Byline: Elaine Glusac

CHICAGO — The look going down the aisle for fall will be long, lean and clean.
Bridal retailers, preparing for the National Bridal Market here, say simple looks are outpacing frou-frou in wedding gowns as well as bridesmaids’ dresses. And the length for bridesmaids is strictly long — another hallmark of the elegance that dominates the season, according to buyers.
Here, WWD surveyed several bridal buyers for key trends.
Jenny Ignowski, Irena’s Bridal, Lombard, Ill.:
What’s new: “Gowns are simpler, cleaner and more elegant. There’s not much beading, bows or large trains. There are smaller-scale trains and skirts, no appliques and lace. If anything, there is minimal beading. The sheath, A-line and princess cuts are popular. Tapered, longer looks tend to be more flattering. Brides are trending away from heavy, ornate styles — they want clean, simple, less stuffy looks.”
On color: “Color that flatters the skin and hair is popular, like cream, beige and pink. White is still the most popular, and there are some gold tones.”
On bridesmaids: “Dresses are sleeveless, A-line and long. We don’t do any tea lengths. Everything is very formal, but very clean. Pastels are very popular. Black has faded away. They love shawls and gloves — they’re good accessories.”
On fabrics: “Satin and chiffon are popular. There’s not much crepe and no iridescent taffeta.”
Popular lines: Jasmine, Mon Cheri, Eve of Milady, Jim Hjelm, Watters & Watters, Bill Levkoff and Belfoie.
Skye Douglas Cassey, Bridals by Skye’s The Limit, Rockchester, Penn.:
What’s new: “I draw a fashion-forward customer. I bring in looks like big flowers and halters, streamlined shapes and straight skirts, sleeveless halters with tulle skirts.”
What she’ll buy: “I haven’t seen what’s out for fall, but I’d bet on gathered, strapless and sleeveless looks.”
On bridesmaids: “Bridesmaids are more sophisticated and streamlined, with Jackie O classic lines. All are long.”
Popular lines: Moonlight, Mon Cheri, Jasmine.
Nicole Samardzija, VIP Occasions, Elmhurst, Ill.:
What’s new: “There are no major monumental changes. Sleeveless has caught on, and so has the simple, elegant look. Still, there are so many cheap satins with long trains. It’s not a niche that’s fashion-forward. People have an idea of what they wanted 20 years ago, and that’s what they go looking for.”
What she’ll buy: “We’re much more conservative for fall than spring because it’s a smaller season. Spring has been a good season, but we get bombarded with buying minimums, and it’s hard to move them all.”
On bridesmaids: “They still pick out cheesy, puffy-waisted gowns, high in the front and low in the back. Sleeveless halters have been hot, and colors have changed, with lots of variety, from jewel tones to ice pastels.
Popular lines: Eve of Milady, Moonlight and Marisa.
Kathy Mestad, Mestad’s, Rochester, Minn.:
What’s new: “A-lines and Empire [gowns] are really coming on strong. It’s a nice look for all body types. There’s a little more leeway. It’s easier to fit when they fall from the shoulder to the bustline instead of fitting waist, bust and hips. Fall looks are a continuation of spring. Bridal doesn’t change quickly. There are five-to-seven-year cycles before we change. We’ve been two years with minimal, and it’s still growing.”
On fabrics: “From satin to organzas and chiffons, there’s everything from heavy to light and airy. There’s a real diversity this year. Candlelight — a shade of off-white — and natural silks are important.”
What she’ll buy: “I’ll pick up new looks I didn’t get before, like halters and tank tops. It takes us a while longer to sell the new styles. But you never want one look alone and forget about the rest. For every A-line [customer], there’s a girl who wants ruffles and everything but the kitchen sink.”
On bridesmaids: “Looks are leaner in bridesmaids’ dresses. Empire and A-line dresses with full skirts and lots of chiffon are popular. The real elegant look is back.”
Popular lines: Mori Lee, Lazaro, Marisa, Belfoie, Jasmine and Bill Levkoff.
Gail Malecot, CC’s Boutique, St. Petersburg, Fla.:
What’s new: “The very clean, sparse, bare, halter, sleeveless, tank top looks are hot right now. I can see that going forward. The ornate heavy look is gone. It’s understated, clean and simple. There are no sleeves or off-the-shoulder gowns. It’s more free-flowing. Girls don’t want to be confined. They don’t want to sacrifice comfort for the look. Detachable trains are big. As a society, we went from [prizing] Mercedes to sport utility vehicles. That feeling has filtered everywhere, that lifestyle has reached every industry. You wouldn’t think so in bridal, but it has.”
On color: “There’s no color [for bridal gowns]. Lazaro offers ice blue, but there are no requests for it. The looks are different, but they stay traditional.”
On fabrics: “There are both extremes. Tulle is still popular in bouffant skirts. Or, it’s fit-and-flare satins.”
What she’ll buy: “Fall is not a traditionally big market for bridal. I think buyers will be conservative with their buying because people bought so much for spring. The timing is off. We should be buying for spring in June. I’m selling now for September and October weddings, and they can’t see what’s coming for the season. [The industry] needs to move the selling seasons up.”
On bridesmaids: “Girls are requesting new colors for the first time: soft golds and maize, icy blues, pastels. For so many years, it was just jewel tones. Now, it’s softer and muted. Watters & Watters champagne has been popular. Designers thought chocolate would go over, and I didn’t find it popular at all.”
Popular lines: Lazaro, Eve of Milady, Watters & Watters.

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