With the growing pressure to find the “perfect” wedding gown, sometimes brides can lose sight of finding something that is more classic versus something that is popular or overly trendy. But how does one know what the classic wedding dress looks like? With so many styles, silhouettes, fabrics and embellishments, you might think that is near impossible to pinpoint a classic style.
We interviewed bridal designer, Anne Barge, for her expertise on how to find a dress that is classic to your own personal style while still being consistent with a specific time period and that you won’t regret in years to come. The designer’s lovely advice is accompanied by gorgeous gowns from her Fall 2016 Collection below.
What is currently trending?
Some of the trends we are seeing today are good and some are not. I adore vintage-inspired lace á la Kate Middleton... Appliqués and three dimensional embellishments are definitely of-the-moment and we’ve loved incorporating them in our past few collections.
How can brides avoid picking a gown that is simply ‘on trend’? How can they be sure that it won’t just go out of style?
Extreme trends tend to go out of style as quickly as they come in. I think brides can be modern without running the risk of becoming dated by choosing classic silhouettes that suit them. Of course you want guests to be looking at your dress, but what you really want them to see is you. I’m careful not to let the trends define our collections for this exact reason.
What fabrics are timeless?
Silk Mikado, Silk Satin, Faille, Organza, Crepe, Tulle, Jacquard, Charmeuse...
What styles are timeless?
Silhouettes: Princess, A-line, Ballgown, Fitted and Flared
Necklines: Strapless, Jewel, Sabrina, cowl, off the shoulder
Sleeves: cap, ¾ sleeve, long & fitted.
To veil or not to veil?
Absolutely! In most cases, I prefer long. I love the idea of passing down a veil as a family heirloom. Brides don’t wear their mother’s dresses the way they used to, but a family veil could be just as sentimental.
What heels are timeless?
Beautiful heels work in all heights, but comfort is a MUST!
What period of gowns were the most inspirational?
My favorite fashion period of late is around the 1910s-1920s.... think Downtown Abbey.
How can brides make sure they incorporate this period into their gown?
Accessories! The style of gowns during this time period would have to be tweaked for today’s modern bride. Vintage accents like antique lace, heirloom jewelry or large bouquets of orange blossoms are all wonderful.
What is the common mistake made by brides picking their gown and making sure they will still love it in years to come?
Some brides take too many people shopping and have a hard time staying focused on themselves.... A bride stands a much better chance of making the right decision when she has no more than one person accompanying her.
What timeline should brides keep in mind when going through the process of looking, ordering and altering their gown?
A bride should allow at least six months for the process, and preferably, one year!
What is one thing you recommend brides have (cosmetic item, fashion item, accessory, something blue, etc.) to complete their classic bridal look?
A beautiful vintage-inspired bridal bouquet with your grandmother's handkerchief attached.
The latest collection
Can you please tell us about your designs and background?
My passion for bridal goes all the way back to when I was a small child. From the moment I could hold my own pen, I spent my days sketching dream gowns for friends and family. I always knew I would be a bridal designer.
Before I graduated from the University of Georgia, I met Priscilla Kidder (Priscilla of Boston). She hired me and I moved to Boston to work as Jim Hjelm’s assistant, who was the head designer at PoB at the time. I gained retail experience in various department stores and salons until I opened my own in 1981. Fifteen years later, Kleinfeld NY bought it, and I managed and bought for the bridal salons at Saks Fifth Avenue. In 1996, I met Richard Branson who hired me as Managing Director of Virgin Bride in London.
It wasn’t until 1999 that I launched Anne Barge Bride, a lifelong dream come true.
My designs are classic and timeless. Sometimes embellished with lace or embroidery and sometimes simply unadorned. Either way, they always have a strong, simple silhouette that lets the bride shine through.
Who is the Anne Barge bride?
She’s not just one woman, she is many. What all of my brides have in common is that they are sophisticated, classic, and timeless.
If you could design a wedding dress for any woman (celeb/icon/personal inspiration) from the past or present, who would it be and why? And what would it look like?
Audrey Hepburn has been one of my longtime muses. Her finale gown in My Fair Lady has always inspired me but her style in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was also so iconic. Chic and elegant.
Besides soon-to-be-married-couples, who do you sell to?
We make custom gowns and evening wear for debutantes, (a Southern tradition!), mothers of the bride, black tie, and red carpet. We also make flower girl dresses to match any bride’s gown.
What experience do you have with weddings/the wedding industry?
As a retailer, I have dealt with countless US and international bridal designers, magazine editors, etc. As a designer, I have showcased not only at New York Bridal Fashion Week, but also at bridal markets in the UK and Milan.
Article compiled by Kelsey Olive. Images courtesy of Anne Barge Bridal.