BARCELONA — If Pronovias has its way, delicate hand-embroideries, lace, sheer illusion overlays and especially flower-power will be key fashion trends for next year’s brides.
The Barcelona-based manufacturer’s two-day bridal presentation kicked off with a nighttime catwalk show in the Catalan National Art Museum’s Oval Room. Featuring 78 styles by resident designer and creative director Manuel Mota and Elie Saab, the only outsider line in Pronovias’ stable, dresses ranged from shapely fit-and-flare silhouettes to full-skirted gowns in layers of finely embroidered lace on tulle or chiffon with oversize flowers, petals, beading and mother-of-pearl trim, feathers, sleeves and a bevy of transparent cover-ups including boleros and a voluminous cape effect. There was not the suggestion of color.
Pronovias invited 1,400 specialty retailers — mainly established customers from the multinational’s vast global network — and 400 international fashion editors, regional politicians and socialites to its hometown May 11 and 12 for a preview of 2013. Buyers came from 54 countries, including Italy, which had the biggest retail contingent, the U.S. and Canada.
The following day, buyers placed orders at Barcelona’s Palau de Congressos where 235 bridal gowns and more than 100 cocktail/mother-of-the-bride dresses from Mota’s Fiesta line were on display. Retailers reported increased buying across the board.
“Elie [Saab] and Mota were spectacular; I’m passionate about both, so intricate and pretty, and, up close, they just talk to you,” exclaimed Lynn Harlow, owner of Promises and Lace in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. “I’m not going home without Elie. The brand is very, very special; it moves you and Manuel Mota really has a vision, his designs are front and center. I’ll absolutely be buying about 20 percent more [of the Mota line].”
Regarding trends, Harlow said, “There’s a real change; fabrics and neckline treatments are much softer, and they’re not all strapless for a change.”
Echoing other retailers, she said, “Today’s brides are looking for different, they don’t want sameness. Business is excellent and girls are still getting married and in some cases, they’re buying two dresses for the occasion. So far the two-dress customer is only 5 percent of volume but the trend is growing,” she concluded.
“I loved it. Pronovias is a high-profile brand. Brides are very familiar with the product; their price points are good and deliveries reliable. We buy both Pronovias’ core line and Manuel Mota and we’re never disappointed; they know what they’re doing,” said Lourdes Currie, owner of Couture Bridal Miami in Bal Harbour, Fla.
“Our brides are more mature and they’re looking for fit-and-flare silhouettes that show off their figure, and lace is big. I’ll be adding a few extra pieces this year,” she said.
“We’re looking for something different and that’s what Pronovias is all about. They create the fashion and this time, capes were the newest item,” said Karen Jones, owner of Gowns by Design in Mechanicsburg, Pa. “We have no customers asking for color, our brides are still into soft ivories and necklines with some sort of shape and we don’t sell a lot of big skirts. The majority are A-line or fit-and-flare.”
Her daughter and partner, Jennifer Martin, said, “Pronovias is passionate about their product; it’s not just about how many units you’re getting out the door. They’ve set the bar. On the other hand, there’s a Pronovias look our store does well with that I didn’t see, like the plain Dupioni, but they are a worldwide brand so there are bound to be things that don’t fit our market. They have to evolve, too, and they are still far and above the best,” she said, ticking off choice, quality and customer service “and my favorites were the overlays,” she added.
First-time buyer Aimée Pena, owner of Sweet Elegance Bridal in Decatur, Ga., said “Pronovias is doable fashion that allows a girl to have a designer look at a reasonable price — and not every bride can afford otherwise.”
Worldwide turnover for the bridal group totaled 150.3 million euros, or $193 million, last year with sales for 2012 expected to reach $230 million, or an increase of 19 percent. “We’re going to grow double-digit this year,” confirmed Borja Castresana, marketing director, “with an increased customer wholesale base of 30 percent. We opened 35 stores last year and by year’s end, we’ll open another 30. If 2011 was a record year, 2012 will be a double-record year with growth around 15-20 percent.”
Pronovias president Alberto Palatchi said the company’s key to success is “not complicated. It’s based on brand commitment, that’s fundamental; people and product commitment too, and, simply put, we want to be the world’s favorite bridal brand.”
As for Spain’s current economic crunch, “We are not affected because we buy there [China and elsewhere in Asia] and sell elsewhere [to 90 countries]. Only 5 to 6 percent — or 22 percent of volume — is made in Spain,” Palatchi said.
Pronovias closed Barcelona Bridal Week’s catwalk, a four-day event that ran May 8 to 11, featuring 17 runway shows with Catalan designer Rosa Clará one of the best. She sent out florals and feathers in sweet pastels and a beaded halter number on androgynous model Andrej Pejic.