BOUWER’S WHITE KNIGHT: After years of designing wedding gowns for select clients, Marc Bouwer has created his first full-fledged, by-appointment bridal collection.
The designer is far from a rookie in the bridal category. He designed the $40,000 wedding gown that Whitney Houston wore to wed Bobby Brown in 1992. In fact, Bouwer’s president Paul Margolin adjusted the musician’s earrings and Bouwer placed Houston’s veil over her face, before she and Brown exchanged vows in her New Jersey home.
Bouwer got a jump on this month’s upcoming bridal market by shooting a look book for the 10-piece wedding dress collection. Photographer Duke Wiin, who has worked with the designer numerous times, shot the bridal looks in a NoHo photo studio in Manhattan. The lensman plans to open his own studio in Bushwick in July. Unlike Bouwer’s signature customized gowns for which retail prices start between $8,000 and $10,000, the wedding dresses will start at $3,500. His customized wedding gowns will sell for upwards of $8,000. A strapless gown, a plunging V-neck style and a halter neck gown with sheer, oversize bell sleeves are among the styles. Bouwer hopes to sell hundreds of the wedding dresses. “This is a start. We are now officially in the bridal world,” he said.
Bouwer said it was hard to tell which ones would be the lead choices with brides-to-be. “They’re very modern takes on traditional shapes, especially in the fabrications. Everything stretches. There are fabrics like neoprene, jersey — all of the laces stretch. We used microsequins, pearlized sequins and handmade flowers,” he said. “There is an ethereal quality that you bring to weddings that you don’t necessarily bring when you’re doing sexy, red-carpet dresses. They are a little more tough, a little more va-voom.”
The designer tried to make the sleeves on the gowns more like trains. “I feel that is a detail that has been neglected with a lot of bridal in the past. I almost made them kind of sexy in that they’re very low-cut or scoop-neck. But we do have boatnecks, ballet necklines and a beautiful high-collared one that is kind of an ode to Audrey Hepburn. I did a white turtleneck dress for Shania [Twain], when she won all her Grammys [in 1994]. Everyone loved the simplicity of that so we did a lace version of [it],” Bouwer said. “Of course, I loved all Cecil Beaton’s costumes for ‘My Fair Lady’ so there is a touch of that. But I keep trying to keep it technical and modern.”