Gloria weddings | Nice day for a black wedding | (11/14/2011)

Is the tide turning for the traditional white wedding? As an increasing number of brides turn to the dark side, Karen Connolly looks at the trend for black wedding dresses.

It’s fair to say not many eyebrows were raised as I walked down the aisle on my wedding day.

The fact I was dressed from head to toe in black wouldn’t have sprung any surprises on the gathered throng. much less by my husband-to-be.

Black has been my colour of choice ever since I was allowed to select my own outfits and I am still automatically drawn to its rich, inky hues whenever I enter a clothes shop.

So it seemed fitting I should opt for black in favour of a white pavlova when I began searching for my wedding outfit.

That was 12 years ago and it looks like the trend for ‘and the bride wore black’ is now becoming ever more popular with brides tearing up the rule book on traditional wedding attire.

This week’s New York’s bridal fashion week was awash with ebony wedding gowns, courtesy of the grande dame of wedding dress designers, Vera Wang, who was behind the nuptial gowns of Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Lopez and Chelsea Clinton.

Wang’s catwalk show was awash with a collection of pitch black lace, organza and tulle and as sure as night follows day, such a strong style statement will trickle from the catwalk and into the church aisles before long.

Mind you, it appears brides in the north west bucked the trend for white or ivory in favour of black way before Wang put pen to sketch pad.

Dodie Todd, owner and designer of Dodie Designer Dressmaker in Sale says: “Last year I had a bumper year for black wedding dress orders.

“And it wasn’t just the younger brides who wanted something different. I had requests from brides of all ages. perhaps the designs differed with more mature brides, or those who’d been married before, going for something more subtle.

“The younger ones tended to want the full blown traditional gown in black, complete with layers of tulle, lace and net.

“You do find they leave out the black veil though, that would be too funereal altogether. Instead they go for crystal headresses which throw a flattering light onto the face.”

Dodie, who has been designing wedding dresses for 20 years, says black dresses have been requested again this year, along with a demand for more ‘theatrical’ designs.

She adds: “I think because brides can marry pretty much anywhere these days and are not restricted to a church, the wedding dress can be as over the top as they want.”

But while black is perhaps not for everyone, other leading wedding dress shops are reporting demands for the colour to make an appearance ‘somewhere’ on the outfits.

Paulette Entwistle is manager of her family’s business, Bridal Couture Italia of Bolton and says they stock quite a large selection of black gowns.

“We have recently sold a very dramatic floor, length halter-neck black wedding dress,” she says. the bride was a biker, as was her husband-to-be, and she wanted something that was in keeping with her usual style.

“She wore black biker boots underneath on her big day and the whole theme reflected the couple’s taste. the groom and best man wore leather jackets with skulls and crossbones on the back and the bridesmaids’ dresses were a rich, deep red.”

Paulette says her customers have changed their dress demands over the years, with white making a slow, but sure, exit.

“The traditionalists now plump for ivory,” she says, “but even then they tend to want a splash of colour somewhere.

“But black is definitely a popular choice now and if we don’t have a particular dress in stock, lots of brides wanting black will go for one of the black bridesmaids dresses instead.”

According to the experts, if black is the colour you want to get married in, then keep the fabric light. Nothing screams ‘angst-ridden teenager’ than swathes of heavy black velvet, opt for chiffon or tulle instead.

And bin the dramatic eyes and scarlet lips too unless you want to resemble Morticia Adams, instead go for something fresh and light.

Debs Hatfield, Manchester Arndale’s style advisor agrees and also offers this advice: “Personally, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to weddings and it’s the one time in your life that you should get the chance to wear all ivory or white.

“That aside, each to their own and wearing black for your wedding is definitely making a statement about the bride’s personality.

“It says ‘look at me’ in a fashion statement way rather than the demure, innocent connotations of wearing white.”

But Debs also says black can be a real ‘play safe’ option too.

“In everyday wear,” she says, “black is a classic look but can also bee seen as a safer option for those who have a fear of approaching colour.

“What colour the bride wears also does depend on the ceremony setting but I still feel white or ivory for church is more appropriate.”

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