The 2021 New York Fashion Bridal Week, which occurred virtually from April 6 to 8, brought new collections for fall 2021 and spring 2022, exciting trends — “Garden Party,” “Bridgerton”-esque, fantastical and more — and the emergence of new brands.
Similar to Prabal Gurung, seasoned ready-to-wear designers Patricia Bonaldi of PatBo, Daniela Karnuts of Safiyaa and Jackson Wiederhoeft have jumped into the wedding industry, while emerging designers like Brenna Simmons of Nordeen Bridal, Charles Dieujuste of Scorcesa and Andrew Kwon are making their debut with their first collections. Maison Sully, the Los Angeles-based bridal atelier, also launched in March and is giving vintage a fresh face for weddings through its customized, one-of-a-kind approach.
From fantastical, feel-good frocks to sustainable and destination-wedding attire, WWD speak with seven bridal designers about their brand to watch from the 2021 New York Fashion Week: Bridal.
DESIGNER: Brenna Simmons
BACKGROUND: “As a biracial Asian American, I grew up unsure of how to connect to my mixed identity. Despite my uncertainty, there are two things I have always known since the age of 12 — that I would create my own brand and the name of that brand would be Nordeen. A few years after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and working for brands like Carol Hannah, J.Mendel and Cynthia Rowley, I fell into an existential grasp of sustainability. It dawned on me the impact the fashion industry has on our planet and this pushed me toward a desire to make positive changes whilst adjusting the industry’s norm. This led to the opportunity to conceptualize, execute and build from the ground up what is now known as AMUR — a contemporary women’s wear brand focusing on environmentally friendly materials. It was the day after my own outdoor elopement in Colorado that I understood what Nordeen would finally be. Through the difficult process of looking for what I specifically had in mind to wear, I thought to myself, ‘I can’t be the only one.’ With adventure elopements gaining popularity within national parks and public lands, I felt something was missing from the market — attire that would harmonize with, and at the same time respect, the surrounding landscapes.”
YEARS IN BUSINESS: About one year
PRICE POINT: $395 to $6,000
STOCKISTS: Direct-to-consumer, available now for preorder on the website.
DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC: “Continuously inspired by the earth’s landscapes and its elements, I approach each piece with a commitment to nature and a desire to preserve its beauty. I seek to translate this through not just the materials used, but also through the designs themselves. Always gravitating toward minimal, effortless shapes distinguished by subtle yet unexpected details, my intention is to provide the outdoor bride with attire that harmonizes with their surroundings.”
INFLUENCES FOR SPRING: “Each season will be inspired by a specific natural landscape. Emphasized by delicate details, each piece in Collection 1 is designed to emulate the quiet strength encapsulated within the walls of a redwood forest.”
KEY PIECES/FABRICS FOR SPRING: “Aligning with my inspiration, delicate crinkle chiffon reflects bark wrinkled with age and wisdom, whilst a hammered satin mimics the effects of bright daylight glistening amongst the trees. Intertwining forest flora inspired an intricately embroidered silk tulle, and classic moire is mirrored in a gauzy silk jacquard. Organic silk is introduced, furthering my clean, responsible approach to bridal attire.
“Key pieces include a group of separates that echo sturdy, yet slender silhouette shapes. These pieces are interchangeable to create four very different looks. In addition, there are two handmade sweaters knitted with Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certified wool that can provide warmth and compliment any bridal look.”
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR BRIDES AFTER THE PANDEMIC IS OVER? “During the pandemic, a lot of us spent time in reflection. I hope after all this reflecting, we can now take action and turn these hopes and dreams into reality….Traditions will most likely continue, but I hope the space grows for those that want to break out of that. Elopements and micro ceremonies allow for more focus on just the couple, allowing them to be more present in their emotions and with each other. I hope this unconventional path becomes more conventional. I hope brides’ dream looks continue to be more easily accessible. And I hope brides can continue to be present within their surroundings, just as nature is.”
DESIGNER: Charles Dieujuste
BACKGROUND: Dieujuste has a background in design and studied fashion marketing and management, and has been a public relations professional since 2010.
YEARS IN BUSINESS: One year
PRICE POINT: From $380 up. (Prices vary based on the bride’s needs; Scorcesa has atelier services as well.)
STOCKLISTS: Direct-to-consumer, as well as made to measure
DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC: “Modern architecture, minimalism infused with feminine silhouettes — bridalwear reimagined.”
INFLUENCES FOR SPRING: Tailored proportioned silhouettes, with lightly embroidered details, metallic adornment and lightweight embellishment.
KEY PIECES/FABRICS FOR SPRING: Paying homage to the modern bride, the key pieces for spring are the Jasmine wide-legged trousers and the Jada top. These pieces are versatile and size-inclusive. Silk Mikado would be a great choice.
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR BRIDES AFTER THE PANDEMIC IS OVER?: “My hope for brides after the pandemic is normalcy and the excitement of having their dream wedding come to fruition. I believe that every bride should have their fairy-tale wedding surrounded by family and friends.”
DESIGNER: Patricia Bonaldi
BACKGROUND: Born and raised in Brazil, founder and designer Patricia Bonaldi began her career by opening a multibrand store in her hometown of Uberlândia. Soon after, she began receiving requests to design her own collection, launching her eponymous label. The richly detailed embroidery and original prints that are a hallmark of PatBo are a perfect example of Bonaldi’s commitment to both technical expertise and boundless imagination. Rather than outsourcing, she established a school in her hometown for the express purpose of teaching local artisans this special craft.
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 19 years; 2021 marks the brand’s bridal debut.
PRICE POINT: Bridal rtw: $500 to $1200; swimwear: $100 to $500
STOCKISTS: Today PatBo is sold in 15 different countries and available in more than 200 stores globally including Net-a-porter, Fwrd, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Harrods.
DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC: PatBo captures the vibrant energy of South America through artfully hand-embroidered rtw and swimwear collections that feature original hand-drawn prints.
INFLUENCES FOR SPRING: This debut bridal collection was born out of the seemingly endless requests to make the brand’s signature styles in white. Inspired by Bonaldi’s Brazilian heritage, references of the ocean can be seen throughout the collection with acrylic seashell-shaped hardware and metallic mesh fabrics that shimmer in the sun. The intricate details pay homage to the brand’s DNA.
KEY PIECES/FABRICS FOR SPRING: Dresses and separates adorned with hand-sewn jute trim, delicate cotton fringe, crochet embroidery and metallic airy mesh fabrics. Swimwear features thoughtfully placed cutouts and plunging necklines that show just the right amount of skin. Perhaps the most anticipated style is the Cut-Out Long Sleeve Beach Dress, which features a Lycra bodysuit that molds to the body attached to a flowy skirt in an airy netted fabric.
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR BRIDES AFTER THE PANDEMIC IS OVER? “My hope is that once we are able to reunite safely with our loved ones, these celebratory moments are going to be more amazing than ever. I do believe there will be an influx in destination weddings seeing as we have not been able to travel, and people will be wanting to be in beautiful and exotic destinations.”
DESIGNER: Jackson Wiederhoeft
BACKGROUND: Jackson Wiederhoeft graduated from Parsons in 2016, winning Women’s Designer of the Year with their collection “The Dollies.” From there they went on to work on Thom Browne’s design team, focusing on embroidered and runway pieces. An undercurrent of theatre has always persisted — Jackson’s early training included an apprenticeship at the Alley Theatre costume shop and creating costumes for various Broadway shows.
YEARS IN BUSINESS: One and a half; the spring 2022 bridal collection is Wiederhoeft’s second bridal collection and fifth collection overall.
PRICE POINT: $900 up to $18,000
STOCKISTS: “The first bridal collection [spring 2021] was only sold direct-to-consumer. While I would love to see growth into wholesale accounts, and it’s something we are aggressively pursuing this season, I also want to encourage brides to engage with the brand directly.”
DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC: Wiederhoeft is consumed with the idea of “modern nostalgia” — something that is unapologetically romantic and in many ways old-fashioned, but executed in a way that is modern, with a very clean and contemporary take. The Wiederhoeft bride does not eschew tradition entirely — rather, they are informed by classicism, and walk parallel to traditional ideas — forging their own path while still considering a classic context.
INFLUENCES FOR SPRING: “Goddesses, nymphs, cherubs. Eartha Kitt, music boxes, Anna Pavlova. Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jean-Baptiste-Camille-Corot, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, John Singer Sargent. It’s always about a little bit of everything.”
KEY PIECES/FABRICS FOR SPRING: “I’ve become really obsessed with cotton content within the fabric offering. Even with simple silks and classic qualities — sourcing and creating fabrics that include a high cotton percentage, as I’ve found this gives the fabric a lot of character, keeps it from feeling too limp or delicate, and is such a pleasant experience for the wearer.
“As always, I’m very excited about the new corset offering, as this is something that is crucial to the Wiederhoeft vision. Also, the tailored capsule — we’re introducing jacket, trouser, skirt and blouse styles in a really beautiful custom beach-y jacquard that offer a very tailored silhouette in a really striking fabric. We have so many gowns this season, but the Wiederhoeft mentality is always interested in the layered and mixing styles approach.”
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR BRIDES AFTER THE PANDEMIC IS OVER? “As a designer, it’s my job to design clothes for a world that doesn’t yet exist. So I feel this collection speaks to the world that I hope we will inhabit in the coming month or year. I think we will see a huge return to joy, a celebration of life and an appreciation for the little things. I hope celebrants will take this moment to experience their ceremonies in a new way — reconsidering what’s expected of them and focusing on ways to make it personal and classic for them.”
DESIGNER: Daniela Karnuts
BACKGROUND: Fashion media
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 10 for rtw; 2021 marks Safiyaa’s second bridal collection
PRICE POINT: Separates start at $500, dresses at $800
STOCKISTS: Net-a-porter, Mytheresa, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols
DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC: “Safiyaa is timeless, chic, bespoke. We celebrate femininity and all that makes a woman beautiful with unapologetic confidence. Striking silhouettes in luxe fabrics and rich colors are fused with artisanal craftsmanship to create a demi-couture collection for day, night and bridal.”
INFLUENCES FOR SPRING: “I was inspired by very modern silhouettes contrasted with ethereal, romantic embroidery.”
KEY PIECES/FABRICS FOR SPRING: “Heavy crepe and satin chiffon; we also used various embroideries: crystal baguettes, flower bud embroidery, curled leaf embroidery and pearl wing embroidery.”
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR BRIDES AFTER THE PANDEMIC IS OVER? “My hope for brides is to have the freedom to enjoy and celebrate all the aspects of their magical day, one that’s full of friends and family.”
FOUNDER: Melissa Sullivan
BACKGROUND: Maison Sully is a Los Angeles-based bridal atelier offering reimagined vintage gowns an accessories. The atelier was founded with the desire to offer brides storied pieces that they can personalize and make their own through the atelier’s in-house hand-tailored service and offering a financially attainable custom gown experience, while embracing sustainability and inclusivity.
The brand was founded by Melissa Sullivan, an experiential designer with a career producing weddings for some of the most sought-after planners in the world. For more than a decade, she has guided brides lamenting over the struggle to find pieces that were both uniquely reflective of their personalities and financially attainable. This process reawakened her appreciation for vintage collectibles, which began at a young age in accompanying her mother to estate sales as they moved around the country — a passion that she continued to foster into adulthood. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, her combined background in weddings, fashion and vintage collection set the foundation for the launch of Maison Sully.
YEARS IN BUSINESS: Launched in March
PRICE POINT: On average, $600 to $3,000, with “bridal basics” in the $400 to $600 range.
DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC: The silhouettes feature clean lines with bold design accents — achieving a refined balance between simple and statement, enriched by fabrics that define the depth and character of every individual piece. There is a particular focus on the mod and disco eras of the 1960s and 1970s.
A vintage assortment from prominent designers such as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta and Thierry Mugler; collectible designers iconic to their respective decades, like Gene Shelly (1960s) and Mary McFadden (1970s-1980s); non-designer vintage garments and in-house upcycled accessories.
INFLUENCES FOR SPRING: Maison Sully has sought to collect ethereal dresses and gowns, as well as statement courthouse looks — think mod skirt suits and structured dresses featuring buttons down the entire front.
KEY PIECES/FABRICS FOR SPRING: Pieces in lightweight fabrics like chiffons and silks, as well as breathable basics like eyelet cotton for rehearsal dinners and semi-casual outdoor weddings.
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR BRIDES AFTER THE PANDEMIC IS OVER?: “Our hope is that nontraditional, statement style choices are here to stay. Traditions have been challenged during the pandemic, as brides were forced to consider what is really important to them, rather than what was expected of them. Why not wear a statement veil with a jumpsuit you will actually want to wear again? We encourage bold choices that uniquely capture the vision of the wearer and the intimate essence of the occasion.”
DESIGNER: Andrew Kwon
BACKGROUND: Kwon is a designer based in New York City and 2019 graduate of Parsons. While at Parsons, he was presented with a scholarship and award from the Luxury Education Foundation, represented Parsons at the Supima showcases at NYFW and Paris Fashion Week and had his senior thesis, eveningwear collection, “The Underwater Garden,” displayed at Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards. Following graduation, Kwon was preparing to go to retailers with two eveningwear collections. While developing a business plan, the pandemic hit.
In March, Kwon started to think, “Not many women are able to spend thousands of dollars on a gown for a gala or an event. But the one time they really do consider it is on their wedding day. I’ve always loved the red carpet, but I grew up in places where the red carpet was nowhere to be found. But the ‘red carpet’ for so many women was their walk down the aisle — I found that to be genuine to who I was and where I grew up. So that’s where that idea came to fruition. I developed my business plan and developed my bridal collection all during the pandemic, ‘Collection 1 — Reminiscence.'”
The Andrew Kwon label is manufactured and produced in New York City’s Garment District.
YEARS IN BUSINESS: One year
PRICE POINT: $5,000-$10,000 (the main collection); $1,000-2,000 (veils)
STOCKISTS: Bergdorf Goodman
DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC: “Red carpet meets bridal; it’s about making those dreams and fantasies become a reality. I’ve loved the fantasy of it, but I’ve also loved the fantasy of Greek mythology as well. I put a lot of fantasy, romance and ethereal qualities in my designs. Quintessentially, my aesthetic and goals are a modern take on traditional atelier couture.”
INFLUENCES FOR SPRING: “Music — listened to generation’s most gifted composers — like Max Richter, Carlos Rafael Rivera and Johann Johannsson, who are all able to convey emotion, strength and beauty through music. Bridging that concept through bridal was paramount and sparked a flood of emotions and memories.
I attended my mother’s wedding as a teenager and that memory and feeling is still so vivid to me. It was emotionally beautiful. It moved me so much and showed me the resilience that a bride possesses, but also the innate beauty each woman carries in her everyday life.
I studied dance growing up, and was inspired by one of my favorite dancers, who I’ve had the honor and pleasure of dressing before, Sophia Lucia. Someone I’ve seen who has really proven the power of fashion and wardrobe is someone I am proud to call a friend, Olivia Palermo. I wasn’t at Olivia’s wedding, but I remember her bridal moment. It was incredibly distinct, unique and timeless.”
KEY PIECES/FABRICS FOR SPRING: “All of them. I love the drama in the Hera gown, and it shows so much fantasy in the piece. The Freya is another one I find very special because I think this really shows how much I have found beauty in mythology, and it shows how I reimagine it for the modern woman and bride.”
Key fabrics: South Korean silk — it’s so silky, lush and, of course, I’m Korean American, so it’s a little part of me that felt like it was something I was so passionate about incorporating into my collection. French lace, from the iconic lace-maker, Solstiss. Tulles, tulles, tulles — luxurious Italian tulles, whether it’s a nylon tulle, a hexagon nylon tulle or a tutu tulle.”
WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR BRIDES AFTER THE PANDEMIC IS OVER?: “To believe that their dreams and fantasies can and will become a reality. I would say I’m a dreamer, and there’s nothing wrong with that. While many hopes and dreams for brides during the pandemic might have been delayed or shattered, there’s always hope and beauty in everything. I came from a dark place of loss and heartbreak, but I found the beauty in it by turning my emotions and feelings into passion and dreams, which became my designs and recently, reality. I want brides to know that their dreams they’ve been dreaming of are still possible. I hope that when brides see my collection, they feel something emotionally beautiful, and I want them to put on my gown or veil and really feel that their fantasy and dream has become a reality, now all they need to do is have their red carpet moment and walk down their aisle.”