Come fall wedding dresses will be all about the details. From color, sheer skirts and feathery accents to illusion bodices and floral details, brides will be wearing intricate works of art.
But even amid such finery, emphasizing femininity will continue to be key for designers and brides, said Mia Antalics, owner of Garnish, a bridal boutique in Ruxton Station.
"Sex appeal is part of bridal," said Antalics. "A woman doesn't get to wear gowns like this every day. She can show curves that she wouldn't regularly wear. I'm open to all of it … from the plunging fronts or backs to the close silhouettes of the crepe fabric and colors, I love it."
Betsy Robinson, owner of Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection in Pikesville, described the coming fall offerings as beautiful and feminine.
"The dresses were very pretty this season," said Robinson, who, like Antalics, recently visited New York City for International Bridal Fashion Week, where they purchased dresses that they will sell this fall. Other local bridal boutique owners have followed bridal shows in Europe and Asia to add international flair to their offerings.
Look for these trends in bridal fashion:
White remains quite popular but color is making a breakthrough. Antalics loved all the color that designers used throughout their collections, especially traditional silhouettes reimagined in modern hues.
"Seeing designers bring in color is a great way to complete their collection," she said. "You see an assortment of lace, beaded details and texture. When they incorporate color, it is a happy medium of all those things. It is a nice way to balance everything out."
Antalics particularly liked Romona Keveza, who peppers her collection with soft blush and lilac. She also liked dresses with gold and amber undertones offered by Amsale. Antalics plans to carry a new line by Ivy & Aster that showcases dresses with peach organza and gold metallic threads.
"There was a lot of range," she said about the collections.
Feathers are popular among top designers such as Zac Posen, Jenny Packham and Carolina Herrera. Francesca Ripple, owner of Francesca's Bridal Salon in Overlea, also saw plenty of feathers from two of the designers she carries — Yumi Katsura and Badgley Mischka. However, Ripple thinks that this trend won't catch on among her customers.
"I don't think a lot of girls are going to want feathers plucked from birds," she said. "They are conscious where the feathers come from."
The trend first popularized this year by actress Lupita Nyong'o in her Calvin Klein pearl-encrusted dress at the Oscars has crept into the bridal market.
Eugenia Couture, a brand based in Bethlehem, Pa., features pearls on the sleeve and bodice of the dress. Katsura shows a lot of pearl embellishments on her dresses. And Orabella, an Israeli fashion house, also has "amazing dresses — all in pearls," Ripple said.
Ripple said pearls also surfaced in the form of belt treatments.
"It does seem that pearls are having a comeback," she said. "I'm very much in favor of that. I think that if pearls are done tastefully and in the right size, that will stay."
Designers Hayley Paige, Reem Acra, Theia and Monique Lhuillier feature daring drops along the neckline that are softened by mesh fabrics and strategically placed appliques.
Antalics said she was happy to see an emphasis on plunging necklines and illusion bodices. She also liked the concept of placing appliques and embellishments along the front of the dress.
"It's allowing the brides' details to be front and center as opposed to the back," she said. "The detailing is amazing. They're using encrusted stone, lace and floral appliques along the necklines. I think it's beautiful."
Sheer is not only featured along the bodice and neckline. Designers are adorning their skirts with see-through fabrics. Rivini, Herrera, Oscar de la Renta and Lhuillier all have dresses with barely-there material.
"Carolina Herrera had the prettiest collection I've seen," said Robinson. "She did beautiful things with sheer."
Designer Romona Keveza also did an excellent job of incorporating sheer skirts. "She had a couple beautiful dresses in sheer organza with touches of color," Robinson said. "One had this very subtle cherry blossom print."
Robinson was also impressed by the use of soft English/French tulle — a look that many designers showcase. "Watters did the best with that," she said. "They've been doing that for a couple of years. They have that soft look."
While she loved the look, Robinson warned about it looking too sexy. "There's a fine line between a pretty wedding dress and it looking too lingerie," she said.
Almost every designer features some form of floral accent, in the form of print, lace overlays, appliques or laser-cut details.
Last year, designers featured much of the floral details along the back of the dresses and along the skirt. This year, floral details are placed on the front of the garments and along the bodice, which caught the attention of Antalics.
"I was like, 'Whoa,'" Antalics said. "I remember seeing a lot of that and thinking that is cool. I think they are bringing the detail more front and center. Now you're seeing it from both sides."
The fabric is popular among designers such as Theia, James Clifford, Rivini and Badgley Mischka.
"It's my favorite fabrication," said Ripple, who added that the fabric has been used by many Israeli designers for years. "There's a good weight to it. And it just lays on the body. It stretches really well. And it shows a girl's figure."
Antalics like the way Theia uses crepe. "Their gowns were more fit to the body," she said.
The standard material in bridal has been updated with new uses and placement.
"I thought lace was going to die, but it really hasn't," said Robinson. "There are some beautiful lace patterns. And designers are layering it to give it more of a three-dimensional feel."
Robinson said that even though lace is traditional, the new placements and uses are giving it a contemporary feel.
"It's still very strong," she said. "It's gotten very sexy. Designers are using it with no lining."