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“A simpler radiance” Cover Feature

Selection from “A simple radiance” by Elizabeth Wellington
featured in The Philadelphia InquirerJune 1, 2011

Bridal fashion is de-poufing, going tailored. And sleeves and straps, seen on Princess Kate and the red carpet, are on their way.

The image of the perfect fairy-tale bride is in the midst of a makeover. And fashion has everything to do with it.

The shift may be slow, but it’s far from subtle: Lacy bracelet-length sleeves are popping up within a dress market once dominated by strapless styles. Sparkling tiaras paired with fingertip-length veils mean baby’s breath and cathedral-length headpieces have some competition.

Slimmer A-line bias cuts are featured alongside the pretty poufiness essential in the early millennium. Sashes and lace overlays are besting boring bateau necklines and faux diamond crystals.

All of this pushes the style pendulum more toward medieval maiden than the cookie-cutter, Barbie-gets-married look that is all too familiar.

“It’s a simple elegance,” explained Kimberly Lee Minor, chief fashion strategist for the New York-based Priscilla of Boston Group. “For about 15 years, being a princess bride included very over-the-top, full-of-satin skirts and big, heavy ball gowns. Everything had to be strapless. Now we are evolving; she is much more demure and classic.”

We would like to point to the Duchess of Cambridge’s tailored sense of style and choice of a modest, long-sleeve gown with a sexy sweetheart neckline as the catalyst for the new era of bridal fashion. (Her choice to wear a second gown for the reception might start another trend.)

But it’s more accurate to say that Sarah Burton, the creative director for Alexander McQueen, took cues from the red carpet to come up with the on-its-way-to-iconic silhouette. After all, a May David’s Bridal survey of 1,200 brides showed 70 percent were inspired by red carpet looks.

Maybe armchair fashionistas thought Kate Middleton’s ensemble didn’t have enough oomph, but it’s likely the Chantilly lace gown just didn’t look like what they were used to.

In any case, whether your preference is sleeved or strapless, Middleton’s choice is symbolic of a larger fashion evolution.

It turns out the royal wedding was the culmination of emerging eveningwear trends that included a comeback for teardrop earrings and soft shoulder-length tresses. You might recall that at this year’s Golden Globe Awards, Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, and Leighton Meester all wore long-sleeve gowns by fashion-forward labels Atelier Versace, Armani Prive, and Burberry Prorsum.

Continue reading article here

View the Spring 2011 Bridal Fashion photo album at

Photo: Custom headpiece by Janice Martin Couture

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