LONDON — It used to be impossible to attend a wedding — pre-pandemic, that is — and not spot at least one Rixo dress: the feel-good prints; romantic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, and sweet-spot price points ticked many guests’ boxes.
Now, the London-based label wants to dress the bride, too, with its first bridal range launching today. A dedicated bridal boutique is also set to open when government lockdown restrictions lift in London.
The launch has been in the works for more than a year and a half, but the current landscape, and the switch from two-day wedding extravaganzas to more intimate affairs, has helped highlight the relevance of Henrietta Rix’s and Orlagh McCloskey’s vision for the category.
There are no six-month lead times, pouffy gowns or not being able to try the dress on in the right size, which is most often the case in traditional bridal boutiques where dresses are only available to try in a sample size.
“The bride can come in, and if she had a change of plan and needs to get married in a registry office in the next two weeks, we’ve got a wide range of pieces in stock that are available for everyone, from dresses to jumpsuits and two-piece suits,” said McCloskey.
“We think this is refreshing for a contemporary bride, who might not want a traditional ballgown or a massive 200-people wedding.”
The 26-piece range channels the same laid-back, vintage feel that originally made Rixo so popular. There are sequined mini numbers and lace-trimmed tea dresses that were directly inspired by some of Rixo’s signature ready-to-wear silhouettes.
There are also more elevated styles, alluding to the design duo’s rich library of vintage references: Kate Moss attending a wedding in an Ossie Clark suit; Bianca Jagger getting married in that famous Yves Saint Laurent white ensemble, or Priscilla Presley opting for a long, pared-back dress for her Las Vegas wedding in 1967.
“It’s a lot more wearable. There’s not really a lot of huge, big puffy dresses [in the range] that don’t make you feel like yourself on the day. That’s how it always worked for us: We wouldn’t want a designer dress that wouldn’t make someone feel like themselves or allow them to move easily,” said Rix, adding that the majority of the dresses in the range can be styled in new ways and re-worn.
“Some of the slipdresses would look amazing with a tan on holiday. We would hate for our customers to think they can never wear the dress again and just forget it at the dry cleaners or leave it in the wardrobe for years, and not touch it.”
The collection is priced between 295 pounds and 1,450 pounds, in line with the label’s broader contemporary offer.
“This [wearable aesthetic] just lends itself well to the price points. There wasn’t really an aim to try and attack that bit of the bridal market, it was more in keeping with what we felt is the Rixo DNA,” said McCloskey, also pointing to the luxurious silk fabrications and attention to fit that went into the construction of the dresses.
“The prints are stripped away so it was all about the shapes being flattering, so that the bride feels completely comfortable on the day,” added Rix.
Although Rixo is a digitally native brand, the founders said offering a physical experience was key.
Unlike many traditional bridal stores, women will not be forbidden from taking pictures. Stock will be available in a broader range of U.K. sizes — 6 to 16 — so that women can try the dresses on in their size instead of squeezing into a sample size, and then using their imagination.
“Our market research made it clear that the [bridal store] experience wasn’t great, people weren’t enjoying the trying-on process. So we wanted to really commit to launching this, with a stand-alone bridal boutique and a dedicated bridal manager,” said Rix, adding that while stores remain shut, the brand will be offering one-on-one virtual appointments.
The label, which has always been big on customer events and staying close to its community, has been quick to adapt to the new digital-first landscape, tapping an array of chefs, meditation teachers, facialists and more, to help move its popular gatherings to the virtual realm early on. It has also hired a customer specialist to take on virtual appointments and has moved away from seasonal collections in favor of smaller, more regular drops.
Its latest non-bridal range made its debut during Copenhagen Fashion Week earlier this month and will drop in May.
“In our company we don’t really use seasons anymore, we call it delivery drops,” said McCloskey, pointing to the value of shortening the waiting time between the time a collection is presented and it becomes available to shop. “There have been lots of adjustments, but it’s been worth it for the customer, when we think about how she wants to shop.”