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    Categories: Entertainment

Here comes the bride!

A model walks the runway during the Bridal Show at Northlands.

Bridal gowns are designed to take your breath away and the 2016 couture collections certainly create a red-carpet A-list look.

For the thousands of brides that attended the 35th annual Bridal Fantasy on Jan. 10 at Edmonton Expo Centre, the focal point was a one-hour runway show.

It was a sheer delight of beautiful bare backs, jeweled necklines, lace bodices, delicate waist detailing and trains of varying lengths.

Variety was the name of the game. There was a myriad of visions from fairytale princess dresses to more sensuous provocative silhouettes to the elegant rustic look.

Princess. Angel. Diva. Nature goddess. Every bride’s dream dress was paraded and each presented a specific allure that made a statement.

Styles ranged from the classic A-line, the sleek body-hugging sheath and voluminous ball gown to the more dramatic mermaid, trumpet and fit-and-flare designs. There was even a smart white pantsuit with a halter neckline.

Speaking of necklines, the lush strapless and plunging sweetheart necklines continued their popularity while the straight across bateau neckline returned with a reminder of the elegant, crisp Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy era.

Several boutiques mentioned the two-piece was an up-and-coming trend for 2016. Styles are either a fitted bodice overlapping the skirt’s waist or a crop top displaying a hint of skin. The latter is ideal for casual or destination weddings.

“For a lot of brides the two-piece is more versatile. You can buy one top and two skirts – a more sophisticated skirt for the ceremony and a more relaxed one for the dance,” said Bridal Boutique owner Lilian Bowdring.

She also added that lace has been high in demand for the past decade and brides continue to gravitate toward the dainty fabrication. While there are many weights, textures and colours, she prefers ordering designs using intricate Venetian lace.

Over at The Bridal House and Tuxedo House, owner Natalie Duhaime-Bartlett stocks about 400 dresses. Among the 10 collections in stock, most brides gravitate towards Alfred Angelo, Allure, Maggie Sottero and Pronovias.

At the top is Maggie Sottero, a design house with impeccable styling and an incomparable fit. Each and every gown is exquisitely feminine whether it’s a striking satin sheath embellished with sequins, or a tulle and organza ball gown sparkling with a Swarovski crystal encrusted bodice.

“Maggie Sottero revolutionized the course of backs. The backs have this beautiful lace and it gives an amazing fit. Overall these dresses run from the traditional to the super modern and edgy. Everything is about layering in fabric. The sky is the limit,” says Duhaime-Bartlett.

Another favourite is the Florida-based, family owned Alfred Angelo, a company that has created bridal couture for 80 years.

“Brides like them because they have the licensing rights to the Disney princess collection. They’ve been around a long time. They are very good. The dresses are well made, they’re modern and the price point varies.”

On the other hand, Barcelona’s Pronovias bridal collection produces captivating dresses that flatter the figure for classic and romantic brides as well as the thoroughly modern, self-assured woman.

Pronovias’ philosophy is that every bride wants to tell her story and every dress will create those moments of pure magic.

“They have a very European look. The dresses have incredible lace, soft tulles and chiffons. They are an entity on to themselves.”

And finally, Allure Bridals is attractive in large part because their three divisions provide a wide selection in style and price point. In an effort to furnish every bride with a dream dress, Allure focuses a strong attention to detail.

“A lot of what they do is about fashion and fit.”

At Bridal House, most gowns cost from $1,000 to $4,000. An interesting trend that may or may not take hold is white bridesmaid dresses.

“For several hundred dollars a bride can buy a bridesmaid dress if budget is an issue.”

As for bridesmaids, the matchy-matchy look has finally crumbled and designers are creating outfits that have repeat use.

This year’s palette ranges from blush, soft rose, peach, muted blue, pale gray, oyster, buttercup yellow and navy – all hues borrowed from the 2016 Pantone’s spring fashion colour report.

In past decades, grooms were often viewed solely as the cavalier escort to the belle of the ball. Fortunately, attitudes have changed. With it has come a surge of fresh styles for men that not only reflect formal wedding attire, but also a more causal street style.

Today’s tuxedo shops point towards a slim fit constructed from lightweight fabric for comfort and Ă©lan. While the black James Bond tux accented with shiny lapels, a white shirt and bow are a sophisticated choice, there are many alternatives in navy, grey and all-white.

“Grey is one of the bigger shades and so is navy,” Duhaime-Bartlett noted.

Although Milan designers have lately incorporated soft metallic fabric in men’s tuxes and suits, the majority of Alberta men stay away from them.

“They tend to stick to the classy and sophisticated. A bigger priority for the groom is trying on crazy colourful socks with fun patterns.”

In Duhaime-Bartlett’s experience, grooms are also particular about ties and bow ties – especially bow ties.

“Bow-ties are a big deal. A classic bow-tie is very formal, but now you can have a bow-tie in any colour.”

For both bride and groom, the selections are vast and daunting. Duhaime-Bartlett has a few simple words of advice to make the process easier.

“It doesn’t need to be stressful. Don’t bring a lot of people when you come in – just who you trust. Bring people that are super close. Remember, they are there to support you.”

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.