I am so SO excited by my latest find! One of my biggest loves (at the moment) is the fashion of ‘La Belle Epoque’ – that golden age at the end of the 19th century and before World War I, when women still wore the lavish tightly corseted bodices and long skirts of the Edwardian era.
I just love the feminine shapes created by the clothes of the period and the luxurious fabrics, a decadence never really recaptured after the war, and my love of the fashion has only been intensified by exquisite English period drama Downton Abbey – here’s just a little reminder of why …..
(Downton Abbey image source Enchanted Serenity of Period Films)
Just imagine my jubilation when, whilst researching Edwardian fashion and dresses, I came across these devestatingly gorgeous bridal gowns……
How heavenly are they?? So reminiscent of the structured dresses of the Edwardian era but with a modern edginess……I want to get married again just so I can wear one!
Of course, none other than the incredible Vera Wang could be responsible for designs so amazing! Both dressess are from her beautiful Spring 2011 collection – however they still appear on her Bridal Homepage so I think she loves them as much as I do.
What I love even more is that on her website, in her fantastic blog Vera Unveiled, Vera has posted some sketches of the designs in ‘behind the dress’ and her thoughts, inspirations and ideas for each dress.
Francesca – a strapless 2 piece feather faille mermaid gown with asymmetrically ruched peplum bodice and back bow (available in White, Ivory, Champagne and Beige)
Vera says “I often use the corset as my starting point for a dress when I’m looking to create a very sculptural, architectural effect. But I never want the traditional rigidity of a corset to be the last word when it comes to the bodice.
With Francesca, the foundation of this two-piece gown is a modernized version of a bustier that I’ve pleated and asymmetrically hand-draped. Using feather faille, a fabric particularly well-suited to voluminous, extravagant shapes, I created a peplum that flows organically across the body’s natural form, almost like wearing a very seductive suit of armor.
I love the way the dense pleating in the front swoops around the back to reveal a fuller, frothier side that’s very bustle-like. It’s a deceptively simple gesture that creates multiple points of view, but one that requires incredible precision—the drapes have to be well-defined enough to fit the body in that beautifully contoured way. Francesca is an extremely modern take on the classic mermaid silhouette.”
Freya – an asymmetrical v neck feather faille mermaid gown with draped peplum bodice and exposed organza corset back (available in White, Ivory, Champagne and Beige)
For this design, Vera says “The draped peplum is the center of attention in this gown, and it gives a bold, architectural emphasis to the silhouette. The soft shadow in the drape contrasts with the clean, straight lines of the skirt and the train.
I love the delicacy in this collection, but with Freya, I gave it some rigidity and some strength. You can see the exposed organza corset, which is a detail I’ve used in several of the gowns. Here in Freya it gives us a look at the underpinnings, the boning and hooks of the dress in a very contemporary way, so that it’s almost a little cheeky. I think this is very Modernist: the bride who wears this dress will appreciate the romance of natural settings and organic lines, but she is also drawn to the artfulness of the construction. The sensuality of the bare shoulder is irresistible to her, which is an opportunity I always appreciate when I design. The neckline also strikes the perfect balance between propriety and flirtation.
The bride who wears Freya assumes a role that’s a little dramatic, because she’s countering all of this softness and gentleness with a very designed and rigid form, almost like a column. I see her as a very cultivated woman, someone who could be the subject of a John Singer Sargent portrait. She might go to a quiet garden party but she’ll be the center of attention.”
I love the insight ‘Behind the Dress’ gives you into Vera’s design process and her musings on the bride who might buy her incredible creations.
The best news is that there is a fabulous Vera Wang Shop-in-Shop in Sydney, NSW – Helen Rodrigues, who also stocks one of my favourite vintage designers (and the designer of my own wedding dress) Jenny Packham. Established in 2002 Helen Rodrigues specialises in luxury, globally recognised designers, stocking the latest bridal trends and collections.
I envy all lucky brides-to-be who have the chance try and buy one of these stunning dresses!
(All Vera Wang design images from Vera Wang‘s website)