BARCELONA — Pronovias wrapped up Barcelona Bridal Week’s runway shows — of which there were 23 — with typical razzle-dazzle.
Key trends from what is generally considered the world’s largest bridal producer included body-skimming gowns in fine embroidered laces over flesh-colored crystal tulle with sheer illusion detailing, seductive back treatments and trains, the longer and wider the better.
Buyers said they were not shopping for basics. “Pronovias is not the same old-same old. Their gowns are different, figure-flattering, romantic and the lines are not fussy, which is important because with so many different body types, fit is key. Anyway, I’m definitely over fluff,” declared Aimée Pena, a one-store retailer and co-owner of Sweet Elegance Bridal in Decatur, Ga.
Her daughter, Kristine, added, “More and more brides are coming to the shop by themselves with no entourage and no family.” As it should be, Pena chimed in, “Wedding dresses are like men: You have to pick your own.”
The Barcelona-based manufacturer, currently in its 51st year, invited 2,000 guests to its hometown on May 8 and 9 for a preview of 2016. Guests were mainly specialty retailers and established customers from the multinational’s expanding global network; Spanish celebrities, including current “it” couple, tennis player Fernando Verdasco and girlfriend Ana Boyer (daughter of socialite Isabel Preysler) in a short cocktail dress with glitter geometrics from Pronovias’ Fiesta collection; a slew of international fashion editors, and Catalan politicians.
Buyers came from upward of 80 countries including the U.S., Russia, Kazakhstan, Peru and Panama.
The two-day presentation began with a nighttime runway show in the Catalan National Art Museum’s Oval Room. Featuring 48 styles by Atelier — Pronovias’ high-end label formed after the 2013 death of resident designer Manuel Mota and currently helmed by 44-year-old creative director Hervé Moreau, who was officially installed last week — dresses ranged from shapely mermaid silhouettes to full-skirted gowns in what U.S. buyers called “floating” or tattoo lace, silk Mikado, crepe, cotton pique and organza.
Not on the runway was the traditional Elie Saab capsule collection, long a stalwart of the Pronovias stable. “We’re not doing it this year,” said a spokesman crisply, without offering an explanation.
The following day, buyers got down to business at Barcelona’s Palau de Congressos, where more than 250 bridal gowns, purportedly a range of 2,000 accessories, including jeweled tiaras, lingerie, clutch bags, shoes and hats, and upward of 100 cocktail and mother-of-the-bride dresses from the brand’s Fiesta line stretched over two floors.
“Every year they get better. They did a great job with the combination of laces and the introduction of new materials like Mikado. Pronovias is the industry’s biggest trendsetter and our number one line,” said Dulce de Los Reyes, whose Coral Gables Bridals in Miami is 34 years old and the first store in the U.S. to pick up the Spanish brand.
De Los Reyes is upping her 2016 buy, especially with Atelier “and it’s a big order for one store.” Back treatments are top priority, she said. “It’s all about the back and trend-wise. Today’s brides are getting married later and they’re waiting longer to pick out their dress, which makes our buying trickier this year,” she concluded.
“I love it; Pronovias always has that edge, it’s the highlight of the year. It’s innovative, stylish, very classy and everything is so well-coordinated, you get the feeling no expense has been spared. I particularly liked the understated styles and clean, simpler dresses. That is the freshest news, I think,” said U.K. retailer Nicola Garton, second-generation owner of The Wedding Shop in Colchester, England.
Garton, who also heads Reading, England-based The Retail Bridalwear Association, added that there were 220,000 weddings in the U.K. last year, with 32 the average age of the bride. “There are a lot of second-time brides out there and, in our store, a strong repeat customer.
“The majority of the market is made up of standalone locations and venue weddings are popular. Generally speaking, there is a more informal trend to vintage, country and rustic. Brides are saying I want to be comfortable. See-through bodices are a definite no-no,” she said. “English brides are conservative; they think sexy is a low back.”
Said Jennifer Martin, co-owner of Gowns by Design in Mechanicsburg, Pa., “For quality and fabrication, there’s nothing like Pronovias. In our area, brides get married in barns and cowboy boots and lace is still the thing. I love Mikados but they’re not selling. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to buy — some illusion tan color, ivory over champagne and some of the laces,” she confirmed.
Pronovias Fashion Group is marketed in 105 countries via 155 company-owned and franchised stores and upward of 4,000 points of sale, according to the company. “We are in the process of making a big change,” said Andrés Tejero Sala, managing director and vice president. “We want to go from world leader to leader in every country in the world with a specific strategy per market. There is a huge difference in countries where we have a presence. It’s crucial to focus on each country with a specific approach — and it requires a big effort.
“In the U.S., for example, sales figures are not that bad, but they could be better. We have to triple those figures within about two years’ time, I would say.”
Currently, Pronovias’ core markets are Spain at number one and Italy in second place.
A serious approach to the U.S. market is on the drawing board, along with a stepped up marketing campaign and store openings, he added. “There are lots of things happening but it’s a step-by-step process, a combination of fear and ambition which translates into a message of prudence,” he said.