A love affair with lace is making vintage-inspired wedding gowns a bridal favorite. But, for brides who want the real deal, actual vintage wedding gowns are another way to embody an era of yesteryear.
Additional publicity generated by two new shows – “L.A. Frock Stars” on the Smithsonian Channel and the “Dukes of Melrose” on Bravo – trumpeting the benefits of vintage dresses has only added to the interest. A recent episode of the “Dukes” showcased Ashley Madekwe, of the ABC drama “Revenge,” searching for a wedding dress and finding a $2,800 Oscar de la Renta style for her reception.
Vintage dresses, those that herald from the 1920s to 1980s, come with a story or can inspire one in the mind of the buyer, only adding to the romance of the occasion.
“For brides, the uniqueness of the dress is very important these days,” says Paula Cooperman, owner of Mill Crest Vintage boutique in Lambertville, N.J. Often confronted with racks of sameness at bridal stores, “brides appreciate the good quality construction and timelessness of vintage.”
Certainly, brides can save money by going the vintage route. Designer gowns can carry more cachet, but the price tag vaults, especially if it’s found at a high-profile store, such as Decades, the subject of the Bravo show. A Jean Patou by Christian Lacroix vintage white lace strapless gown is commanding $8,000 on the store’s website.
“Designer names can certainly woo a buyer,” says Rose Crossen, owner of The Vintage Bride in Trinidad, Calif. “I think that the selection of a wedding gown is so terribly personal, though, that if a bride finds the right one, it doesn’t matter who designed it.”
Luxe looks selling at The Frock.com, a website that skews towards designer styles, can provide fashion dreams come true for brides. On trend with the inclusion of gold coloring is a Christian Dior gown from around 1955 in white tulle and gold silk duchess satin with a trained bow selling for $5,900. Or those lace fans will appreciate the circa-1960 Valentino beaded lace sleeveless gown that sells for $4,700.
For 21st century brides, dresses that are in demand at Mill Crest Vintage are Mod-style dresses in trapeze styles or gowns that incorporate crochet elements for a boho appeal. At The Vintage Bride, tea-length gowns are key, offering a feminine and playful silhouette. Silk and satin styles also are popular along with silk georgette looks.
In terms of eras, gowns from the 1920s and 1930s are catching the eye of brides at Mill Crest Vintage, inspired by looks from “Downton Abbey” and the new film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” due out in May. Crossen says the 1950s offer up a number of “classic” styles that have a lot of appeal.
The beauty of vintage, too, is that the gowns can be altered. Depending on the dress, seamstresses can add built-in bras or can even make the dress larger. Of course, maintaining the integrity of the dress is what’s important, so brides should make sure they have a supportive maid of honor to lend a helping hand.
“There is something about the laborious job of fastening 40 satin-covered buttons down the back [of a gown] that feels ceremonial,” Crossen says.
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