From dream-worthy gowns to two-for-one options that allow the bride to switch looks from ceremony to reception, wedding dress collections flow with variety that guarantees every bride will find “the one”, whatever her taste or budget.
Brides-to-be are leading one of the biggest trends in bridal wear, with many reconsidering their wedding dress budget in order to spend more on other parts of their big day. As a result, wedding dress designers are finding new ways to give brides more value for their money.
“Many designers are coming with a second label, which are equally competitive in terms of design and quality but offered at a lower price point than their couture lines,” says Carolyn Chow, co-founder at bridal boutique Central Weddings.
Second labels at the boutique include Monique Lhuillier’s Bliss collection, and the newly arrived Notte collection by Marchesa with a starting price of HK$22,000. “There is lots of detail and delicate workmanship on these gowns and the designs are just as glamorous as the couture ones,” Chow says.
According to Chow, this more budget-savvy approach to wedding dresses is also seeing brides search for gowns with add-on or detachable elements that allow them to create different looks with one dress.
“Designers are now offering options for creating a second look on their gowns,” Chow says. “Monique Lhuillier has added a dreamy tulle overskirt to her signature embroidered sheath gown so the bride can walk down the aisle with a dramatic train, which she can easily remove so that she can complete her first dance in an equally elegant but more mobile sheath gown.” Israel-born, Britain-based Persy Bridal Couture is also a new addition at Central Weddings offering a two-for-one solution, with the current collection including a lace gown with long sleeves that can be removed once the formalities of the ceremony
A similar theme is being played out at Hitched! Bridal, where separate bodices and skirts by designers such as David Fielden allow brides to create more than one look without buying multiple dresses.
“Brides love it because of its versatility,” says Hitched! Bridal founder Dana Trang. “They can mix a bustier top with an A-line tulle skirt with a long train for the ceremony and a bias-cut skirt for the reception. There is a bohemian trend going on where brides like to match a loose lace top with a more relaxed skirt.”
According to Trang, semi-sheer gowns with layers of lace, tulle and appliqué over a blush lining are replacing the “naked” sheer effect that many brides found too revealing, instead giving brides more modesty that is, “Romantic and ethereal because it is soft, and yet still appropriately sexy,” Trang says.
The otherworldly theme continues at Winnie Couture where romantic silhouettes, plunging necklines and clouds of tulle and flirty organza skirts are combined with decadent lace, translucent motifs and floral embellishments that, “transport brides to an enchanted time and dreamy fantasy setting”, according to the boutique.
Trinity Bridal’s managing director, Cecile Chen, says Hong Kong-based brides are on top of trends and their preferences are always changing. “Our brides know fashion and are not afraid to embrace trends even on the most traditional of days, their wedding day,” Chen says.
These include the trend for daringly low cut necklines, with designers such as Israel-based Galia Lahav slashing sensual silhouettes to the navel in off-the-shoulder fashion with floral appliqué finishes, while others such as local favourite Oscar de la Renta put a more subtle spin on the theme.
His low cut necklines are softened with ethereal A-line silhouettes in lace, appliqué and tulle that “embody the trend classically for the fashion bride that is romantically traditional”, Chen says.
Oscar de la Renta also hints at an emerging trend for silk crepe gowns with architectural draping, accentuated with sheer lace panels that “Set off a militia chic vibe”, according to Chen.
Glamorous, figure-hugging silhouettes stitched to accentuate every curve are still the domain of Israeli designers such as Berta and Inbal Dror at Audella Bridal Boutique.
Boutique director, Erica Ling, says strapless mermaid dresses are embellished with embroidered tulle and a big, French lace train, while gowns “with a royal or princess feel are also proving popular, and off-the-shoulder ball gowns with exquisite detailing and a sprinkle of beam or crystals are sweet and dreamy”.
New designers at the boutique also hail from Israel including Alon Livne White and Lee Petra Grebenau, whose designs span the romantic, classic and modern with “uniquely breathtaking silhouettes”, according to Ling.
Meanwhile, relatively new additions to Hong Kong’s bridal scene are bringing their own fresh take on bridal wear.
A largely independent range of designers, mostly from the US, can be found at Miss Bride including Hayley Paige, Alvina Valenta, Watters, Alexandra Grecco and Jenny Yoo. Emerging themes among these brands include the return of the bow, with oversized knots tied, belted and folded into sashes to create a dramatic focal point to gowns.
Hong Kong born Rania Hatoum established her business in the US before returning home last year to open her eponymous boutique.
The designer’s Chinese-Egyptian heritage is subtly displayed in collections, with current themes paying homage to the 1940s and 1950s with baroque lace and beaded bodices against a vintage palette of blush, ivory, Champagne and bronze.