Thank you Miss Peacock for Speaking Up.

I found the following comment from Miss Peacock over at Wedding Bee this morning.

”Since the VW salon would not allow me to take pictures, I asked these very unhappy 14 year old girls to model the dresses for me. They all showed up without washing their hair or putting on make-up, but since I was on a time crunch, I let it slide. They were also so hungry that I was worried they would eat me.”

Boy did she nail it! I have to tell you that seeing these models in person is sometimes pretty startling. While Miss. P’s comment is directed at the runway models for Vera Wang; the ones that have always disturbed me the most are the ones that Monique Lhullier uses. One season I sat in her runway show thinking that if these young ladies are that damn miserable why didn’t they just quit. Are they some kind of indentured servants? What are the designers trying to achieve with this undernourished junkie look?

In defense of Miss Wang, the models I see at her salon runway show don’t have that heroin junkie look. They also however, don’t have boobs either. I have sat at table in her showroom with both buyers and other members of the press and the comment always goes something like this:

“Pretty but can that gown even be cut to accommodate real breasts?”

It is a sad commentary that so many of the couture gowns are designed for the models rather than real American women.

At the same time that these designers are cutting for an almost boyish figure the popularity of breast augmentation surgery is on the rise. The result of these two distinctly opposite trends is that more and more brides that wear something like a size 2 in street clothes are having to order their gown in a size 12 or 14 to accommodate their bust. There is no way under the sun that these gowns can then be altered that much with out losing precious details.

I have said it before and I will keep saying until the WIC gets it. Stop designing for your models and take a look at the real women all around you. Climb down out of your atelier and go for a walk. One more thing, while you’re out there…eat a freaking sandwich, you could use it!!!!

Backstage at the Runway

You just never know where I’ll turn up. This weekend had me speaking in Fort Wayne, IN to a group of wedding professional on marketing and then the next day to the brides about wedding planning courtesy of The Wedding Connection.

I’ll do just about anything to better understand every aspect of the wedding industry. While I was in Fort Wayne I had the opportunity to do another new thing. This time it found me dressing the models for a runway show. I have sat on the front row for my share of these things from New York to Harrogate but I have never been back stage to experience the madness first hand. On your wedding day you will probably take 15 minutes or more to get your wedding gown on; between getting it laced or buttoned and putting on you jewelry and veil it’s a bit of work. Well we did it six times in just under 20 minutes yesterday! It was bridal carnage. There were gowns flying and veils everywhere. I’m just glad I wasn’t the one coordinating it. Dawn Quick owner of The Wedding Place in Fort Wayne did a wonderful job of herding cats to produce this runway show. Not an easy task at best but add a gaggle of flower girl models and that clearly put Dawn in the running for sainthood. Also big thanks to our bridal model, Tomi, for overlooking the obvious handicap of having a novice (me) dressing her.

Today has me doing a meet and greet at the Monogram Shoppe, a full service stationary store. Good thing there is extra room in my suitcase. I do have a thing for beautiful papers. I mean come on; why else would I have 6 different sets of personal stationary. 😉

If Its Sunday Then It Must Be Nuts

Of course it was. Sunday was a blur.

We started with the Gala show at the Waldorf, them Reem Acra, Monique Lhuillier, Pricilla of Boston then Claire Pettibone and finally Junko Yoshioka. In between I took time to visit with friends at Tigerlilly, Veil Trends, Kelly Chase and Mon Cheri.

Let me start by giving you two trends that have carried through all three markets. First and most important is a return to soft romantic gowns in soft sheer fabrics layered one over another to add texture and dimension. You can still find heavily structured bodices in some of the collection, notably Pricilla of Boston and Reem Acra but even they had some soft lovely layered gowns.

Look for shoes to take on greater importance as the gowns lose structure. Quite a few gowns with shortened hems, anywhere from the ankle to the knee, showed up in the collection. If this catches on it may become a real option for the bride not bent on being a princess for the day.

The one thing that I notice when I come to couture market is the fabrics. Brides always ask me why some gowns are so much more expensive than others. The answer is the fabrics. You can almost always find a gown in a similar style in another lower priced line than the top designers. What set these gowns apart is the sumptuous fabrics. These fabrics scream out to be touched; they drape better and hang more beautifully. When you go gown shopping look at some of the high end gowns in person; photos don’t tell the whole story. Go to the salons and touch them, look at the way they reflect light differently, take note of the way they fall. Our Grandmothers knew the difference; I think it is high time that this generation learned.

Another mark of a top end gown is the quality of the beading and embroidery. The patterns are matched perfectly, the beads are fully attached and the appliquéd lace is not just left hanging on the edges. All of these things take time and attention to detail not found in a less expensive imitation. They may sound like little details that you can live with out but they are the things that take a gown from nice to exquisite. Take the time to look at the difference before you do something silly like order a designer gown for $200 over the internet. Discover the differences the real thing has.

Trend Watch/ Harrogate

The first trend to really pop out at me for Spring/ Summer 2008 is about the fabrics. There is an abundance of sheer fabric overlays done over a soft satin base. On some the base color is white or ivory with the overlay adding a bit of color but mostly it is the other way around. There are gowns with spun gold under and sheer white lace over, or a rosewood base with a sheer chiffon overlay. Quite often the overlays are embroidered or lightly beaded.

The other trend has to do with the hem lines. I saw several gowns yesterday with fuller A-line skirts that had outer layers getting progressively shorter revealing either beautiful laces underneath or heavier satins and taffetas in a tiered effect.

Big on the runway were pleats. Any thing pinch pleats was in. Used in the beautifully soft sheer fabrics being employed it was adding a very flowing fullness over a touch more fitted gown on up to the other extreme of fullness. All in all a soft romantic look.

Glamour, What Glamour?

So you had the misbegotten notion that everything to do with the bridal industry was glamorous, did you? It’s not. The work that goes on just to get gowns to this point is a ton of work. The designers stand back stage having done all they could. Now it is up to whether or not the buyers like it. If they don’t you will never get to see it and all their labors of love will have been for nothing. Its amazing the power the buyers have when you think about it. I’ll have shots of the gowns for you tomorrow. They are beautiful.