached at the waist to flap like wings.
Her namesake Romona Keveza collection had some big royal moments in silvery sheens with traditional touches of embroidery and lace, all inspired by grand venues around the world.
There was a dainty off-the-shoulder gown with a modest plunge at the neck and light touches of classic embellishment, with Versailles as a muse. A long-sleeve gown with a full skirt and high boatneck took a Buckingham Palace feel. Her look inspired by Windsor Castle, where Markle will wed her prince, had long sheer sleeves and neck attached to a less voluminous white dress.
She did not have the royal wedding in mind. She had bold reds and yellows and greens, light purples and pinks, on the brain.
The drama this season came in layers and layers of crinkly tulle, and huge flowers at the hip, neck and back, and trains for days. There were some space agey fitted light taupe dresses with blocky structured shoulders as well.
Wang’s brides were a touch angsty. One wore a skin tone bustier draped in darker lace, paired with crinkly, wispy long layers in ominous dark colours that looked like storm clouds.
She trimmed tulle in lace hems and offered a few flowing bows at the waists in pink and yellow. These brides wore their hair loose and wild, curly and tossed, ponytailed and pixie short.
The inspiration in general was that of the Flemish painters, Vermeer among them.
In a jumpsuit, a tracksuit, in a cape that ties with a ribbon, in metallic golds and silver, Khan’s “rocker” collection is perfect for drinking and dancing.
“My bride is somebody that actually wears multiple things through the evening, so she’ll wear something for dinner, something to greet the guests in, the main dress and something to dance in. So we design multiple pieces for her for the whole night,” he said.
The above mentioned cape, for instance, can be removed to reveal a cocktail dress underneath. His designs were his trademark ornate with dazzling sequins, beads and feathers as accents.
“The American bride is getting very, very fashion conscious,” he said, in an industry once dominated by manufacturers.
“It’s not your standard wedding dress,” Khan added. “It’s a fashion moment.”