Bridal trends: What's on the horizon?

By Melissa Gardi

When it comes to bridal fashion, editor of New Zealand Weddings Magazine Melissa Gardi has her eye on the horizon. Here, she sheds light on the emerging bridal trends set to be revealed at New Zealand Fashion Week.

Dresses from Anna Schimmel. Photo / NZ Weddings magazine
Dresses from Anna Schimmel. Photo / NZ Weddings magazine

For the past three years, the New Zealand Weddings Magazine Collection has been a public favourite at Fashion Week. With more than 60 looks to appeal to every bride's taste, as well as pieces for grooms and flower girls, this year's designs reflect the latest trends both at home and overseas.

Starting the search for a wedding gown is a revelation for most brides, discovering for the first time that there are more than a dozen shades of white. But though the nuances of bridalwear may seem over the top, when you're paying big bucks for a dress, every little detail counts.

Whether a bride's budget is in the hundreds or thousands, there's a savvy way to wed, and it starts with style. Every woman wants to live the fairytale wearing the dress of her dreams, and the stunning designer gowns by Michelle Yvette, John Zimmermann, A La Robe, Sera Lilly, Vinka Design, Anna Schimmel and Alma J that will be on the runway during Fashion Weekend are far from cookie-cutter confections.

CLARITY

Designers are dazzling brides the world over with high-shine fabrics and embellishments that pronounce the new season of bridalwear to be one where love rules and optimism prevails. When it comes to the details, encrusted necklines and diamante trims abound, as seen in the newest creations by Kiwi designer Michelle Yvette. She doesn't hold back on the high drama, teaming lustrous silks and satins with sparkle to guarantee the bride will shine on her big day.

'Embellishment with diamantes and crystals is a dominant theme in my collection," says Yvette of the gowns she'll showcase as part of the New Zealand Weddings Magazine show. "Too much is never enough. I love how they catch they light, enhancing the silhouette and pleasing the eye."

Where does this inspiration come from? For Yvette, a trip to Las Vegas was a catalyst. "With all its vibrancy and bright lights, everything in Vegas is overdone - it bedazzles!"

Similarly enthusiastic is John Zimmermann, a designer synonymous with glamorous, sculptural silhouettes. This season he doesn't fail to disappoint the bride looking for a dress with a difference, defining his grand outlook with a focus on 1930s Hollywood and magnificent, floor-sweeping skirts adorned with heavy beading and embroidery - some of which tip the scales at 10kg. Why would a woman wear something that takes such effort to carry? "It's all about presence and the theatre of the gown," explains Zimmerman. "She'll sparkle like she's meant to on a special occasion such as this."

Sometimes it's the smallest details that make the biggest statements, and the intricate handiwork evident in Anna Schimmel's gowns includes a maze of embroidery accented with floral crystals. Says Schimmel: "To create a sense of drama I enriched my gowns with textured lace and beading that flows softly up towards the neckline."

It wouldn't be a wedding without lace, chiffon and silk, and they're in full flight in the pieces Schimmel's sending down the runway. Brides' imaginations are set free with feather-light fabrics in the form of jackets and wraps bringing a new dimension to her well-structured silhouettes made from satin that shines and even stretches.

COLOUR

In these modern times, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see a bright hue waltz down the aisle, but the riot of colour seen in recent seasons has been superseded by muted pastel tones. A pale palette is gaining popularity, in washes of blush pink, soft gold and watery green, such as those used by New Zealand Weddings Magazine Collection designer Elizabeth Soljak in her newest creations for A La Robe. The delicate colour transitions of Soljak's fabrics are achieved through dip-dyeing and heightened by collaborating with Susan Christensen from Orlando Flowers on floral art for the bride who's not keen on carrying a bouquet.

Drawing a comparison between nature's shifting shadows and the various stages of the bridal experience, Soljak says, "I wanted to show a change of colour that's gradual, like how a woman changes from bride-to-be to wife, and to reflect the emotions that go along with that transformation."

Another trend involves mixing different tones of a single colour. As opposed to embellishing their gowns with accents, designers are washing their entire ensembles in sorbet shades. "Not every bride wants to wear white, but she'll still want to feel feminine," says Alma Joung of Alma J Bridal Boutique.

"The secret is to find a colour that suits your skin tone as well as your taste."

The peachy-pink tulles and chiffons Joung is using may be of the moment, but applied to traditional silhouettes with a 1920s charm, they retain a classic appeal. The fabrics are almost transparent, but layering makes their harmonious colours appear more vivid, and they're prevented from floating away by cinched satin belts.

CUT

From alluring asymmetrical necklines to short skirts, the current silhouettes are both riveting and romantic. Laser-cut fabrics and peep-holes train wedding guests' eyes to the curve of a bride's back as she takes her vows. Sera Lilly's shapely gowns mix modern function with minimalist form, carrying brides smoothly from formalities to festivities. Though lashings of lace up the luxe factor, Lilly's frocks have wide appeal, especially for free-spirited brides. Her flower girl dresses are youthful but elegant, embellished with feminine frills and pretty prints. "A wedding dress shouldn't be about risk," says Sera. "I want brides to revel in wearing something that perfectly suits the spirit of their day."

Injecting a modern energy into her family business based on the beloved tradition of marriage, Anita Turner-Williams of iconic wedding design house Vinka Design proves there are no limits when it comes to celebrating the female form. Her exaggerated use of draping is nothing if not high-impact, and her collection features ruching, cascading ruffles, diaphanous layers of fabric cut at various lengths and body-conscious shapes. She ventures to the edge without crossing the line. "I design for the bride who's a sign of the times - busy and strong - who wants to build a dynamic life," says Turner-Williams. "She's not afraid to stand out from the crowd - in fact, she relishes in it."

WIN WITH VIVA

Viva has five tickets to the New Zealand Weddings Magazine Collection show on Sunday, September 9 at 10.30am, at Fashion Weekend in Auckland and five tickets to the Bridal Beauty Seminar (at 1.30pm) to give away. To enter go to nzherald.co.nz/vivagiveaways and enter the keyword Fashion Week Weddings on the VIP Viva page along with details. Entries close at 11.59pm on Sunday, August 19, 2012. For terms and conditions see the website.

Plus, be in to win an $8000 Fashion Week Experience - for details, see the Winter 2012 issue of New Zealand Weddings, out now.

* Set your sights to 60 looks on the catwalk at the New Zealand Weddings Magazine Collection show, which includes menswear by Crane Brothers and flower girl dresses by Sera Lilly. Tickets $12 each from iticket.co.nz, newzealandweddings.co.nz and nzfashionweek.com.

- NZ Herald

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