Brides of a different hue
Upbeat and outside the box, a colored gown's the trend
Tucked among a wall full of bridal gowns secured in protective plastic, an ice-blue gown looks as though a prom dress was accidentally tossed into the display. A few dresses down the line, another dress with deep mocha satin under its off-white lace bodice peeks from amid dozens of traditional wedding gowns at Nouvelle Bridal Boutique in Palo Alto.
These gowns aren't in the bridal gown store's selection by accident. They're just two examples of a popular trend in modern bridal gown design: colored gowns.
Brides used to be overwhelmed by a never-ending selection of white and off-white gowns; but now they have color as another option to select from.
The trend has been becoming more popular over the past two years, bridal gown professionals say. Popular colors, including champagne, mocha, pale blue and pink or flush are making their way down the aisle.
White isn't entirely out; tradition still holds sway, but with a twist. While the entire dress will still usually be white, off-white or ivory verging on a light-champagne, it's now common to see sashes and embroidery in colors as bright as teal blue or deep pink and purple.
In business as a local dress designer since 1982, Elaine Goldman of Elaine's of Palo Alto has seen her fair share of bridal gown trends throughout the years. A few years ago, she saw entire wedding parties in white, from the bridesmaids dresses to the roses. Now her designs often include a splash of color, she said.
Holding up muslin for a dress she is making for an upcoming wedding, she displays a photo of the original Vera Wang dress, which she is using as a base inspiration for the design. Unlike the photo of the pure white-on-white Vera Wang gown, Goldman is using a light mocha, satin crepe as a slip under white lace. The bride brought the fabric from abroad, she said.
"The light mocha is a very nice counterpoint to the lace. It's very pretty," said Goldman, who is excited about using colors in her designs. "I think it's fabulous, upbeat, optimistic and a little out of the box. It's not completely traditional. Some brides will go with everything white, which is elegant, I guess. But I don't think it's exciting."
"Sometimes we have blue wedding gowns. ... They come in colors in white and ivory mixed with champagne or mocha colors," said Ayda Mourdian of Nouvelle Bridal Boutique. "In the past couple of seasons, the colors were mixed with champagne-brown. They mix the whole sash and details. It's very pretty, actually. Very elegant. I doubt the trend will last; people always tend to go traditional, which is white and ivory."
The tradition for white bridal gowns in Western culture has been around for decades, but it was not always the only color to be married in. The white gown trend began in 1840 in Victorian Britain, when Queen Victoria got married in a white gown and spawned a sea of girls wanting to display their wealth by wearing an expensive, extravagant white gown that could be worn only once in a lifetime, according to bridal historians.
Few brides of today choose a white wedding dress solely to display wealth, as white dresses are common and often comparatively affordable; dresses with color details are often equally, if not more expensive.
"I've noticed a lot of traditional ball gowns with a fuller skirt, in white. I think it's because in some ways it's a dream gown. It's the one you can wear only at this time, so you'll never be able to do something like that again. Budget can be a part of your decision. When you get something more unique, you tend to spend a little more," said upcoming bride Delora Lee, shopping for the perfect gown at The Unique Bride in Burlingame.
"The whole bridal business has become such a huge business; and for the whole couture, high-end segment, while there are a lot of people interested in it, it's all about what the bride can do with her resources," she said.
Lee is interested in the popular styles that reference a vintage or antique design. "For a lot of my friends who have gotten married, it's about finding the right gown. I'm not locked into the box as far as what dress I will eventually end up with," she said, eyeing an off-white gown with a small, rhinestone floral ornamentation on the waist.
A sea of traditional white and off-white bridal gowns fill the bridal gown showroom at The Unique Bride. Look closely, and an inch-wide sage-green sash might catch one's eye. After careful inspection, gowns in flush or sherbet, display a hint of a pinkish-orange when the light hits the fabric. Designers like Lazaro and Jenny Lee are designing dresses in this popular hint of sherbet and blush-pink hue. Some dresses have subtle colored-detailing. A dress by Rivini has pink and silver floral embroidery on the top of its bodice.
Bridal consultant Julie Johnson of The Unique Bride has also seen many brides request colored sashes to compliment their white dresses. She displays a row of sashes in pink, teal and green by Monique Lhuillier, whose designs all of the celebrities are wearing, she said. "Most of the girls who come in are very fashion-savvy and they're really following all of the celebrity trends," Johnson added.
The Unique Bride carries the dress musician Pink wore to her wedding, a two-piece gown with a lace skirt and a black sash across the mid-section. They also carry a dress in "latte" worn by Kevin Costner's wife in his recent wedding, according to Johnson.
While the trend is reflected in the merchandise selection at almost every bridal store in the area, not all fashion-conscious brides are enthusiastic about their less-traditional options.
"I like the champagne, the off-white and neutral colors. I've seen gowns in bright teals and pink by Reemacra, and that's not for me. My gown is going to be white or creme, definitely," said Christina Dicks, a bride-to-be seeking her perfect gown. "I think that (color in wedding gowns) is a trend and 10 years down the road, I'd shoot myself in the foot if I ended up wearing it."