While it goes without saying that the coronavirus has made the year challenging for everyone, it's a particularly crappy time to be a bride. Still, the industry is rising to the challenge, delivering a slew of 2021 bridal trends to think on now as the reality of next year's weddings begins to materialize. Whether your 2020 nuptials were downsized or completely postponed due to the virus, or you recently got engaged and are planning a wedding in the economic downturn, take comfort in the flexibility of these unprecedented times.
According to retailers, bridal brands, and designers for whom bridal is a substantial portion of their ready-to-wear business, there are a few key themes that have emerged over the last months. Firstly, the acknowledgment that versatility, both from a styling and a logistical perspective, is more important than ever. Secondly, the belief that brides will — and should — remain committed to finding what makes them feel truly special, regardless of the current climate. And finally, a through line of thoughtfulness and intentionality, from which both the bridal and fashion industries can always benefit, is coming to the fore. So consider this period of unpredictability to be your something blue, and push forward with all of the excitement your special day deserves.
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2021 Bridal Trend: Versatility
Whether you're just starting to hunt for your look, or are adapting your event's scale, location or date, there's never been an easier time to shop for pieces that'll cater to an evolving aesthetic. In a literal sense, bridal appointments are increasingly being shifted online. Bridal designer, Danielle Frankel, launched her e-commerce site in May, offering a wide array of designs and sizing including exclusive online styles, a streamlined try on and return program, and virtual styling appointments to provide brides with the same experience they would have in showroom. AMSALE is also conducting virtual styling appointments, a virtual try-on service and a design-your-dress online platform, all with the goal of offering new and existing customers guidance for updating their looks to fit new wedding plans. Meanwhile, designer Jonathan Simkhai, who created Brittany Snow's custom wedding dress for her early March nuptials and offers a range of adaptable ready-to-wear bridal options, playfully points out there's an exciting creative freedom in this new era. "There's nothing more of the now than a corresponding face covering!"
In a strictly sartorial sense, versatility in terms of garment design and styling opportunities is reaching new heights. Elizabeth von der Goltz, Net-a-Porter's Global Buying Director, explains that their bridal business heavily features silhouettes from ready-to-wear brands already beloved by their customers — like Alessandra Rich, Brandon Maxwell, Rosie Assoulin, and Carolina Herrera — thus enabling customers to uphold their personal style rather than being forced into cookie cutter designs. "The Galvan Mayfair Gown was so popular for brides in search of a sleek, simple and elegant gown, we successfully trailed it in an exclusive, midi length silhouette." AMSALE design director, Margot LaFontaine, suggests "adding a layering piece like a lace tee, a tulle cape or a belt," to adapt an already purchased look to a change of venue or season. With so many designers, bridal and otherwise, offering styling extras to enhance and personalize looks, that can be worn well beyond the special day, there's no better time to get creative.
2021 Bridal Trend: Individuality
With the current climate forcing brides-to-be to further hone in on what will make them feel special, it's only natural that the individuality trend is growing even more prominent. Of course, the big day has always been a reflection of personal style, but with so many brides being forced to think outside the box in every way — one salient example being Elaine Welteroth's stunning stoop wedding — fashion is stepping up to the plate. Andrea Iyamah is making multi functionality a key theme in their 2021 bridal designs as well as their business model. "Many have had to change their plans, and budget, and need a dress that can transition through all parts of their ceremony or celebrations," explains owner Dumebi Iyamah, who offers both Made-To-Measure and Couture services.
Danielle Frankel muses that there will be two forms of individuality that emerge in 2021. "There are women that now want to simplify, and women that want to dress up more than they ever had before," says Frankel, "which we're already seeing in our outreach." Net-a-Porter's von der Goltz echoes that sentiment of duality. "We are predicting a story of two brides; the sleek, chic, minimal bride, and the traditional bride with a fashion twist." Citing risk-takers like Zoe Kravitz, von der Goltz anticipates 2021 will see brides making braver fashion choices, for both the ceremony and beyond. "We're seeing an increasing demand for the 'afterparty' look, like sexy party dresses by Rasario and sequined mini dresses by Retrofete," says von der Goltz. "We expect to see this trend continue as people with delayed weddings have high anticipation and bigger reasons to celebrate and indulge in additional looks...and may not choose to buy every look in white." The takeaway? Double down on whatever makes you feel the most special and unique, because that's one thing even a global pandemic can't change.
2021 Bridal Trend: Intentionality
Another trend that is emerging from isolation is a thoughtfulness and intentionality. Brock Collection, a brand known for its romantic aesthetic and stunning ready-to-wear looks frequently worn by in-the-know brides, embodies this approach. "We should all come out of this situation with a clear definition of what is important," says Kris Brock, who designs alongside his wife, Laura Vassar. "From our collection perspective, this translates to having a sincere, meaningful approach to what we design." For Vassar, it's staying true to the dream and vision of the bride. "The direction we have always taken with evening wear and bridal gowns is timelessness." All the better for investing in what will become a family heirloom.
Jonathan Simkhai, who is increasingly incorporating sustainability practices throughout his designs and business at large, is drawing inspiration from the silver lining of the pandemic. "Watching mother nature start to heal while people are staying home has led me to think more and more about eco conscious material sourcing while still finding fabrications that feel luxurious." It's certainly a broader trend that is seeping into bridal culture, and will continue to do so in 2021. "Investment dressing means brides are shopping more responsibly and sustainably, purchasing outfits to celebrate now and for years to come," says von der Goltz. How better to dress for a commitment to forever than with future generations in mind?