Although the number of nuptial ceremonies forecast for 2023 is expected to dip slightly from this year’s post-pandemic high, the wedding dress market remains white hot, as proven by the collections shown during New York’s Luxury Bridal Fashion Week.
Sex and sizzle in the form of flesh-baring has dominated the fashion conversation of late, but sometimes what is concealed can be just as, if not more titillating than, what is revealed. This season, designers diverted attention to the arm, choosing this appendage as their chosen canvas on which to unleash bold creative strokes.
Gloves — an accessory steeped in wedding-day etiquette — reigned, but unconventional materials and playful proportions similar to those spotted on the spring runways of Prabal Gurung, Simone Rocha and Bottega Veneta were used to buck tradition, further aligning trends in bridal with those in ready-to-wear.
London-based label Halfpenny, for example, offset the sweetness of a tulle mermaid gown with utilitarian-looking gloves more suited to construction work than a walk down the aisle. Elsewhere, Katherine Polk of Houghton went for kink, accessorizing many of the frocks from her size-inclusive line with slick latex pairs while Badgley Mischka gave brides in need of “something blue” the perfect opera-length option.
Eccentric sleeve treatments were equally plentiful. From billowy leg-of-mutton styles at Honor and Dana Harel to bell-shaped ones at Inbar Freiman, a whiff of Elizabethan flamboyance ran throughout that would enable these dresses to fit right in amid the collection of objects on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England.”
The Tudors knew architectural armwear could be useful when trying to leave a lasting impression. Sydney-based designer Christie Nicole agreed. “I feel a dramatic sleeve takes the design to that next level,” she said. For her most recent “Adele” collection, Nicole offered variations on the elasticated detachable sleeves that have become a signature, striking a chord with clients wishing for a customizable look. “I’m finding some brides love a sleeve to cover up and then others love it as a fashion statement.” Either way, she said, “My brides definitely take a risk.”