Brides-to-be this spring can get ready for plunging necklines, crop tops, cutouts, customized options, colorful dresses and gowns inspired by the hit movie "Frozen."
The aisle has never looked so daring and diverse, say local boutique owners who recently attended Bridal Fashion Week in New York City.
"I'm excited for our brides to see the new fabrics and textures on classic silhouettes," said Mia Antalics, owner of Garnish Boutique in Ruxton Station. "I think that people are really going out of the box now."
Francesca Ripple, owner of Francesca's Bridal Salon in Nottingham, was most impressed with the custom options available to brides.
"We are looking to show brides how they can personalize their dresses," she said. "The girl can now put her dress together."
Influences from the hit animated film "Frozen" have crept over into the bridal fashion world. Alfred Angelo led the way when he teamed with Disney for an entire collection inspired by the movie.
Don O'Neill, head designer for Theia, a brand that specializes in evening wear, was inspired by the frozen tundras of Mongolia for his collection. His wintry princess dresses featured heavy Venice lace, crystal and sequin-beaded fringe and fur shoulder wraps.
Other designers also opted for a princess-y approach this year. Full, airy ball gowns stuffed with horsehair fabric and organza skirts were commonplace in a number of collections, according to boutique owners.
"I find a lot of our customers are asking for ball gowns again. They are saying that they want to look like a princess," Ripple said. "We didn't see that for a couple of seasons. Now it's back."
Antalics has also seen the fairy-tale demands spurred by the movie. "I have a lot of girls coming in using the words 'princess' more than I've ever seen," she said. "They really want to feel like a princess. They want bodices and embellishments."
Crop tops, cutout gowns
Designers also got more daring this season with exposed midriffs and sides. Antalics noticed faux crop tops at bridal couture brand Jim Hjelm and Theia, which she said best fit her customers.
"I think the faux option is a great transition to mainstream. It's more saleable," she said.
Ripple was skeptical of the skin-baring trend."I don't think girls in Baltimore are ready for it," she said.
Ripple picked up a new French line, Pas De Deux bridal, that offered a number of two-piece wedding dresses — some that didn't expose the midriff but still featured the crop top.
"I had a lot of brides interested in two-pieces and separates," she said. "We have had requests for separates and pants. I went looking for those."
Taking the plunge
Designers also took a sparse approach to necklines and backs — with plunging looks for both. The deep V-necks and backs were particularly evident at collections presented by Watters, Kenneth Pool and Rivini.
Some designers simply featured a sheer layer of material over the exposed skin to create the illusion of bare skin. Others placed lace over "appropriate places" to create a more modest look, Robinson said.
"The big thing right now are these beautiful illusion backs and bodices," Robinson said. "Low illusion backs are really hot right now."
Colors and patterns
Designer Monique Lhuillier led the color charge with a number of blush, blue, purple, champagne and other nonwhite gowns throughout her collection. Watters, Theia and Austin Scarlett also sprinkled their collections with color.
"I saw a lot of blush and peach," Antalics said. "Blues are also coming in."
Lulakate, a line Antalics carries in her boutique, offered a gown reminiscent of watercolors.
While the trend might be for bold, brash colors, Antalics said her customers will take a more subtle approach. "They stick to the neutrals: blush, peach, skin undertones," she said.
Ripple said she saw a lot of colors and patterns, but one dress — byHjelm — stood out.
"It looked hand-painted, but it's like a print," she said. "The diamond white print on top of the diamond white fabric had a sheen. It almost looked like a paintbrush effect had gone over the fabric. It was very beautiful."
Hjelm also showed a gown that featured a rose drawn on top of a tulle skirt. The dress was finished with "gorgeous white sequin," Ripple said.
Robinson said the "prettiest" colorful gown came from designer Austin Scarlett, a "Project Runway" alumnus. .
"It was a green-colored ball gown," she said. "Its inspiration came from 'Gone with the Wind.' "
Call it the "Downton Abbey" effect. Or maybe it's left over from the wedding of William and Kate. Whatever it is, sleeves — in everything from lace to sparkles — were popular across the board.
Watters had one of the most unusual ways to feature the trend by using sleeve-length fingerless sparkling gloves to complete the look of several dresses.
Antalics was impressed with the number of detachable sleeves she saw.
"Many of the designers we carry did different variations on that — different lengths and options," she said. "People can use them for different moments of their event."
While Ripple saw an abundance of sleeves, she said the trend might not translate to the Baltimore market. "It's not as popular with our girls," she said.
Still, Ripple offered advice on how to properly incorporate sleeves into a wedding dress.
"If it's long sleeve, it has to be done in a very fine Chantilly lace," she said. "The neckline has to be sexy. You can't be covered up."
For its finale dress, bridal desiner Amsale featured an unexpected mesh shoulder wrap. Badgley Mischka used sparkly mesh headpieces that were hauntingly pretty. And Hayley Paige was arguably the most daring of designers when she incorporated studs and leather into her bridal collection.
"It's new and a new approach to bridal," Antalics said about Paige. "She used new fabrications for the bridal market."
Ripple noted that Hjelm featured a short dress with a feather coat.