Fortunately, 10 years have passed since the movie was first released, and things are looking up for style-starved maids. The bridal world now takes its cues from the runways, with fashion trends inspiring not only bridal designers but big brands and high-profile talents to create collections specifically for this lucrative market.
“The bridesmaid category has become a lot more exciting. When we started in 2011 bridesmaid dresses were very standardised and consisted of one fabric – usually chiffon – and a limited colour palette of pastels. Now designers and brides are borrowing trends from ready-to-wear and thinking outside the traditional box,” says Cecile Chen, founder of Trinity Bridal.
Take for example, Hong Kong bride Feiping Chang, whose storybook wedding in Capri was covered by high-profile publications such as Vogue. Instead of cookie-cutter bridesmaid gowns, she opted for various styles designed by friend and Self Portrait designer Han Chong.
“I knew I wanted my bridesmaids to wear white, which most people tend to shy away from. Together we chose a selection of styles that would fit each girl’s body as well as their personal style. So overall, the dresses looked consistent but each was something unique that they could also wear again,” says Chang.
While individuality is important for modern bridesmaids, so are trends. Many are experimenting with fun prints like the patchwork florals popularised by British designer Richard Quinn while silhouettes have transitioned from conservative Grecian styles to the more fashionable cold shoulder and off-the-shoulder looks. When it comes to colour, many brides tend to err on the side of caution and opt for pastels, but there is also a return to bold shades such as yellow and blue.
Location also plays a role in determining bridesmaid dresses. Traditional venues such as hotels are becoming less popular thanks to the emergence of destination weddings. Exotic, off-the-beaten track locales have allowed bridesmaids to do away with formal styles and opt for fun and fresh looks instead.
“I usually advise destination bridesmaids to mix and match dresses with varied and multi-dimensional aesthetics. Colour choices can also be more modern and include navy, dove grey or even black. Instead of a flowy dress, you can experiment with jumpsuits and more structured dresses which look more contemporary,” advises Jacqueline Au, founder and creative director of The Loft Bridal.
A demand for more modern styles has also meant that brides can explore beyond the usual stable of specialised brands and opt for creations by ready-to-wear fashion brands like Needle & Thread and Caroline Constans. While purchasing off-the-rack can be tricky when you have larger groups to dress, it still opens a whole new world of possibilities in terms of fashion choices.
“Popular brands include Self Portrait and Red Valentino for entry-level price point while Zimmerman is ideal for a summer garden party type wedding. Valentino, Rochas, Erdem all offer beautiful dresses that could work for a bridesmaid. For more traditional dresses, Elie Saab and Maria Lucia Hohan are great,” says Suzanne Pendlebury, buying manager at matchesfashion.com.
Another easy way to inject a modern touch to your bridesmaid look is through accessories such as jewellery, hair pieces and shoes, all of which add a touch of personality and an element of surprise.
“Sometimes when you follow runway trends the photos can look out of date after a few years. I would still keep the dress refined but play with jewellery, be it chunky bold pieces a la Celine or maximalist Gucci-style with layers of pearls and crystals. Even if you are stuck wearing a cookie-cutter dress, you are able to inject a bit of your own personality through accessories,” says Au.
A final note of caution to all bridesmaids. While looking good may be your top priority, it’s not necessarily the bride’s. Avoid a Pippa Middleton situation and keep your choices stylish yet discreet. Your big day will come eventually.
Spring/summer 2018 runway trends perfect for bridesmaids
Ruffles: Velvet dress (HK$3,500) by Self Portrait from Lane Crawford.
Vintage florals: Long patchwork dress (HK$499) from Zara.
Bold colours: Rope detail silk satin gown (HK$16,625) by Roksanda from matchesfashion.com.
Embellishments: Andromeda ruffled embellished tulle gown (HK$4,810) by Needle & Thread from Net-a-Porter.
Sheer: Rosetta lace dress (HK$5,500) from S.Nine by Susanna Soo.
Dressing for a theme can be tricky, especially when it’s the Met Gala—a night that has been dubbed the Oscars of fashion. But if there’s one person who can shine with the same ingenuity as in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s costume exhibition itself, it’s Sarah Jessica Parker. This year will mark Parker’s 10th turn down the 150-foot-long red carpet, and if history tells us anything, she’ll likely embrace the dress code, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” with her usual aplomb.
Such as was the case in 2006, when Parker arrived on the arm of Alexander McQueen wearing a one-shoulder tartan look by the late designer that was perfectly in step with the Anglomania of “Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion.” Parker left another lasting impression when she donned a two-tone duchesse satin gown to fete the Charles James exhibit in 2014. If there were any question as to who she was wearing, Parker had “Oscar de la Renta” embroidered in bold red cursive along her train.
Come 2013, when the ball highlighted the punk movement, Parker turned to Philip Treacy for a larger-than-life mohawk for a radical finish that complemented her brush-stroked Giles dress. The accessory was of such gargantuan proportions that Parker had to actually sit on the floor of the car en route to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She followed it up in 2015, the year that celebrated China’s influence in fashion, with an equally elaborate flame-inspired headdress to top off a custom H&M dress.
The look that hit closest to home came the next year, when Parker channeled Carrie Bradshaw in pedal pushers and a military-inspired coat designed by Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim of Monse. At the time, Garcia and Kim, who have since been appointed creative directors at Oscar de la Renta, were just beginning to make waves in the industry, and Parker’s endorsement all but confirmed their stars-in-the-making status. Parker added extra shine with blue satin Manolo Blahniks that looked as if they could have been a keepsake from her Sex and the City days.
While the actress was a no-show at 2017’s party of the year due to filming commitments for her HBO series Divorce, she’s surely been rehearsing her return ensemble for months. In the meantime, take a look back at Parker’s Met Gala evolution to see how she became one of the event’s most consistently best-dressed.
Below, a look at this and other awe-inspiring SJP fashion moments from the gala.
Met Gala 2015
The theme was ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ and SJP took a rebellious tack in with a flame-like headdress that she wore with a custom H&M ensemble, and the combination practically lit up the red carpet.
Met Gala 2014
Just as accustomed to making an entrance as she is to staging an exit, Parker left another lasting impression when she donned a two-tone duchesse satin stunner for the ‘Charles James: Beyond Fashion’ exhibition.
Met Gala 2013
The theme was ‘Punk: Chaos to Couture’ and at the party of the year, the actress called on Philip Treacy for a larger-than-life mohawk that required her to sit on the floor of the car on her ride over to the museum’s 1000 Fifth Avenue address.
Met Gala 2012
Taking a flowery and feminine look to the next level in Valentino, SJP arrived at the 2012 Met in a showstopper .The theme was “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.”
Met Gala 2011
In 2011, Sarah Jessica Parker was lucky enough to wear an archive look from Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2005 collection to the Met Gala where the theme was honoring Alexander McQueen, “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.”
Met Gala 2010
In 2010, SJP dazzled in a champagne Halston Heritage dress with accompanying accessories. The theme in 2010 was “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.”
Met Gala 2006
In 2006, SJP arrived on the arm of Alexander McQueen wearing a one-shoulder tartan frock by the late designer that felt perfectly in step with the Anglomania mood of “Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion.”
THE sun is shining and we’ve got that Friday feeling, which can only mean one thing…it’s time for your fashion fix!
This week, Fabulous Shopping Editor and celeb stylist Nana Achaempong (Instagram: @styledbynana) is giving you all the goss on this week’s most lust-worthy fashion…
This week George at Asda invited me to gorgeous Coworth Park hotel and spa to check out the George S/S ’18 homeware collection.
The question was, what to wear to such a fancy spot on what was going to be the hottest day of the year so far… I decided on this Topshop dress, which I have since discovered is a complete sell-out!
Polka dots are a huge S/S ’18 trend and were spotted on the catwalks of Valentino, MM6 Maison Margiela and Self Portrait to name just a few.
The dress in question has been spotted – excuse the pun – on many influencers and celebrities, which led to it flying off the shelves nationwide.
And the super-affordable £49 price tag helps too!
But don’t fear, there are plenty of other fantastic polka dot dresses on the high street you can still get your hands on that will be ideal for pretty much any occasion – weddings, the races, brunch with the girls or, in my case, a fancy spa hotel!
Never one to miss a trick, Zara have embraced the polka dot trend
- Tan polka dot dress, £25.99 from Zara
H&M’s polka dot dress is perfect for a warm summer evening
- White polka dot dress, £49.99 from H&M
- Black polka dot dress, £29 from Topshop
Celeb Crush: BEYONCE. QUEEN B. BEY.
Now while I’m sure your Instagram feed was overloaded with Coachella pics last weekend, it would be a crime not to mention the insane performance that Beyoncé delivered in the desert.
What wasn’t there to love about her 100+ strong dancers and marching band, hubby Jay-Z, sister Solange and my faves Kelly and Michelle, who came on stage for a mini Destiny’s Child reunion?
Everyone’s outfits were designed by Balmain and looked epic!
Nearly a week later, I’m still obsessing over everything about Bey’s performance.
My so-called fashion life…
On a bit of a whim/New Year New Me moment, in January I signed up for the Hackney half marathon on May 20.
I’ve been documenting my training on Insta Stories and talking about it pretty much non-stop to anyone kind enough to listen.
With the race date fast approaching, I was beyond excited when ASOS asked me to attend a 3K fun run to celebrate the new Nike flyknit racer trainers.
Held at the most Instagram-worthy cafe in east London, Palm Vaults, guests were not only treated to a brand-new pair of Nike trainers for the run, but we also had matcha tea on tap, plus avo on toast and vegan banana bread for breakfast – yum!
After a really inspiring talk from the ASOS and Nike panel, we headed off for our 3k run. The trainers are super-comfy and look great (millenial pink, anyone?), plus it was so much fun running in a group that I’ve decided to join a running club.
Having stylish workout gear is a great motivator for actually getting in some exercise – that or you can just look chic doing the weekly shop.
So here are some of my favourite brands to work out in.
- Leggings, £60 from Bjorn Borg
- Sports bra, £22 from ASOS 4505
Hot off the press…
If you haven’t heard the new H&M collaboration news, you must have been off Instagram for a week.
But I’m here to fill you in! At the annual Moschino Coachella Party, the high street store announced their new designer collab would be with none other than, you guessed it, Moschino!
Jeremy Scott presented model pal Gigi Hadid, dressed in a small preview of what we can expect.
It doesn’t launch until November 8 (sob!) but mark it in your diaries now!
Thought the $5.8 billion global wearable technology market was all about wristbands? Wrong.
Pauline Van Dongen is one of Europe’s leaders in the field and says the future is about so much more than your smartwatch.
Apple fans may be “stuck in a device paradigm”, but cutting-edge innovators are all about the potential of smart clothes, the designer explains.
“The next transition is to embed technology into textiles, like we do in our studio, and to look at the materials from a material and aesthetic point of view, not only from a functional perspective.”
Big brands are climbing on board
In Europe, fashion houses like Britain’s CuteCircuit and Berlin’s ElektroCouture have forged ahead of this curve. Now, big tech businesses have started taking note too (in recent years Google has made a smart jacket with Levi’s, while Samsung designed its own NFC suit).
And it’s Pauline Van Dongen’s studio in the Netherlandsthat’s breaking boundaries for some of the world’s most prominent brands.
It has worked with everyone from the $28.9 billionelectronics giant Philips to fast-growing non-latex condom company Skyn, a line that belongs to the $600 million Lifestyles Healthcare—and many publically undisclosed brands too.
Van Dongen projects typically cost from €2,000 to €100,000 (around $2,500–$123,000), with many often being run at the studio at the same time.
“By creating these projects, we generate a lot of value, whether that’s actual products partners can sell, insights into new materials and processes, or PR value,” says the designer.
As you might expect, some of Van Dongen’s many groundbreaking designs have sprung from partnerships with existing fashion innovators.
For example, last year, the studio worked with Italdenim, a sustainable jeans pioneer founded in 1974 in Arconate, a small village near Milan.
“I particularly wanted to work with denim fabric because it’s a material that everyone can identify with – everyone has a piece of denim in their wardrobe,” Van Dongen says of the collaboration.
Motivated by a desire to make technology “more human” and “mindful”, the studio developed Issho: a jacket that uses senses if you’re constantly reaching for your phone, and gives a physical response back to the wearer.
“The jacket talks to you by giving you a gentle stroke on your upper back, inviting you to be more in the present moment,” Van Dongen explains.
The studio has also worked with sustainable Dutch fashion retailer Blue Loop Originals to create a solar-powered windbreaker. It’s today worn by tour guides of Germany’s Wadden Sea Society to help them stay charged and better assist their visitors.
“It invites you to go outside and be in the sunshine to harness your own energy,” says Van Dongen.
Quite evidently, technology brands also have much to offer to the booming wearable textiles scene too. And it was Philips’ understanding of the world of electronics that supercharged Van Dongen’s Mesopic and Phototrope sportswear designs.
Disappointed by her own experience of running at night with a “ridiculous” light-up bracelet, the designer worked with Philips to come up with a savvier solution.
In its latest form, the studio’s light-up jerseys even include interactive controls to allows sports trainers to alter light colors and enable specific games and activities.
“Our tops integrate lighting from a functional perspective, but also as a new type of aesthetic, just like we’d use any other kind of material,” Van Dongen explains.
“It creates playfulness,” she adds.
With such a wide range of companies keen to explore wearables, choosing who to collaborate with can be a challenge, but the Pauline Van Dongen studio won’t be “misled” by money, says its founder.
And—as long as Van Dongen believes in the creative integrity of a project—no area is off-limits.
Indeed, the studio jumped at the opportunity to work with condom company Skyn, where it explored how the business’s latex-free materials could benefit athletes.
“Of course we wanted to avoid created a ‘condom suit’,” says Van Dongen. “That was one of the bigger challenges, not to make something that would look silly and make people laugh.”
The designer succeeded, instead creating an impressive outfit with aerodynamic flaps that open to give long jump athletes extra time in the air.
Partnerships that empower
Many more of Van Dongen’s projects are socially-motivated.
One collaboration with the Dutch wearable business Elitac saw the creation of the FysioPal top: a garment that not only records data around back posture, but uses small vibration motors to give haptic feedback to correct it.
Similarly, the studio’s Vigour cardigan—a collaboration with Technical University Eindhoven, Martijn ten Bhömer and Textile Museum Tilburg—is about empowering the elderly.
Made of soft Merino wool, it has sensors that help those with Alzheimer’s or Dementia convey their activity levels to healthcare workers.
“Our garments are already on our bodies, what’s a more intimate way to communicate that via skin?” Van Dongen asks.
The future of fashion
Today, if you’re dreaming of slipping into one of Van Dongen’s posture correcting cardigans, light-up tops, or solar-powered coats, you might struggle to track one down: at present, the studio largely relies on its partners to bring Van Dongen concepts to market.
But that could be about to change. And Van Dongen says her studio may set up its own sales channel “in the near future.”
To really move the market, however, far greater cross-industry collaboration is needed between designers, manufacturers, brands and technologists, says Van Dongen: “Otherwise we’re all stuck on our own little islands without building upon each of our expertise.”
Are you ready for futures wearables without a wristband in sight?
TRUST Vetements and the brand’s cultish cool to tackle the touchy subject of overproduction heads on. Launching today, four of Harrods’ store windows on Brompton Road will be dedicated to the Swiss label’s call for action. “We have the luxury of being a young, independent brand, which has the opportunity to speak out without being afraid of powerful backers,” its CEO Guram Gvasalia says over coffee in the suite of his Mayfair hotel. “The problem with sustainability today is that people look at it from the wrong perspective. Yes, where you produce and how you produce is super important. But what people are overseeing is something that’s right in front of our eyes: it’s about how much brands produce and how much consumers buy,” the 31-year-old brother of Vetements’ creative director Demna Gvasalia argues. “Since my first-ever interview I’ve been saying this: the basic thing of economics is the supply meeting demand. If you go to a shop and you see something on sale, it means it’s been overproduced.”
Over the past year, Vetements has been highlighting issues of overconsumption, staging waste-focused events at Maxfield in Los Angeles, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, and Browns East in London. “But in this age, doing something once or twice isn’t enough. Our phone screens refresh so quickly that our attention spans have shrunk,” Gvasalia quips. He’s devoted the next twelve months to shining a light on the issue of overproduction with plans of fifty events worldwide starting with the windows at Harrods. Unveiled to the public this morning, they feature stockpile installations of clothes donated by Harrods’ four-thousand employees as well as original Parisian donation bins for charity, a regular occurrence on Instagram due to the “Vetements” logo featured on their fronts (simply meaning ‘clothes’). Throughout February, Harrods’ customers are invited to donate their own garments, the proceeds of which go to the NSPPC.
Gvaslia, who has been working on the projects for over a year, says he approached all the big fashion brands asking them to donate their stock. “Nobody wanted to take part. Not a single brand; really huge corporations. Everyone is afraid of admitting that they make more clothes than they can sell.” He spends his year travelling the world, trawling through department stores and boutiques, analysing the stock on display at various points of the season. “I find it particularly hard travelling in the United States during the sale, seeing all these luxury items on extreme discount,” he says. “There are mountains and mountains of clothes that were overproduced. Part of it is sold with huge markdowns, but what’s left becomes dead-stock. Statistically, thirty percent of what brands produce ends up in landfills. Garbage.”
What needs to change, Gvasalia explains, is the pride of the biggest companies in fashion, whose reported gross turnovers can only increase if they sell more merchandise. “At the end of the day, you only have a certain amount of people, who are actually willing to buy your clothes. No matter what you do, this number is limited. So instead, they have their own stores that they force their merchandise upon, just so they can increase their numbers.” In other words, the annual figures reported in designer interviews and reviews shouldn’t always be taken for granted. Nor should they necessarily be a source of pride. “For brands to become more sustainable today, they need to do one simple thing: have their supply meet their demand. It’s like throwing away food in a world full of hunger. Our planet is sick because of us, because we want more and more and more, without thinking of generations to come,” he reflects. And it goes for the customer, too. “Try to think, ‘Do I need all these clothes?’”
Gvasalia isn’t a big shopper himself. On this day – as any – he’s clad in his trusty uniform of all-blacks: jeans, a T-shirt and a hoodie. His wardrobe can be counted on a few hands, and whenever he acquires a new item of clothing he donates an old one to a relative. Asked if he publicises Vetements’ turnovers he rolls his eyes. “Of course not. It’s not the main goal. The goal is to create amazing clothes for people who want to buy them.” How do he and his designer brother take responsibility, then? “First of all we don’t have our own stores. Secondly, we don’t push stores with minimums. We’ve started to limit quantities,” Gvasalia says, admitting he sometimes puts a stop to buyers when they try to buy stock beyond their customer demand. “Of course, there are buyers that are amazing. Natalie Kingham bought 250 of our unicorn hoodies,” he says, referring to the buying director of MatchesFashion.com, “and they were gone in a day. But some buyers put debts on pieces that are just insane.”
What of all those coveted, perpetually sold-out it-items we hear about, then? “What brands do – which is very smart – is to limit the online stores, giving one store maybe forty pairs of the hottest sneaker. So of course it sells out,” Gvasalia explains. “I sold four-thousand pairs of sneakers on Ssense.com in four days, but this is not my goal anymore. It breeds greed. I’m not chasing numbers. I don’t need my company to be worth a billion. You can make money like that much more easily outside of fashion.” It’s perhaps an easy thing to say for the owner of a brand like Vetements, which sky-rocketed in sales just a year into their existence, in 2014, shifting hoodies at £600 and denim trousers – sustainably made out of recycled jeans, by the way – at £1200. “Our stuff is expensive because it’s limited,” Gvasalia asserts. “But then people go and buy the high street items that look like our work. I want to tell people: buy less, buy quality and buy long term.”
Last year, Vetements relocated their studios from Paris to Zurich in a move interpreted by some as tax conscious. Gvasalia begs to differ. “We moved the company to Switzerland because I wanted to protect myself from an industry I feel is toxic and wrong. I don’t want to be distracted by the wrong business strategies. I moved the company because I wanted to be left alone in a world where we can operate without distractions.” So there. Vetements, of course, stills show in Paris, like in January when the brothers borrowed an old flea market free of charge and invited guests to watch the show – styled in copious layers as a reflection of overconsumption – from market chairs already in place. “My show was completely sustainable,” Gvasalia nods. He says his commendable outlook is the result of age, of running a growing business, but also rooted in a childhood of extremes
In the early 1990s, the brothers and their family fled their native Abkhazia amidst the Georgian civil war. “When you see stuff as six years old that I don’t even want to share as public knowledge, you start to appreciate life. You start to understand that if you have to cancel a T-shirt because of a minimum, you don’t have to care. It’s not the end of the world,” Gvasalia says, raising his eyebrows. “I appreciate life because I know that things can change in one second.”