Photos: Jimi Celeste
Our expectations were high: First we learned that this season's Rivini show would be held at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, then we received the invitation—elegant, letterpress-printed, with a monogrammed chair motif (that may or may not be a reference to the Toronto-based label's longtime practice of seating the buyers and press who attend their presentations in transparent Louis Ghost chairs)—with the particulars, including instructions to rsvp to Atelier Creative Services. The Atelier team knows their way around a fashion runway, so their involvement in Rivini's latest offering indicated that designer Rita Vinieris was stepping up her game. Which makes perfect sense—gowns of this caliber (and at prices of this magnitude) deserve a presentation with high-production values. Not that the Rivini's previous bridal market stomping grounds, a penthouse suite in the Flatotel, was ever déclassé. It's just that when the run-of-show notes explain that the designer was inspired by something as lofty as Monet's gardens at Giverny, the claim is much more convincing to an editor in the context of a legitimate fashion "event" (read: a proper runway show). Intimate, informal showings may sometimes be a necessity in this economic climate, but they're anathema to any designer who hopes to break away from the pack. And based on what we saw Saturday, I'd say Rita successfully got her point across: that she's an accomplished couturière who can more than keep pace with the bigger, more familiar names in bridal fashion.
From my seat (a Louis Ghost chair, natch) on the Alvin Ailey theater's stage, I would have appreciated a slower pace, to really take in the craftsmanship, insanely luxurious fabrics, and hand-finishing that distinguish Rivni gowns (and account for their high price point). Still, a few "flowers" caught my attention: There were plentiful literal interpretations, like the first look to walk down, a flirty, doll-sized number in which the skirt itself was an oversized blossom made of voile organza; the sheer abundance of floral-patterned French lace, and necklaces of handmade silk roses and camellias also reinforced the theme. The more oblique references to Monet's garden were more fashion-forward, and had an organic feel—Sasha's single shoulder strap has a sculptural shape reminiscent of a white iris, and several dress bodices featured intricate, asymmetrical pleating that seemed inspired by the texture and configuration of veins on a rose petal. —Amy Elliott
Click here to view the full Rivini wedding dress collection.