Only an established designer like Vera Wang would have the chutzpah to include a charcoal-colored ballgown embellished with lemony gold and silver crystal embroidery in her bridal collection. And only in Vera's skilled hands could such a creation turn out to be a masterpiece (instead of a hot mess). It's the kind of gown any fashion editor would love to shoot, perhaps on a gray, misty day on some craggy cliff for added drama, or maybe, just maybe, in a forest somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, where the trees are huge, dark, and glisten after it rains. If only Brides Local Magazines came out more than twice a year, and if only we had a Vanity Fair-sized budget! But the point is, every season, there are a few wedding dresses that literally inspire editors, conjuring up story concepts that never would have occurred to us otherwise. And while that spangled charcoal situation still has me planning a never-gonna-happen photo shoot partially inspired by Daphne Dumaurier's Rebecca, certainly there were plenty of potential "muses" on offer at her presentation on Thursday—and they're coming soon to a fashion well near you.
As for Vera's angle, her newest collection of wedding gowns "represents a study in volumes and draping," and she proved her point with several examples. Horsehair had a starring role as a powerful volume-creating vehicle, with swoops and loops and tufts of it billowing on skirts or cascading from trains. (Designers like Marchesa and Monique Lhuillier also relied on horsehair to "fatten up" their wedding gowns' flounces and tiers; the unconventional fabric also provides a lovely shimmer effect.) And while the "Chelsea Clinton" look—multi-layered tulle ballgown with a bejeweled ribbon sash—was everywhere else at bridal market, Vera (who designed Chelsea's gown) didn't go there. Instead, she focused on innovative fabric treatments that defy technical fashion terms. We'll put them under the pleating/draping umbrella—accordion-like "sunburst" fans, sculptural "chrysanthemum"-shaped spirals of organza, and crisp, Japanese lantern-like folds that reminded us of those collapsible paper party decorations.
These are the kinds of details that make editors giddy, and will always keep high-fashion brides coming back for more, even as the rest of the world anxiously awaits Vera's latest endeavor: a (presumably way watered-down—but who cares?) collection for David's Bridal. —Amy Elliott
See all of our New York Bridal Fashion Week Coverage here.