All Bridesmaid Gowns Are Not Created Equal

Interestingly, the strapless  trend  (you know, the one that has been lingering around bridal gowns a bit too long) has not had much affect on bridesmaid gowns. Bridesmaid gowns have gone from bad (in the 1970’s) to horrible (1980’s) and then slowly back to good. The early years of the last decade of the 20th century (1991 & 1992) seemed to bring us what we had been searching for… tasteful dresses that look good, made of nice fabrics that can be (dare I say?) worn again. It seemed to happen overnight, designers began producing bridesmaid gowns that were flattering and affordable and since then, bridesmaids everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief.

That doesn’t solve all the problems since all women are not created equal, some are created ample and some gowns just don’t look good on everyone. So how do you decide on which gown for your nearest and dearest friends when you want them all to look good? When it comes to selecting bridesmaid gowns you only have a couple of choices:

All the same. Same color, same style no matter what.  Best friend is a size 4 and sister is a size 22? Same dress. You have your style laid out and this dress is perfect. You  can make it work. Best bet: Only look at gowns that come in a wide range of sizes and avoid anyting too exposing if you have a larger bridesmaid. 

Same Color, different dress. Give your bridesmaids a choice of which gown to choose as long as they are the same color. T his works well only when you limit the choices to those offered by the same company. Otherwise the color may vary and the fabric may be incompatible, causing it to show up completely different in photos.

There are pros and cons of either but,  haven been given the option of both at various points in my life, the latter option seems to work the best and is also the most popular among brides and their maids. Everyone is happy and comfortable and gets to select a gown she looks good in and feels good wearing. It also takes into account that a larger women will not be comfortable wearing the same thing as a smaller woman. Most importantly it gives everyone the opportunity to have a gown they love and if the planets are aligned properly….wear again.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Show Me The Sleeve!

In case you didn’t hear, there was a celebrity wedding last weekend. Not just any celebrity but, a  celebrity (?) who has 5 million twitter followers and has the rare  opportunity to change fashion. My hope was to  steer bridal fashion away from the bare shoulders which have completely dominated the first decade of the 21st century, sliding into the second decade still in first place. The Kardashian wedding had more security than a NATO conference and most of it was to ensure that no one took pictures and leaked anything in fear Mom Kardashian (Jenner) could not collect her 10% from the reported $18 million profit so, the only photo currently available  shows nothing but bare shoulders and a diamond (not swarovski) headband and veil. We’ll get back to the headband in a moment.

Maybe I missed something but, the one Vera Wang gown I saw (and the grainy photo of the bridesmaids) looked completely strapless. Wedding gown? Strapless. Bridesmaids? Strapless. Mermaid, ball gown, pencil skirt, satin, tulle or beaded –  it doesn’t really matter since what I was looking for was something with a little more style and coverage. Let me clear this up once and for all: I am not a prude. I don’t have any religious convictions that prohibit me or anyone from exposing their shoulders in church or during a religious ceremony. I don’t particularly care if someone wants to go topless, strapless or completely see-through. My (strong) opinions on this subject are strictly from a design standpoint. Strapless has been done to death and it has quite frankly become boring. Show me something with some style and class and couture detail, show me something other than your boobs! Don’t even get me started on how  few women really look good in strapless, especially larger busted or heavier women. Two words that should never enter your mind at a wedding: Backfat and Sideboob.

Last spring we witnessed Katherine Middleton become the Duchess of Cambridge in a Long sleeved lace gown. Her gown, no matter how beautiful, did not seem to make a bit of difference to designers. Last weekend Kim Kardashian had the opportunity  to  leave an indelible mark on fashion history, to send designers rushing back to the proverbial  drawing board in a  mad dash before next month’s Spring bridal market.  If the small photo I saw is any indication, I doubt if anyone is scrambling.  Maybe one of the other two gowns has some standout quality that I haven’t seen yet and I am completely wrong about the whole thing. I guess we will see when the pictures come out in People magazine.

Back to theheadband:  just like the strapless gown, the tiara seems to have run its course so it was nice to see somthing unique. The headband was unusual because it didn’t exactly frame the face – it was sitting in the middle of it. Unusual? Yes, and no. I’ve seen this before, many times but not for some time. This style was quite popular in the 1980’s and was often accented by a large teardrop shaped stone ( pearl or crystal) in the center. Of course back then it was flanked by dozens of yards of veiling with huge poufs of veiling in varying sizes scattered with sequins, crystals, pearls and everything but the kitchen sink. This was a  version of that and perhaps could inspire brides to revert back to this style. Of course most brides can’t afford $10 million dollars worth of bling. I wouldn’t place any bets on this since sometimes styles  find their place in history and stay there, like the fluorescent, bubble, lame bridesmaid gowns. They made sense in the ’80’s but not so much now and anyone who would dare to bring them back would be banished into bridesmaid hell…. for all eternity. My opinion? The headband was okay but looked costume-y and would have made perfect sense with Grecain style gown or a vintage 1920’s look. With the strapless gown (from  the limited amount I saw) it looked like a wedding scene from the early days of Dynasty. Actually Dynasty seems tame compared to the Kardashian /Jenner production.

So what does all this mean? Actually nothing. Not one thing has changed since Kate or Kim got married and even though a few designers are challenging the  strapless trend (Kudos) it will take the consumers to force the trend to change. I am excited to see what the designers have in store for the upcoming market since I have inside information that there are a few designers offering non-strapless choices. Hopefully instead of cleavage, we can talk  about sleeve-age.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Reality Royalty – Kardashian Wedding Tomorrow!

I have stated repeatedly how much I adore weddings. I love them all! Casual, Destination, City Hall, Black Tie. So, it is no surprise that tomorrow I will be checking the news and most likely the E! Channel for details about the  Kardashian wedding extravaganza.

I have seen bits of all of the Kardashian reality shows. I have formed opinions about people I don’t know at all firsthand and my overall take is that of all the Kardashian women (and there are plenty), Kim is the most likely to appease her high-maintenance mom by doing  whatever it takes to turn this multi-million dollar wedding into a profit and not a loss. You’ve gotta love that!  Make no mistake, actually ‘keeping up’ with the Kardashian’s will be impossible after this.

The good news is that in an injured economy, this young bride has had the good fortune to be able to energize the wedding industry in America. Kate who? Kim Kardashian sees herself as America’s Princess and is not only having her cake, she will most likely be eating it on camera and getting paid to do so. Kudos Kim. The wedding industry will most likely see a surge in copycat products and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone hasn’t already approached her to endorse one of the products she has chosen for the big day.

More good news is that after seeing the wax likeness of Miss K that was unveiled yesterday in wedding attire, the gown on the display was not strapless. Not to say that KK does not look good in just about everything she wears, because she does. I am just looking forward to seeing a fresh new style emerge and hopefully a little less ‘sideboob’. Designers have been chipping away at the all strapless collections since Miss Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge in her Sarah Burton gown last Spring and this could push them even further away from the cleavage chasm. Vera Wang, who epitomized the style for Brides in the 1990’s could once again define what an entire generation of brides will pay anything to have.

It is reported that Kim K has three gowns, each Vera Wang and each costing a whopping $25,000 but, has not decided which one she will wear. It is also not entirely unlikely that she will wear one for the ceremony and one for the reception which seems to be a popular trend. Personally, I would like to see her wear all three. Why not? This entire wedding is being filmed for a two hour special and I think she has every right to wear all three gowns. There is some speculation she will wear a bold color since all guests have strict instructions to wear black or white. Wearing white to a wedding is usually a no-no since you don’t want to take away from the bride. I think the speculation is correct and my  guess is she will wear a pink gown, not too pale but, not too bold. The color we used to call ‘Rum Pink’  in the 1980’s when pink bridal gowns first became a popular choice for creative fashionistas. Or perhaps a lighter shade of the same color known as ‘Blush Pink’.

The cake is a copy (exact?) of Will & Kate’s 10 layer confection made by Hansen’s Bakery topped with chocolate chip frosting. The Hansen family has been making cakes since  1520 and offers everything from Old World to High Tech. After visiting their website, I could almost taste the cakes. No offense to the royal couple, I hope (for the guest’s sake) this one is not a fruitcake.

Make no mistake; although this is a wedding and family event, it is also a highly profitable television franchise. There is not one thing that has not been handled expertly; the invitations, the  security, no cell phones or cameras or electronic devices allowed, including the 50+ person crew that will be filming. No tweeting, posting or leaking information unless it is accidentally (intentionally) leaked by a member of the family.  And also – no wire hangers!

The best part of the entire show (wedding) for me will be Bruce Jenner’s actions and reactions to all of this Pomp and the ensuing circumstances. If my prediction is correct there will be a lot of sticker shock for the former Olympian who was raised in a much more humble environment but also a great deal of pride as he walks her down the aisle and watches his entire family come together for a celebration of  love. And ultimatley, that is what it is all about!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Oscars 2011 – Best Dressed

No, it wasn’t just you, the Oscars were little odd this year. It was as if there was a huge inside joke that everyone knew and as everyone waited for the punch line with great anticipation ……. it never came. However, this years fashions did not disappoint. 

 I loved seeing Tim Gunn on the red carpet. This is exactly where he belongs. He asks all the right questions  and he saves the acting talk for the interviewers with bigger chops.  I have been tuning in since I was a small girl merely to see what the stars will be wearing so,  the red carpet is my favorite part of the show!

Penny’s Picks for  best dressed:

Mila Kunis – The biggest shocker of the night for me was how much I loved this Elie Saab couture gown. The only reason so many design elements (lace, ruffles, draped chiffon, blouson top) work on this gown is because it was constructed impeccably, like a work of art. Every fold, every drape, every small lace ruffle is sewn to perfection.  Mila made every one’s top ten list in this designer gown, and the top of my top ten list. Surprised? Me, too!

Natalie Portman – Although I feel she lost it in the accessory department (hello, beaded tassels?), the purple Rodarte gown looked magnificent and comfortable enough for the mom-to-be to carry home a  small statuette and a  bun in the oven. 

Anne Hathaway – Most critics were all over her red Valentino gown, accusing the star of wearing her window treatments, etc. I disagree for two reasons – the fit was perfect and it was pure Valentino couture.  In addition, each and every gown that she wore during her multiple costume changes was A+ with the exception of the midnight blue Versace. I thought it fell flat.

Gyyneth Paltrow – Again, I disagree with most critics. Her gown was sleek, cool and totally retro. She was not nominated and was there to look good. She did!

Sharon Stone – Carried off  the Black Swan theme to perfection in this one-shouldered Christian Dior gown, regardless off how the critics slammed her smoky eyes. I thought she looked magnificent for a woman of any age.

Jennifer Hudson -Was a vision in Versace. The tangerine color looked marvelous with her skintone and the fit was unbelievable. The side drape and fitted bodice showed off her stunning slim physique.  In all fairness, she was stunning when she won her own Oscar and was much heavier. *Memo to her stylist – “make sure the cleavage is the same color as the chest.”

Mandy Moore – Her Monique Lhullier gown was breathtaking. The fit and the detail  of this champagne/nude gown reminds us that this little girl is all grown up and also that Monique Lhullier can do no wrong. Her bridal gowns are equally as impressive.

Hailee Stanfield – Also wow’d the crowd in her champagne/ nude creation by Marchesa. She opted for a fuller, ballerina-length skirt which is extremely flattering and appropriate for a young woman at the age of 14.

Sandra Bullock – America’s sweetheart proves once again that she can  look red hot on the red carpet with this  amazing red Vera Wang gown. But, we already knew that. Her makeup and accessories were  toned down leading me to believe that she and her stylist agreed -when you look this good in this gown, you don’t need any extra help.

 Hilary Swank – This Gucci Premiere couture gown is pure Hollywood glamour. Hand sewn crystals,  ostrich feathers – who knew this much detail could be so sexy?  Grey is not an easy color to wear but,  Ms. Swank pulls it off effortlessly.

Celine Dion – She had twins? In this simple, fitted Armani Prive gown it is hard to imagine she has given birth to one child, much less three.  The slim fitting gown had an absolutely perfect fit for her, the horizontal darts accentuated her toned physique and the only detail on the gown (other than the silk shantung fabric) was a small band that seemed to help the gown curve perfectly over her bust-line.  Was it just me or did this necklace remind anyone else of the gargantuan blue diamond stunner she wore when she sang the theme from Titanic?

Tune in tomorrow for my picks for the Worst Dressed at the 2011 Oscars. In the mean time, you can click  on this link  to view Bridal Expo’s very own red carpet couture runway show!  http://www.bridalshowexpo.com/fos_video_bride.html?PHPSESSID=c2893cac5707631701337f218a200fd2

 – Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago