Runway photos: John Aquino
In a recent wedding style story, we appointed designer Claire Pettibone "the unofficial gown designer of the nouveau-fairy dress style," and this was before we saw her most recent runway show. It's official now—and not just because we were greeted by winged "hostess fairies" in mini dresses adorned with roses and leaves, or urged to sample cocktails made with Lucid absinthe (not appealing, but the "green fairy" allusion was duly noted).
The designer's "Spirit of the Night" collection, offset by a backdrop inspired by The Fairy Circus, a picture book from the 1930s (and, I thought, Midsummer Eve, the famous painting by Edward Robert Hughes), was a lavish celebration of the fairy aesthetic artfully filtered through a bridal lens. There was plenty of shimmer (how could there not be?) and beading, which Claire always uses in a thoughtful, deliberate way. To mimic dewdrops, a handful of crystals glistened on bolero made of gray, pink and cream roses, while Dragonfly flickered like a fairy disco ball, thanks to thousands of rainbow-colored sequins. Several gowns were embroidered with landscapes depicting wheat stalks, dandelions, and camellias paired with gold lace or gray velvet leaves. Moon Shadow seemed to reference multi-colored lichen on a tree trunk or the inside of sliced-open geode, while the illusion sleeves on Arwen (she's technically an elf, but nevermind) morphed into long, fluttering tulle cuffs that extended well past the fingertips—gossamer and wing-like, but not like something you'd find at a costume shop. In this collection, Claire succeeded in creating a style icon that is ethereal, light, and mysterious, borne of the magical, beautiful images that exist in nature (not Disney cartoons). Even if they don't yet know it, romantic brides are ready for a new muse beyond storybook princesses and Jane Austen heroines, and the "nouveau fairy" is it (though, in real life, I would recommend losing the faux green eyelashes). —Amy Elliott