Wedding dress designers celebrate return of romance
Audella Bridal House welcomes fresh wave of Israeli designers, whose gowns emphasise intricate detailing and sensuous silhouettes
Wedding dress designers are reshaping the way women think about their biggest splurge on a frock, combining traditional accoutrements into gowns charged with sensuality. Necklines that bare skin, fabrics that play on illusion, and billowing skirts, veils and capes all add a sense of drama and romance, as designers play with silhouettes and a bride’s modesty.
“This year is one of the most glamorous we see with all the brands,” says Erica Ling, director at Audella Bridal House. “We see a lot of elaborate embroidery and embellishments, yet keep the softness with plenty of illusion and sheers. We also are seeing more ruffles, which give a romantic finish.”
The boutique has been instrumental in bringing a fresh wave of bridal designers to Hong Kong, largely from Israel, whose gowns often depart from tradition with a strong emphasis on intricate detailing and sensuous silhouettes.
As well as existing designers including Berta, Inbal Dror and Ersa Atelier, new arrivals include Alon Livné White, whose gowns exude a vintage-royal feel with extravagant detailing; and Lee Petra Grebenau,where highly embroidered and sheer gowns play on romance to exquisite effect.
Tel Aviv-based designer Galia Lahav is now exclusively available at Trinity Bridal, and the new Le Secret Royal collection breaks the designer’s usual body-hugging silhouettes to include gowns with skirts and dramatic trains containing intricate beading and handmade lace applique. Galia Lahav’s Gala line, which launched last year, combines a more contemporary flair with classic detail in a collection containing delicate French guipure lace, floral embroidery and antique pink and ivory lace.
Lace is still a top choice, but designs are evolving from simply pairing it with classic silhouettes, says Carolyn Chow, co-founder of Central Weddings. “Besides a modern cut, lace is often mixed with different elements and styling, to lend romanticism.”
This is displayed in collections at Central Weddings by designers such as Monique Lhuillier, where lace is applied over layers of tulle, a technique also employed by Vera Wang on gowns featuring corseted bodies and ball gown skirts in layers of tulle or raw silk organza. Alençon lace applique trickles down layers of silk white chiffon in collections by Anne Barge; while off-the-shoulder gowns by Marchesa include detachable French Chantilly lace peplums, a trend that gives the bride two styles of gown that can take her from ceremony to dance floor without a change of dress.
Strapless wedding gowns are as classic as it gets in bridal wear, but an off-the-shoulder alternative is giving a fresh dimension to the look. “Strapless necklines have been over-worn in the past and in recent collections designers have come up with variations,” Chow says.
As V-neck gowns grow in popularity, designers are toying more with seduction, adding discreet illusion covers or plunging the V to new depths of daring. “Designers are going bold with V-necks, which is perfect for brides who are daring enough to make a statement,” Chow says.
Other trends include halter-necklines with sheer illusion, lace, embroidery and applique detail giving brides greater variety in the style, seen in collections at Hitched! Bridal by designers such as Temperley.
The designer shows a preference for the billowing effect of capes, another major trend that adds drama and glamour with capes falling from shoulder to the floor and accented with embroidery, beading and lace.
The collection by Temperley is part-bohemian, part-1930s with tattoo embroidery and cord detailing on curve-hugging silhouettes with floating capes.
“This season we see capes with short sleeves, so it is more of a cover-up, and long capes in light fabrics, so when the bride walks down the aisle, the cape will lift and float making it a perfect photo-op moment and dramatic entrance,” says Dana Trang, founder of Hitched! Bridal.
Other designers at Hitched! Bridal include David Fielden, where gowns display a return of tulle skirts with 3D applique, lace and floral detail, “which is feminine and ethereal, and perfect for the romantic bride”, Trang says.
Overskirts are also a strong theme at Designer Bridal, where gowns by international designers such as Zuhair Murad give cascading, removable ball skirts a fairy-tale quality in yards of tulle and embroidery.
The Lebanese designer is known for his use of illusion lace, used on sheer, figure-hugging fabrics with cleverly applied lace embellishments that just about save the bride from blushing.
This bold look is also seen elsewhere at Designer Bridal in collections, such as Atelier Pronovias, where gowns range from lingerie-inspired sheaths and taffeta frocks fit for a ballroom to elegant, crystal-encrusted column silhouettes and gowns with flowing capes.
Designers such as Lanvin and Self-Portrait at Lane Crawford show a preference for capes, while British designer Jenny Packham adds Champagne and beige hues to a collection of slender gowns embellished with jewels.