“There is greater appreciation and dedication to making this special day momentous after so many cancellations,” said Stephanie White, the founder and creative director of bridal line Odylyne the Ceremony.
“The energy of excitement for 2022 and 2023 is really big right now and brides are more daring,” she added.
It was this mood that dominated last week’s New York Bridal Fashion Week, which took place from April 4 to 8 and mostly in person for the first time since the pandemic began.
Like the grander dresses that almost announce “I’m finally getting married after many delays,” the new bridal collections for fall 2022 and spring 2023 focused largely on fabric, detailing and new silhouettes.
“With our new collection, we wanted to show the craftsmanship behind the dresses,” said Sarah Swann, the chief creative officer at Amsale, a bridal atelier in New York City. “There is more couture and couture-like skill and lots of tailoring for exceptional fit.”
Shawne Jacobs, the creative director of Anne Barge and president of its parent company S. Jacobs, noted, too, that many brides were “savvier and more educated in what they want.”
Here are some highlights from the latest bridal collections.
Bridal designers made the traditional lace wedding dress fresh and contemporary. With a nod to the grand gowns of decades past (à la Grace Kelly and company), long-sleeved tulle bodices with high necklines were hand embroidered with oversize flowers for a modern look.
“Classic is still very popular,” said Ms. Jacobs, whose new collection featured a mock-neck, column gown with allover sequined floral embroidery. “But today’s brides want it more fashion forward, so that it stands out.”
The designer Sareh Nouri showed a taffeta ball gown with a floral-embroidered tulle bodice. Verdin Bridal’s interpretation of this timeless look was a romantic, tulle ball gown with a detachable 3-D floral-embroidered jacket.
Trains and Streamers
Part traditional train and part theatrical cape, the Watteau train added an air of formality with a bit of an edge this season. On mini dresses, sheaths and ball gowns, the Watteau train was worn attached to shoulders or the back of bodices for a grand entrance and then easily removed to transform the look for the post-ceremony celebration.
A floral jacquard fit-to-flare gown by Amsale featured a detachable Watteau cape. Rivini added a detachable floating tulle Watteau cape to a beaded lace sheath. And Monique Lhuillier’s floral embroidered mini dress was unforgettable with a matching, trailing Watteau train.
Designers also answered the bride’s call for an equally dramatic alternative to a veil or cape with long tulle streamers that drape from the shoulders and trail behind a gown. Ines by Ines Di Santo used tulle streamers to play up a shimmery, sleeveless A-line gown. GALA by Galia Lahav used tulle streamers to double as long, fairylike illusion sleeves. And Watters framed a V-open back on a frothy tulle A-line gown with ethereal layers of tulle streamers.
Puff and Removable Sleeves
The puffy-sleeve wedding dress that was popular in the 1980s is back in favor with a modern update. No longer overwhelming and stiff, this cheeky detail adds dimension and movement to a bridal look.
There were detachable and removable short puffy sleeves on ball gown, A-line and mermaid silhouettes in a variety of luxurious fabrics, from embroidered silk tulle to light-as-air taffeta. Reem Acra showed a regal, sleeveless silk faille ball gown with playful puff sleeves. Monique Lhuillier detailed a Juliet-esque, silk-and-tulle ball gown with a lace-up back and removable puff sleeves. And Halfpenny London’s billowy gown of packable, lightweight taffeta (good for a destination wedding) is accented by matching voluminous puff sleeves.
There was a return to strapless styles, too. “More brides want bare shoulders again for the drama and elegance after two years of not dressing up,” said Sharon Sever, the head designer for Galia Lahav.
Offering the best of both worlds, designers showed strapless wedding gowns with removable long sleeves, detailed with a trendy pouf for extra measure, as with Lihi Hod’s slim-cut silk Mikado dress, Rivini’s silk fit-and-flare gown with a bubble skirt, and Willowby’s satin fitted gown with a slightly draped bodice.
Feathers and Fringe
Brides are ready to party — and gowns with festive feathers or fringe suit that mood. “I believe 2022 will bring endless options and brides are going all out in fashionable and memorable ways,” designer Ines Di Santo said.
Inspired by the Roaring ’20s, this look works as a bride’s main dress or as her second look. Ms. Di Santo’s new collection includes an embroidered, halter midi sheath with a feather skirt. Hermione de Paula presented an embroidered tulle column dress with a dropped waist and long-fringe hemline, while Dana Harel detailed a slim-fitting tulle gown with flirty feathers. And because designers know that feathers aren’t just for dressing up a gown, Monique Lhuillier showed her collection with a statement shoe embellished with delicate, look-at-me plumes.
Pantsuits, trousers and jumpsuits were also part of the bridal offering. “There are so many different types of brides and designers want to show them a new way of dressing for their wedding,” Ms. Swann said. “For same-sex weddings or the bride who wants more than one look for her big day, there are many more choices.”
Amsale debuted a peplum tuxedo suit complete with a detachable tulle skirt. Nadia Manjarrez Studio Bridal introduced a matte crepe jumpsuit with a slight peplum bustier and side leg slits. And Costarellos paired a dotted net shirt with voluminous sleeves and chic trousers for a look that befits a prenuptial event or honeymoon.