Contribute By : Evan Hirsch
With post-pandemic matrimony finally bouncing back, the alters are set, and the aisles are ready for the procession. But arguable the most important question for the happy couple is: What will the bride be wearing? The dress seals the whole package. Sweetheart or halter, ball gown or mermaid, lace or tulle. Brides are increasingly eager to trade the sweatpants and zoom ceremony for a sweeping silk train cascading down the aisle. Whether a beachfront wedding or a nineteenth century castle in more your speed, the gowns shown at this year’s New York Bridal Fashion Week would have anyone dreaming of their ideal special day.
Bridal fashion week was held over a span of three days. While most brands chose to show to buyers at appointment only presentations, designers such as Naeem Khan and Sachin and Babi chose to display their Spring/Summer 2023 collections on a runway setting. Most of the other presentations were displayed at the two floor Union Square Bridal Market on Fifth Avenue and One Fine Day Bridal Market on Tenth Avenue. Other bridal brands chose creative tactics by booking penthouse hotel rooms; turning bedrooms into dressing rooms and luxurious living rooms into catwalks and viewing areas.
The first presentation that started a day before the official kickoff day of NYBFW was Theia Couture. Known for fabulous evening gowns and handcrafted bridal looks, this collection truly did not disappoint. A Theia bride knows her silhouette and wants to highlight these features with clean lines and just the right amount of beading and lace. These details are carefully placed in each gown, allowing the bride’s natural beauty to speak in tandem with her Theia gown. Some obvious standouts in this collection was a classic A-line gown with asymmetrical cutouts, a fringe mini dress for the perfect party outfit change, a one shoulder hand placed and beaded column dress, and a classic corset gown paired with a colorful embroidered tulle vail with hand-done bugle beads. In addition to the new collection, Theia was also showcasing their permanent bestselling collection including satin slip dresses and elegant lace hems.
Elise X Elisia
While the week was focused mostly on bridal couture, the honeymoon should never slip from consideration. Swimwear brand Elise X Elisia launched a brand new swim line, perfect for any tropical bride’s packing. Showing seductive silhouettes in whimsical printed swimwear, two of the models struck a pose next to a rack of the newest collection. The collection innovates the swimwear space by using the same pink and orange based print in each style but changing the silhouette so that the wearers and customers can accessorize their favorite textile pattern in many different ways. Founder Janel aimed to inspire young entrepreneurs in the fabulous room of the famed SoHo house by giving a panel talking about her brand building experience and answering questions from emerging designers and future business moguls.
Parched high above midtown in the chic Edison hotel, Sareh Nouri wowed with her latest collection. The theme of the looks was timeless glamour. Known for eye-catching ball gowns, and flawless draped skirts, Nouri had viewers dreaming with her editorial bridal looks. Whether it was sculpted Italian Mikado trains, taffeta draped hems, or giant demure bows, Nouri clearly knows her brides. One unique feature about purchasing a Sareh Nouri gown is the option of having your gown altered at the atelier where the gown was conceived. While the entire presentation was a feast of taffeta, Mikado, hand beaded lace, and tulle caplets, the grand finale was surprisingly not a white dress. The tiered pleated tulle in faint blue/grey was enough to drop jaws. As if ripped right off the cover of a magazine, this dramatic gown with matching pleated capelet stole the show. While the dress spoke for itself, the team managed to inform “it can be ordered in white”.
Eve of Milady
Every bride deserves a moment to feel like royalty. No brand represents this concept better than Eve of Milady. The bridal gowns, complete for over 400 hours each of custom beading absolutely sparkle in the light. Every dress, one after the other is a work of fine art and excellence in hand craft. From beaded straps, to puff sleeve bolero capes, to intricately crafted lattice bodices, and lace inset hems, no stone goes unturned in Eve of Milady’s Spring/Summer collection. Each dress lights up the room as much as the last. Draped and conceptualized in New Jersey and painstakingly beaded in India, these dresses are a true vision and command the attention that the Bride deserves. The general consensus among the models was very clear, they all felt beautiful in each and every dress.
Nadia Manjarrez has an updated fresh take on bridal fashion. She designs with more youthful silhouettes, incorporating more updated fabrics, shorter hem lines, and more jovial beaded patterns. Another amazing part of Manjarrez’s collections in her use of texture in her gowns. Some highlights from the collection is a detachable skirt dress that a bride can step out of for a shorter party option, and a lilac tiered embroidered taffeta gown that certainly stole the show!
In collaboration with Dress Hunt, a pop-up for brides to find the perfect dress from a variety of designers, Houghton by Katharine Polk presented their latest collection on the ground floor. The collection was a symphony of 80’s and 90’s style dresses complete with puffy sleeves, heart shaped D-rings, ruching, and exposed boning corsets. While the gowns in their conception did a majority of the talking, the styling and netting fascinators only added to the vintage feel. Against an industrial grey tarp, boxes and wooden stools, these gowns truly popped and further drove home the idea of an edgy bride.
Sachin & Babi
No one does a bridal moment quite like the iconic duo Sachin and Babi. Sachin and Babi were one of the only designers this year to go with a traditional runway show. This show was hosted by none other than former fashion director of Nieman Marcus and chief officer at Hearst Media, Ken Downing. Downing elegantly narrated each look as they preceded down the runway, adding fun tidbits and the occasional comical take. Sachin and Babi had it all, from traditional brides in chiffon capes, to bridesmaids gowns, mother of the bride frocks, and even bohemian bridal looks consisting of beaded sweaters and wide brim hats. While the overarching color story of the collection was traditional white, it was always refreshing to see hints of rich maroon, blues, and soft champing in those complimenting the bride in her bridal party. Sachin and Babi took a triumphant bow as Ken Downing proclaimed that everyone will feel beautiful at this wedding procession!
Israeli designer, Dana Harel has waited over two years to return to bridal fashion week, and boy, did she make her comeback. Located on the 20th floor of the iconic Plaza Hotel, Harel showed her latest collections in a glamourous intimate setting. Her work exemplified fine couture with tons of hand beaded silk, finely fit corseting, and the most intricate attention to details. It was relayed to the audience of prominent bridal buyers that the collection was inspired by “the fluidity of water” with rich fabrics and flowing beads to emulate the look of almost liquid bridal gowns. The collection featured silhouettes that hugged the body adorned with the finest crystals and lace all strategically placed with hours of consideration and labor. Most of the dresses were presented without lining to show the models gorgeous skin underneath but the designer informed the crowd that a lining of any shade can be placed within.
Located in the One Fine Day bridal market on 10th avenue, boldly displaced by the window is the fabulous Rebecca Schoneveld. This Westchester based designer crafts the dresses of bride’s dreams while keeping in mind luxury and affordability. Schoneveld’s designs included long, full trains and meticulously draped tulle and lace. She has several different lines providing glamour and the ideal fantasy wedding moment to brides with all different budgets. Her line was all inclusive and allowed brides to feel beautiful with effortless opulence. Both of the models looked absolutely stunning in each of the designs that they presented, proving that the dresses flatter each and every individual.
In a room full of white gowns, Shelia Frank stands out with an unconventional approach to bridal. The booth at One Fine Day, spoke for itself with a model wearing a floor length cutout gown adorned with printed flowers. This floral print was a staple for Shelia’s latest collection with a beautifully adored look book video to go along with each garment. The main overarching theme of the Shelia Frank customer is centered on a culture of sustainability, as well as size and gender inclusivity. Vintage silhouettes and overcoats with beautiful antique buttons were also a standout in the collection. Shelia Frank bridal was also riding on the success of dressing Chrissy Metz for Elton John’s Oscars party.
Sophie Et Voila
Based out of Spain, Sophie Et Voila designed for the effortless beauty bride. Silhouettes were elegantly draped in fine Italian silks to get any bride dreaming of saying “I do” in a lavish garden. While most of the bodies of the gowns were understated, the brand chooses to place the fine details in all the embellishments, silk organza sleeves, and beaded bodices. It is also very apparent that Sophie Et Voila knows their bride very well, as they keep their understandably bestselling bridal gowns front and center during their presentations. The eye for design is very keen throughout the entire collection as almost none of the dresses were restrictive or corseted, rather flowing uninterrupted from shoulder to hem. The standout from the Sophie Et Voila collection was a white tweed bridal coat complete with pockets layered on top of a chiffon skirt for the ideal winter wedding. I was also shown that this bridal gown morphs to become the perfect red carpet look when cut in a different color.
Finally the iconic Berta bridal wowed with not one… but three separate collections to close out bridal week. The runway presentation in their showroom began with their couture collection. Featuring thousands of beads, flowers, and never-ending yards of tulle, these gowns are truly jaw dropping. Berta is a master of creating gowns that display a bride’s body and ooze sensuality. Most of the dresses were flawlessly corseted with very little lining showing the models flawless figures. The choices in fabrics absolutely sparkle under the lights and the fabric and dramatic trains flowed within interrupting a single stride from the models. The privee and collection lines were just as fabulous and luxurious as the couture collection. One unexpected aspect of the designs were the use of godets which many times can look dated, but in Berta’s collection looked fresh and demure in every look. The sparkle and shine of each fabric allowed every bride to glow as she posed for the cameras at the end of the runway. At the conclusion of the show, the models posed together, looking like the most fabulous supermodel brides in their intricate, sexy Berta masterpieces.
This year’s bridal week was a celebration of the love that is yet to come in the upcoming Spring/Summer 2023 wedding season. One thing was certain: every bride has their special dress out there. Each designer had their own fabulous interpretation of what a bridal gown means to them. While one color (white) has always prevailed, it is so refreshing to see so many talented people turn this pure concept into the dress of a bride’s dreams!