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Saying “I do by Gail O’Neill

s CEO and president of Mark Ingram Atelier, an upscale bridal boutique located on New York City’s Park Avenue, Mark A. Ingram didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary from Bridal Fashion Week. And then came Naeem Khan’s Spring 2017 show. Khan, a master of beadwork and embroidery, presented a 23-piece collection. But sandwiched between his signature hand-embroidered organza flowers, petal appliqués and floralpatterned embellishments were two nontraditional silhouettes that took Ingram’s breath away. The first was a long-sleeved tunic over matching leggings. The second, an embroidered jumpsuit with plunging neckline. “My mouth was on the floor,” recalls Ingram, a 20-year veteran of bridal couture. “I was gasping for air!” Though Khan is at the vanguard of designers whose wedding wear is following the dictates of ready-towear, he is not alone. More and more, bridal design is mirroring the runway: offering elegant options for women who are less wedded to dreams of looking like princesses in ballgowns and more inclined to look like themselves on their wedding day. Same sex couples who prefer the freedom of pantsuits to the restrictions of mermaid skirts, corsets and trains are flocking to bespoke tailors like LES Downtown in Brooklyn. And fashion-forward brides who prefer to take their sartorial cues from 7th Avenue, as opposed to fairy tales, could not be more enchanted. “I could see many of my clients going for these looks,” says Ingram, who has a 70



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robust following among fashion editors in New York, Paris and London and brides-to-be from Europe, the Middle East and West Africa. “… if not for the wedding, then for the rehearsal dinner or after-party, for sure.” The editorial look is also favored by risk-takers like Solange Knowles, who famously arrived at her 2014 wedding ceremony in New Orleans astride a bicycle while wearing an ivory jumpsuit by Stephane Rolland. And then there are the trendsetters for whom more is more – who are saying “I do!” to pants while exchanging vows at City Hall or a registry before changing into a more traditional gown for an after-party or religious ceremony. Fortunately, the choices of what-towear are as varied as the brides themselves. This season alone, Christian Siriano channels flat-out romanticism with his ruffled, peplum tuxedo jacket over tailored white pants. Elie Saab’s Battenberg lace top paired with widelegged trousers and a barely-there belt nipping the waist evokes ’60s effortless chic. Lela Rose’s strapless tunic top (with oversized bow in back) over floor-grazing straight-legged pants epitomize Asian fusion dressing. And Carolina Herrera’s jumpsuit with Nehru collar, French cuffs and cropped pant with tulip vents is nothing short of a showstopper. The best way to balance the avantgarde look, says Atlanta-based makeup artist Alex Lucas, “is with an ethereal face. The look should be really soft with a strong brow, natural colored lips, a decent amount of mascara and lashes.” And for those not quite in step with the modern bride? A little smelling salts goes a long way! CHRISTIAN SIRIANO

Summer 2016  
Summer 2016