Published 3:30 pm Thursday, December 31, 2015
Local wedding gown trends reflect national styles
By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer
Many women dream about the moment they will try on a wedding dress and know it’s the one they want to wear when they meet their groom at the altar.
But not all brides-to-be know exactly what style of dress they want without researching current trends and knowing what types of gowns and style options are available.
Colleen Hopwood, owner of Bella Couture in Mt Laurel, sees thousands of wedding gowns and keeps track of the trends that dominate the bridal market each year.
Hopwood examined several local and national trends for the 2016 season.
One of the ongoing trends in the Birmingham area is the bohemian, or “boho,” chic look, Hopwood said.
“It’s been around for a while,” Hopwood said.
The boho chic style features flowing gowns with minimal or no beading, floral or organic lace and short trains (or no trains), perfect for barn weddings and paired with flower wreaths for the hair and asymmetrical bouquets.
Hopwood said most brides want strapless, V-neck or sweetheart necklines.
Gowns with low or plunging backs are popular, Hopwood said, and lace fit-and-flare gowns are an “across the board” trend.
Designer Justin Alexander’s 2016 collection includes lace fit-and-flare gowns and gowns with beading, she said.
Regarding color, national trends show blush pinks, nude and sand colors topping the list, along with ivory and off-white shades.
Local trends are following suit, according to Hopwood.
“We don’t sell any truly white dresses any more,” Hopwood said.
The No. 1 national trend this season was bateau necklines, which are similar to boat necks, creating a “simple and elegant, Audrey Hepburn look,” Hopwood said.
Another national trend Hopwood saw at Fashion Week in New York City this year was floral prints.
Lazaro, one of the designers Hopwood carries at her shop, finished his collection with a floral-print gown.
“You kind of have to have a bold personality to wear a print,” Hopwood said. “It’s very non-traditional.”
Prints and heavy brocades were common wedding attire in the Middle Ages and 1900s, she said, noting brides didn’t wear white.
“It’s almost like the industry is stepping back in time (with) heavy vintage and Victorian inspiration,” she said.
Bell sleeves and high necklines with Mandarin or choker-style collars have entered the market.
Another trend among brides, nationally and locally, is a gown that can be transformed into two looks: One for the ceremony and one for the reception.
Overskirts can be layered over short or slim gowns to create a ball gown or A-line gown, and then removed for a lighter, more stylish look.
Jackets are another trendy way to have two wedding looks without buying two dresses, Hopwood said.
Although Hopwood hasn’t added any to her inventory yet, pantsuits for brides entered the national market a couple of years ago.
“That’s a trend I’m not so sure is going to trickle down,” she said.
Fabrics and materials play a significant role in wedding gowns.
Organza is making a comeback, while tulle is waning a bit, according to Hopwood.
“A lot of designers are doing English net, also known as “feaux silk,” which is a finer weave than tulle,” she said.
Tattoo lace and lace-layering to give a dress dimension are popular.
“The layering has been around for a few years,” Hopwood said. “Enzoani started doing lace layers a few years ago.”
A local trend Hopwood still sees brides gravitate toward is a layered, “fun” hemline with ruffles, tiers or other features of interest.
Feathers can also be found on some of today’s gowns.
“Most designers use ostrich or swan feathers,” Hopwood said. “They are definitely a one-time wear kind of thing. Feathers really do get into the couture realm.
Regardless of national and local trends, Hopwood emphasized the importance of brides choosing gowns that fit their individual preferences.
“It really boils down to what the bride wants and what makes her feel comfortable and what makes her feel beautiful on the day of her wedding,” Hopwood said.