When it comes to bridal trends, New Orleans women don't always fit the mold: They eschew some national trends and create others unique to the region.
"Ever since I moved to New Orleans, I see feathers incorporated into veils and headpieces like I have never seen anywhere else," says Lisa Iacono, a designer whose West Bank garment factory offers custom gown designs as well as alterations and reconstructions. "That's a great way to bring local culture and vibration."
Gail Hester, a bridal consultant at Mimi NOLA, points out that the black wedding gown collection Vera Wang showed in 2012 and the burgundy and plum gowns from spring 2013 didn't gain purchase among her clientele. "The color was so bold, but on the East and West coasts the (red and black wedding gowns) sold. They were bombs here," Hester says. "Here, girls just aren't ready to transition to a bold color."
Though a bride's region, culture, preferences and even the venue in which she's getting married can influence the type of gown she selects, Hester and Iacono cite a few trends among brides and on designer runways. Here's a rundown.
A BODY-CONSCIOUS SILHOUETTE
On the flip side, Iacono says many brides are passing on structural gowns that require corsetry and petticoats in favor of those that fit closer to the body. "The silhouettes are getting longer and leaner, with almost columnesque shapes," Iacono says. "I'm seeing softer fabrics and designs that don't require that much structure, and I hope it stays that way. I've never understood why girls work so hard on their bodies for their weddings and then strap themselves into gowns that don't show off their hard work."
A long slit is a frequent complement to a slim silhouette and has the added benefit of permitting greater range of motion for the bride. "The opening in the front allows some leg to come through, and I think that's really sassy," Iacono says. Hester agrees: "The slit in the front is so cool and modern, and girls want something they can boogie in."
BLING IN SMALL DOSES
All-over beading is taking a backseat to what Hester calls "focused bling"— sparkle that comes from a pin, fascinator or belt. "(Brides) don't want it all over the dress," says Hester, who points out that many brides are choosing glittering shoes as their focal accessories. Iacono has also noticed a decline in beaded dresses. "Things are taking a lighter feel all over," Iacono says.
A HINT OF COLOR
A few seasons ago, bridal gowns with contrasting sashes or panels of color were all the rage. Now color is still present, but its role is shifting. Instead of featuring the notorious "pop of color," gowns in soft, antiqued shades are taking center stage. "The use of color is all over and it's neutral — things that look tea-dyed or have a vintage ivory tone," Iacono says. Hester is seeing delicate rose hues. "Girls are beginning to go toward blush and the softer pastels," she says.
A ball-gown silhouette is a wedding-day classic and makes for a dramatic procession down the aisle; for these reasons, Iacono thinks the look will never go away. "I see strapless sweetheart gowns that have a lot of structure, and then outside of that, billowy draping," Iacono says. Now, texture, tiered organza ruffles and draping bring new attention to the gown's lower half. "The gowns are more architecturally interesting in terms of the skirt," Hester says.
SLEEVES AND TOUCHES OF LACE
"Since Kate Middleton's wedding, there's a lot more interest in lace and in dresses that aren't strapless," Hester says. "A tight, long lace sleeve makes (brides) feel elegant." Lace can also be worn as a cap sleeve, applique, placed over a plunging neckline for modesty's sake, or worn on the bodice or the back of a gown. "All-over lace will always be a beautiful, classic way to make a gown, but more and more I'm finding it strategically placed to add a hit of texture," Iacono says. "I've also sewed vintage lace from a grandmother's gown into a veil. It's a way to add an emotional tie or personal touch."
On the cover: Blush V-neck gown in silk taffeta and tulle, $3,000-$4,000 at Pearl's Place.
Bustles and Bows (3230 Severn Ave., Metairie, 504-780-7090; www.bustlesandbowsbridal.com)
Pearl's Place (3114 Severn Ave., Metairie, 504-885-9213; www.pearlsplace.com)
Wedding Belles (3632 Magazine St., 504-891-1005; www.weddingbellesstationer.com)