Archive | bridal RSS feed for this section

Bridal Day – The Fall 2012 Bridal Trends

19 Oct

Bridal has never been our favorite market to cover but because that’s the case, we view it as a “bring it on” type of challenge. It IS harder to write about something you’re not madly in love with, but here’s a market that continues to thrive despite the prolonged economic downturn. That in itself, sparked our interest and was responsible for our devoting our Sunday to covering the lastest NY Bridal Week.

Here is our Round-up of the fall 2012 Couture and bridal collections we saw on Sunday, October 16.

Text, Vivian Kelly & Laura Wood

9:00a.m. Ines di Santo

This one was a close call – a race-walk from the Cornell Club on East 44th Street to the Jeremiah Essex House, on West 59th Street, across Central Park.

I’d just plopped down on the gilt salon chair when the lights went down and smiling models hit the catwalk in white confections and a lot more beading and sequins than I remembered seeing two years ago [my most recent bridal show].

What seemed clear by the end of the show was that strapless is still the #1 neckline and that bodices are lean [almost tubular] and extend down to the hip. The effect is slimming and flattering – thumbs up on this one. It looked good, regardless if the skirt portion was a  bias cut skirt, or of a pouffy ballgown one.

The show opened with  a pale pink gown, which is a pretty alternative to the bright white gowns that start looking awfully similar after my 4th show that day.

Later in the lineup, there was a one shoulder gown with beautiful draping the Fashion List writers and I both liked because it was so minimalist. Its  only ornamentation was the draping;  not a bead or sequin in sight. Another interesting piece was a sheer tulle capelet which had a nostalgic Fifties’ feeling to it. Despite being liberally sprinkled with Swarovski crystals, it didn’t look overdone or weighed down.

The dress that most closely matched the RTW trends was “Lissome”, a retro Alencon lace dress which had Grace Kelly written all over it. The last few looks played with the concept of transparent bodices, which are probably too daring for the 1st time bride who tends to favor a more demure fairy tale princess look.

After lunch, Laura joined me and we met up with The Fashion List’s Scott French and PaulaRosine Long [a fellow Duke alumn!].

2:00p.m. Rita Vinieris, RIVINI Bridal Show

“Understated elegance” summarized the first segment of the show. True, there were sequins aplenty but these pastel colored evening gowns that opened the show had a very Thirties Hollywood glamour feeling about them.

The looks that followed were strictly bridal.  We concluded that a big skirt and strapless bodice continue to be the most popular choice with brides to be, but there were also some options like a 3/4 off the shoulder sleeve and a tastefully executed 1 shoulder gown for variety.

In the accessory department, there were tiny diamond tiaras and colored waist sashes to give the bride a wasp waist. Our favorite design was the goddess gown in silk chiffon with a plunging neck line and tasteful beaded accents at the top of the straps.

Post show, we spoke backstage with Rita and she told us that the first “Hollywood Glamour” gowns we loved were actually the debut of her new eveningwear line. She confirmed that yes, she was indeed inspired by Thirties Hollywood Glamour.

We left the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio, happy to see  sophisticated designs coming from a bridal designer.

3:00p.m. -Badgley Mischka, Pier 94

After the initial distraction of a tulle head piece which covered the models’ faces, we got down to examining the clothes. The big difference with what we’d seen so far was a very fitted silhouette especially through the bodice and hardly any strapless gowns in the collection.There was a drape front neckline, a sleeveless gown with a square neckline, and a gold v front evening gown with marabou at the shoulders and a fitted bondage ?! style gown.  Both were shown in a pretty tea stain color, rather than the usual blinding white. There was also a  v front flared gown with fawn flowers embroidered on the sheer outer layer. This design duo rose to fame in the nineties and are known for their skillful beading and embroidery which is always tasteful and never heavyhanded. This last gown was probably the most representative of their work in the RTW market.

4:00p.m. – Anne Bowen

We jumped into this show, not really thinking we’d make it to the Gansevoort ParkAvenue Penthouse Bar space, but we managed to catch the show midstream. We were SO glad we forged ahead, despite the lack of taxis, buses or subways.

Face it there’s no good way other than a private car to make it from the Piers to Park Ave. Once settled in though, we had an attitude adjustment, which began when Laura accepted the champagne flute served with 3 fresh blueberries and what appeared to be a mini orchid. We didn’t need the champagne incentive however, to be immediately impressed with what we saw. The Jean Harlow dress has become commonplace, but this is the best version we’ve seen yet. The Black model looked regal in “Amaryllis” a bias chiffon cut flutter sleeve gown. It’s not exactly Harlow, but it is Harlow inspired. The other big stunner was “Trinity”, hands-down the best use of beading we saw all day. Making with our “Queenly” theme, this one immediately made Laura think of Cleopatra. The next day, after reviewing all of the shots we got, thanks to excellent seats, we were in complete agreement that Anne Bowen was the best collection of the day, no question.

5:00p.m. – Anna Maier – Ulla Maija Bridal Show

Here was the Jean Harlow dress again, but it looked great here too, in shiny satin as opposed to chiffon at Anne Bowen. There was also a streamlined satin strap gown with a bias skirt and Swarovski crystal straps. It was our favorite, and it also  happened to be one of the least expensive gowns on the line. Go figure.  

6:00p.m. – Sarah Jassir

Hurrah! A pantsuit! The model who kicked off the show could have been YSL muse Betty Catroux, vogueing Yves’ slinky suits. As per Wikipedia, “Catroux is famed for her long white-blonde hair, lanky body, gaunt features, and androgynous appearance. Catroux and Saint Laurent met, according to her, in a “very, very gay” nightclub in Paris, Regine’s in the 1960s and have had a friendly relationship ever since.”

Okay, that’s one option. Taking it in an entirely different direction,  if you’re more the Katherine Hepburn sort of woman who’s an equestrian, you’d probably prefer the palazzo pants which has us all nodding in approval.

If you’re bent on walking down the aisle in a gown, this designer offered a train, affixed with a low riding bow as well as dresses with some interesting gold handpainting. We only wish there had been more pant options as there are plenty of horsey women who just don’t wear skirts or big dresses, for that matter, ever.

7:00 p.m. – Simone Carvalli

This was our last collection of the evening and the Asia Society on Park and 70th was a beautiful spot to end it. After an elegant cocktail party downstairs, we were whooshed upstairs for the show. The highlight of the show was when “Trisha” came down the runway. It incorporated the RTW lace trend and a pleasing minimalism. It’s a practical gown as well, thanks to a sweetheart neckline and the black satin belt adorned with a big Swarovski brooch that gave the curvy model a wasp waist. Speaking of a slim waist, we noticed that the models were a bit more full figured than the ones we’d seen at Anne Bowen, Badgley Mischka, etc. After flipping through the program notes, we realized why.

The Company’s VP of Sales, Terry Brumley said, “Our unique construction and patent pending ‘Magic Fit’ that reduces between two to four inches off a bride’s waist, miraculously gives our brides a coveted hour-glass figure.”

The fit angle aside, the other notable detail was the designer’s liberal use of feathers, most notably on a silk taffeta strapless drop waist gown with a skirt embellished with Ostrich feathers.

Honorable Mention – St. Pucchi

We didn’t make it to the press show the following day, but fortunately, I snapped a few pics of this beautiful bodice, while dashing out of the Jeremiah Essex House to my next show. 

Hair Trend Notes: a deep side part pulled into a loose chignon which looks natural and pretty. Last week, I saw a bride at my church in Greenwich, Christ Church, posing on the steps in exactly this same hair do. She looked beautiful and utterly unaffected. Genius!


Prom is the Bomb!

1 May

Text, Vivian Kelly

Twenty years ago, dressing as if it were one’s wedding day for one’s High School Prom was not even imaginable. Back then, prom was a rather SILLY EVENT WHERE IT WAS OKAY TO WEAR A LITTLE COCKTAIL DRESS that was probably purchased at a bridal boutique, and most likely an ugly shade of pink or teal.

Take the 1986 John Hughes classic, “Pretty in Pink”.

Remember? In it, ‘Andie’ slashes the beautiful vintage dress her alternative friend, Annie Potts, ‘Iona’ gives her and combines it with the ugly pink one Dad gifts her. The result = the most memorable prom dress ever. At the time, the reworked dress was unique and daring. Most girls, lamentably attended prom in candy confections like the pink creampuff Andie ripped-up.

The stakes for promwear have gone up, aided and abetted by such seminal events as the Wills-Kate wedding. The R.W. contributed to prom fever, but prom as pre-wedding has been a reality for quite a while.

A few weeks ago, I wandered into **VINTAGE!, an upscale vintage and consignment boutique in Bedford Hills, NY to find some sunglasses, and walked out in a state of shock, and the concept for this post.

The newsflash: Well-to-do private school girls were dropping a couple of $$thou on vintage Oscar de la Renta. Vintage! gets its clothes and accessories from Hollywood  – namely celebrities and film sets.  For prom? Was the owner joking?

Not at all. From January – June, Laura Herlihy, a former Oscar de la Renta staffer, is booked solid [sometimes even double-booked] Monday – Friday for “prom appointments”.  I dawdled, in hopes of witnessing the appointment, prolonging my debate between the rectangular blue D&Gs or the red ovals. [I left with the D&Gs but am returning for the reds as they’re right on trend now.]

The two girls arrived, on time, for their appointment.

Question: Since when do privileged American teens arrive on time for anything?

Answer: When it matters to them. Prom, I concluded, mattered.

Both girls sported short shorts, long starlet hair and bodies and designer handbags. They each needed 2 gowns for prom – 1 for the actual prom, the other for the after-party. Cocktail dresses were not an option. The jewelry seemed to be fairly understated, perhaps a pair of the Carolee* faux diamond clip-ons for that vintage Cartier-Old Hollywood look that’s so popular on the Red Carpet now. The shoes would be Red Carpet worthy: Louboutin, Manolos, or Choos.

Not everyone though, can spend on this level though.

A few days later – down South – Fifi’s  Designer Consignment Shop, Durham, NC.  Although prom is “huge” here too, the girls here wear cocktail dresses, according to the Manager.  My candidate and theirs’ – ***a champagne ombre BCBG cocktail dress with some sparkly paillette work on the front – no extra bling needed. This little dress reminded me of Hailee Steinfeld, in her Marchesa dress at the Oscars. The girl who wears the BCBG to her prom will look elegant but “her age”.

Last stop, The Fashion Exchange, in Newtown, CT, on the Northernmost reaches of Fairfield County. Here, the look was gowns as well, two on average, for the big night. The choices were less elevated, think BCBG rather than Oscar. The owner, Janet, emphasized the importance of “blingy accessories”. The case and wall next to the register was as dazzling as the Caribbean noontime sun. The most in demand pieces were hair ornaments to decorate updos, big cocktail rings and Harry Winston-like bracelets of faux ice. Although the F.E. is an upscale shop, a dress can run in a reasonable  $100 price range, topping out around $600.

One big resemblance with a first wedding, Janet notes, is that the Mother is often the more excited of the two. This was eerily similar to big first weddings, in which Mom typically takes over and inflates a “small wedding” to a huge spectacle with a cast of hundreds and a final price tag bordering on 6 figures.

Janet and I ended our conversation, talking about what else – the Royal Wedding. Kate, did it right, and used her long-time stylist James Pryce of the Richard Ward Salon, and allegedly did her own makeup.

She took it up a notch by applying makeup that was just a shade darker, for the biggest [at least, public] day of her life. How many girls do you know who would do that? Love it!

“She looked like herself,” said Janet. THAT girls, is the key. Fine to book an appointment with your favorite hair and makeup team, but if you don’t usually wear an up do in your day-to-day, better to stick with a more polished version of your usual look, as Kate did.

Lastly, take a cue from one of fashion’s most legendary icons, Coco Chanel

Before you go out, look at yourself – hard – in the mirror. If something looks ‘too much’ take it off. Maybe even take one more thing off.

To think of it, the only jewelry Kate, a real live Duchess and Queen to be, wore was the nature-inspired Robinson Pelham earrings, the Lady Di Sapphire ring, and the diamond Cartier “Halo” tiara, borrowed from the Queen. Bling like this is acceptable for her one and only wedding.

Tiaras for the prom – NO. Reserve that thrill for your wedding.


*Did you participate in the Carolee Prom earring give-away? If not, I’ve still got 1 pair left to gift.

HINT: These, BTW, make for a spectacular Mother’s Day gift if you haven’t gotten one for Maman yet.

**At this time, Vintage! does not have a website. It is a division of the Antiques Marketplace, Inc.

Tel: 914-242-9846.

***This is not the BCBG dress at Fifi’s as no photographs are allowed, but it’s similar.

The Royal Wedding Countdown – Cinderella/Kate Middleton’s Shoes

27 Apr

Text, Vivian Kelly

Well, here we are, hours away from the big day and we STILL don’t know what Kate, soon to be Princess Catherine, will be wearing on her nuptials at Westminster Abbey on April 29.

I’m tired of speculating on THE DRESS, and after watching a rerun of the Lady Di-Charles 1981 wedding on TV Sunday night, I’m pretty sure Kate didn’t tap David and Elizabeth Emanuel to design her gown. Lady Di looked gorgeous, but the giant cream puff gown is so alien to Kate’s streamlined look/aesthetic that I’m going with Sarah Burton at McQueen or a complete unknown. I hope Kate goes this route and flouts convention a bit, and jump-starts a career, as the late Carolyn Bessette did when she wore Narcisso Rodriguez for her wedding to John F Kennedy Jr. in 1996.

What I’m NOT tired of discussing are Kate’s accessories, namely her wedding ring and her shoes.

First, the ring. According to an article that ran today on,

“When Prince William places a Welsh gold wedding ring onto Kate Middleton’s finger, he’ll be replicating an 88-year-old tradition dating back to the marriage of his great-grandparents, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon and the future George Vi.”

Translation, the wedding ring will be a plain gold wedding band. When you’ve got a spectacular and elaborate engagement ring such as Kate’s, that’s really the best choice – go plain.

NOW, onto the shoes.

It’s been widely rumored that she’ll wear flats and if I had to walk four-minute walk up the aisle  functional and practical is a good idea.

Nothing worse to ruin your look that pain etched on your face because your feet hurt. The rumor – she commissioned four pairs of wedding shoes. According to an email I received 4/26, UK footwear designer Aruna Seth, is in the running. The Liana flats are dressy enough for the walk, the Bryony heels make for a dignified choice for the part of the wedding when she’s waving to the crowds gathered at Buckingham Palace, and the Farfalla butterfly heels are a great “let you hair down” choice for the post parties.

In the meantime, I’m going to copy another blogger, Drew Hassenstein‘s idea – to wake-up Friday morning and watch the Royal Wedding on TV, wearing a fancy hat, as if I were really there, in the pews, watching and committing every fashion detail to memory.

Carolee Contest: WIN Perfect Prom Jewelry and A Few Prom Looks to Consider

25 Mar

Text, Vivian Kelly

The Carolee earrings below are called “Make My Day or Night“, and they would make my day AND night.

Carolee is a terrific resource for jewelry. I was amazed at how good the prom options look and had trouble deciding which ones we are GIVING AWAY HERE in TheFE’s first-annual PROM GIVE-AWAY Contest.

Keep reading, the details on how to enter and win these beauties, below.

Last year, I realized just how big a deal prom is. I was sitting in my local Aveda [Shine] Salon and happy to have scored a color appointment. The colorist, hair stylists, aestheticians, and nail techs were booked solid with Prom Appointments.

At first, I thought they were kidding.Not at all. Prom is big business. The average high school girl, my stylist told me will get a facial, waxing, mani/pedi, highlights, makeup application, and an appointment for an updo. It’s kind of become like the rehearsal for one’s wedding day preparation.

And that’s just the beauty part. By the time you’ve sat in the salon, you’ve nailed your perfect outfit, which is completely possible without totally blowing what you’ve budgeted for  the the dress,  shoes, bag, and the jewelry.

No, you cannot skimp on the accessories because it is the details that make or break an outfit, as we see year after year at the Academy Awards.

Most teens can’t afford Van Cleef & Arpels, or serious Tiffany Jewelry, but there ARE some really great well-priced options out there that you won’t chuck or try to return the morning after.

**Here, as promised, are the details –

Style Name: Make My Day or Night Button Clip Earrings

Retail Price: $38

**TO WIN, all you have to do is to send us a comment, at TheFE telling us which dress YOU would wear with these earrings.

You don’t even have to be a prom goer to enter. I see myself wearing these from desk to dinner, and my prom was many many years ago.

We are only giving 5 pairs away so enter right away before you forget.

Contest Starts: March 26th

ENDS: April 2nd.

Winners will be announced in a full-on post HERE on Monday, April 4th.

Getting back to the rest of your outfit, don’t turn your nose up at lower-end retailers as go-to places to shop.

For shoes, I suggest Payless [particularly Lela Rose designs].

For the dress, J. Crew makes some classically beautiful gowns in their bridal collection.

For some really stylish options, whip out your Teen Vogue Prom Supplement.

We’re head over heels with their “Prom Queen” page. The White by Vera Wang Dress really DOES “channel your inner Cinderella”.

Those Carolee earrings would look amazing with it.

Good Luck ladies!

Shopping Info

Make my Day or Night earrings, available at Macy’s

>PART II of the Douglas Hannant Bridal Report – Company President, FREDERICK ANDERSON’s assessment on the luxury retail picture

24 Apr


Text, Vivian G. Kelly
Interview: VGK and Richard Spiegel

We were fortunate to grab Frederick after the show for what we thought would be a 2-minute Q +A. To our delight, what resulted was an in-depth conversation, in which Mr. Anderson, gave us his frank assessment on where retail is at, what works and what doesn’t.

VGK/RS: We absolutely loved how Douglas showed only 12 looks this time, and 14 last time. Talk about editing!

FREDERICK ANDERSON: Yes, you have to edit yourself, no question.

VGK/RS: Where is DH Bridal selling?

FREDERICK: It’s at Mimi’s in New Orleans and we’re working with Kleinfelds too. Now, we’ve got inquiries from Spain about it.

VGK/RS: Who’s buying your bridal collection, and how are you pricing it at retail?

FREDERICK: Our client is not going to get married looking like a fairy princess. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look like a fairy princess, but that’s not what we’re doing here. Our client’s in her twenties to thirties and she’s looking for a little more design. We just had one who flew over from Ireland for a dress, word is getting out.
Gowns go from $2,800 – 9,000. The average price is between $3,000 – 6,000.

VGK/RS: It’s no secret that the social girls love you and Douglas. Was this line created for your regular RTW customers?

FREDERICK: Actually, this bridal show you just saw was not about social. With bridal, we’re expanding our brand. Our couture clients will call us if they’re getting married though.

VGK/RS: What else are you doing to expand the brand, it’s a process!

FREDERICK: We launched the INSIGNIA COLLECTION last season. It’s at Nordstrom’s, Lord & Taylor, and Bloomingdales’. It retails in the $500 – 900 range.

VGK/RS: What plans do you have in the future pertaining to your brand expansion?

FREDERICK: We’d like a freestanding store. It’s good it’s been a slow year so we can find where the holes are in the industry and we can come in and fill them. The editorial we’ve been getting has been out of control for us. We can’t keep the samples in the showroom. It’s great!

VGK/RS: A lot of people are saying that luxury is dead. What direction do you think luxury retailing is headed in?

FREDERICK: Joe Boitano at Saks recently said that it’s now about “a new level of sophistication”.

VGK/RS: You and Douglas are like Mr. Blass was – you spend lots of time with your customer; you really know her. What is the luxury customer’s biggest complaint?

FREDERICK: Our women want quality, they’re used to it, they live with it, and they know when it’s not there. They may pick up a cute girly thing that’s in the stores, but that’s it. The stores are not clued-in enough about the fact that what women want more than all else is quality when they come in to buy.

VGK/RS: Retail is slow in the USA, but as Kramer on CNBC says, “somewhere out there, there’s a bull market”. Where are things hot right now?

FREDERICK: At ALOthman in Kuwait. They just opened a huge store there. They have Parisian Couture, Oscar [de la Renta], Carolina [Herrera].

To hear our entire interview [raw and unedited] with Frederick, you can listen to the pod cast at the following address:

ENDNOTES: To get a better idea of the DH style esthetic, read his CFDA DESIGN STATEMENT
Douglas Hannant strikes a balance between modernism and romanticism with an ease that is decidedly American. He succeeds in juxtaposing sportswear and couture, day and evening with a youthful regard. Hannant’s designs are simple in shape but rich in fabrication and texture.

To learn more about the Douglas Hannant brand, visit the official website,
Image of Frederick Anderson,VGK
Runway images, courtesy of Douglas Hannant
Photos from the Saks Launch of the Insignia Collection, Matt Carasella,
Image of ALOthamn, from the official website,


13 Apr


Text, Vivian G. Kelly

Although Joel Warren and Ed Tricomi weren’t on hand, the Warren Tricomi team did a fantastic job, creating the modern woman’s version of a bouffant up do.
The Said SHELLY BURZAWA, CLE DE PEAU BEAUTE’S Training Executive Director, “Think of a woman under candlelight and the porcelain look her skin has in that lighting.”
This provided a perfect canvas for the strong Liz Taylor arched eyebrow. Most of us aren’t fortunate enough to be born with perfect brows like La Liz, but no problem. The tools in CLE DE PEAU’s Eyebrow & Eyeliner Compact help you fill in the deficiencies.
Available in 2 shades at and at the Cle de Peau counter at Bergdorf Goodman, NYC.

WE couldn’t have been happier, ensconced in the splendor of the Plaza’s Palm room in a LOUIS XV armchair, listening to Ivor Stravinsky’s controversial ballet composition, “Rites of spring” playing and only 12 looks to have to focus on. Each gown was choreographed to correspond to a particular part of the ballet, from thunder to the blossoming of clouds. As the designer said, pre-show – “12 looks – that’s all you need to make a statement of what you’re doing.”
There were 2 silhouettes represented – bias and poof. Some brides have the perfect figure, as do many of Mr. Hannant’s society clients, the devoted followers of his couture collection, and it’s understandable that they’d want to show-off the efforts of their hard work. A good choice for them would be the ivory embroidered lace gown with a horsehair bodice or the modern looking white tulle veiled sequin racer back gown. A bride who wants to bring on the volume would probably prefer the strapless ivory satin faced organza spiral gown with a wide white marabou hem peeking out. Exit #8 reminded us of “Carrie’s” voluminous Vivienne Westwood gown; the one she wore to her aborted wedding at the New York Public Library. The white shantung tiered pouf gown had the lightness of a meringue cookie.
These gowns are deceptively “simple” but there’s nothing simple about achieving the flowing lines and flattering silhouettes Mr. Hannant has with this second bridal collection.

Backstage Images, Richard Spiegel
Image of Douglas Hannant with models, from the first D.H. Bridal Collection, R.S.
Images of the Collection, courtesy of Douglas Hannant
Images of Cle de Peau Cosmetics, from Neiman

COMING SOON, THERE’S MORE!: Later this Week – PART II of the Douglas Hannant Bridal Report – an in-depth conversation with Company President, FREDERICK ANDERSON. In this report, Mr. Anderson, gives his frank assessment on where retail is at and what works and what doesn’t.

To hear our entire interview with Frederick, you can listen to the pod cast at the following address: