The Trendy '20s
An era from nearly 100 years ago is new again.
The Roaring ’20s are back – at least in the world of bridal fashion, where wedding dresses are jazzed up in a way that makes brides kick up their heels and swoon over some of the latest designs.
The trend is heating up, thanks to a number of references. The season-three premiere of “Downton Abbey” – that ode to ’20s splendor and sumptuousness – drew a record 7.9 million viewers when it aired in the U.S. in January, many of whom wanted to see Lady Mary Crawley’s regal wedding ensemble, including her lacy, slim-cut, long-sleeved gown adorned with Swarovski crystals. Others are waiting with bated breath for the May release of “The Great Gatsby,” starring head-turner Leonardo DiCaprio.
Sue Wong, a Los Angeles-based designer of cocktail, evening and bridal gowns, credits the time for “a sense of unabashed glamour, a sophisticated spontaneity, the effervescence of champagne and music translated into fashion.”
“The glamorous appeal is striking a chord with brides,” agrees Rachel Garrett Olsen, manager of Panache Bridal in Beverly Hills. “Designers are using very soft fabrics that are thin and supple and cling to the bod,” she says. “They really accentuate the body without all the tulling and petticoats.”
Designers are injecting a 21st-century spin to the period’s style so that everything isn’t about loose, dropped-waist numbers. The dresses evoke sensuality in a subtle way.
Jenny Packham’s 2013 line makes use of silk chiffon, draped satins and French lace with soft sleeves and sparkling crystals. Key styles include Azalea, an off-white beaded lace gown with a plunging neckline; Strelitzia, a glittering V-neck gown; and Esme, a belted look with a slit upper back.
A highlight of Ivy & Aster’s collection is a short, silk dress with an illusion neckline and overlay of cotton lace for an art deco feel. Sue Wong permeates her collection with motifs from the period with scalloped hems and angled lines. Among her popular styles is a slim strapless gown with a swirling soutache bodice and a laser-cut petal skirt and a spaghetti-strapped V-neck gown with a hand-embroidered bodice and a skirt of folded petals instead of the typical swoosh of feathers.
There’s a consensus not to over-accessorize this look. The Deco trend can speak for itself with a simple beaded headband, more ornate lace headbands or a mini blusher with scattered crystals. Ultra-thin rhinestone belts can accentuate a waist or a beaded sash can modernize the look. “Let one or two elements do the talking,” says Hilary Anderson, co-owner of Alta Moda Bridal in Salt Lake City, Utah, which carries Monique Lhuillier, Anne Barge, Jenny Packham and Ivy & Aster. “This keeps it from getting too costume-y.”
In terms of shoes, peep-toes are a natural, as are crystal-encrusted styles, says Garrett Olsen. Anything with a strap for shoes is also a winner, says Jessica Brown, owner and designer of Ivy & Aster. Maybe even something borrowed along with something new. “It’s always easier to find something new, but a vintage piece of jewelry to work with a modern dress would really create an individual look,” Brown says.
[Images: Jenny Packham]