BARCELONA — In Spain, brides are big business.

The second-largest exporter of bridal dresses after China, Spain shipped 13.8 percent more gowns last year than in 2012 — valued at 436 million euros, or $600.3 million at current exchange, according to figures released by the Barcelona-based Textile and Apparel Information Center.

“The bridal sector is one of the brightest spots in the recovering Spanish economy,” said Miquel Serrano, director of Barcelona Bridal Week, which ran May 6 to 11 in the Gran Via 2 fairgrounds here.

“There are two parts to Bridal Week,” he explained, “Designers’ catwalk shows [22 of them] running in tandem with the trade fair, which is made up of 200 brands, half of which are international.” The dual event — stretching over 323,000 square feet — was expected to draw upwards of 16,000 visitors, 60 percent of whom were from overseas. First-time organizer Fira Barcelona doubled its foreign buyer investment program based on exhibitors’ lists of potential clients, Serrano said. He ticked off target countries like Italy, France, Germany and the U.K. in Europe, as well as the U.S., Russia, China, Brazil and Latin America. “The strength of the bridal sector here is the made-in-Spain image of high quality and handwork,” he concluded.

The runway highlights included Rosa Clará’s references to Hollywood icons Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn in a ladylike collection that featured fine laces, floral embroideries and sheer back treatments. Clará has a retail presence in 60 countries.

Fast making a name for itself, YolanCris showed its signature boho chic in short and long dresses with high-textured, spacey crochet and transparencies. Reportedly, the Barcelona-based label plans a fall runway presentation in New York.

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