Here comes the… Brides were big news at London Fashion Week as young designers adopted the couture tradition of closing out shows with fantastical wedding dresses. “I think I’m old-school in my approach,” says Molly Goddard, whose final bridal look was an undulating frothy tulle confection that bobbed down the polished floor in Seymour Leisure Centre – much to the delight of content creators lining the court.
Seven days of stitching went into creating the fantasy look, with Molly admitting, “it was hard to gauge how big it was” as the cloud of cream taffeta kept growing on the atelier floor. By the point of its completion, the lead Molly Goddard seamstress had fashioned herself arm protectors to shield her skin from the repetitive brush of so many tight frills. The studio, meanwhile, was covered in paper to ensure the “ridiculously large” wedding dress was absolutely pristine for its moment in the spotlight. Was it worth the toil? Totally.
The two preceding bridal looks – one a drop waisted ballgown that emphasised the ease of Molly Goddard wedding wear, the other a classic tee and sheer skirt with a bow bedecked back – were created with the word “celebration” in mind. Hers are worry-free dresses to dance in, requiring zero Spanx, nor any complex inner workings that constrict and restrict all that merry hugging. “The point of it all is to have a really great time,” Goddard asserts of her joyful mission to make saying “I do” as relaxed as possible. “It’s a pretty great feeling making someone feel so happy”.
No wonder more designers had bridalwear on the brain for spring/summer 2023. Simone Rocha sent a similarly sculptural design down her makeshift runway in the Old Bailey, but pressed into all that delicate tulle and lace trimming was a sense of urgency – franticness, even. “It was about harnessing emotion,” she explained of facing the trauma of the last few years head on in her studio. “And this idea of how to translate all these complex emotions into clothes.” For anyone browsing through the collection pictures, it looked like business as usual, but as always there’s a tension at play in Rocha’s work that looked wonderfully arresting in the tough fragility of her bridalwear. The playful tiered tulle veils, which recalled tutus and were paired with both the women’s and new menswear, would look undeniably cool in the wedding photos of directional couples with a more editorial approach than most. Had Chloë Sevigny been getting married next year, we imagine she’d have given Simone a call.
Veils became common parlance for the Erdem woman, as the designer draped white netted sheaths over the crowns of models wearing restoration-inspired dresses that paid homage to the museums he immerses himself in daily. The veils turned dark for the last three looks as a mark of respect for the Queen, and looked visually arresting against the backdrop of the British Museum’s colonnades at sunset. “The finale gowns are so important to me,” says Moralıoğlu. “They were really inspired by the tulle under-structures that we saw at the V&A… the idea of creating something in order to restore and save something else.”
Harris Reed’s debutante-worthy show, soundtracked by emotive Queen frontman Adam Lambert, gifted us a cupcake version of a wedding dress that riffed on Victoriana glamour and ballet attire. Modelled by Lily McMenamy, who carried Lily of the Valley as a nod to Her Majesty, the corseted look with a dramatic headdress was emblematic of Reed’s booming artistic bridalwear business, which he chooses not to shout about. The individuals, who perhaps don’t subscribe to traditional notions of bridalwear, but who felt resolutely like themselves in Harris Reed looks can vouch for the fact the young designer is doing a sterling job at broadening the parameters of the fashion category.
The hints of bridalwear in Dilara Findikoglu’s lingerie-inspired looks and Nensi Dojaka and 16Arlington’s alt party dresses (think: club wear rather than church attire) showed young designers are tuned into the lucrative wedding market. But at the heart of this buzzing bridal moment is surely the romanticism entwined with creating one-of-a-kind fashion that makes its wearer feel their very best – particularly, as Rocha said, after the stress and anxiety of the last few years. In times of doubt – London Fashion Week was almost called off owing to the period of mourning – it’s no real surprise the city’s talent is dreaming up brighter days. If ever there was a case for escapism and poeticism, this is it.