British Bridal Exhibition - Harrogate UK

29 Sep 2011

British Bridal Exhibition - Harrogate UK

A clear signal of optimism

Image gallery

Image gallery

The wedding industry remains relatively unscathed by the recessionary downturn. According to a recent business report, the upbeat, unrelenting attitude of brides to compromise and skimp on everything but their wedding dresses is a major factor providing buoyancy to the industry even during tough, economic circumstances. The season of marriages can never go out of fashion, literally, making the bridalwear industry almost resilient to onslaughts of cultural or economic changes. Nowhere else can this be seen better than at BBEH, the largest bridal trade show on the UK circuit and one which guarantees to provide the widest section of designs. Retailers certainly agreed with this philosophy; with over 3,500 visitors visiting the event, of which 17% were overseas, travelling as far as Scandinavia, the US and Australia.

At BBEH this year, there were no less than 370 collections on offer. The fashion trends for 2012 cater to every bride’s taste and style. Although there was the stable, classic popularity of white, flowing, princess-styled gowns complete with ruffles, lace, veils, and high-heeled shoes, there was are also the flamboyant designs which cater for brides’ desire to look fashion-forward, unconventional, and radical in daring colours. It seemed that more and more companies – not simply those in bridalwear, but also the menswear manufacturers and accessories makers – have focused on creating signature looks and setting their own trends.

Few serious manufacturers are without a good number of accessories in their mix, from flowered and jewelled belts to illusion-back shrugs and many mainstream accessories manufacturers are playing the same card by offering special pieces that move a simple gown into the realms of bridal high fashion. Joyce Jackson has a perfect tulle cape that not only gives shoulder cover, but also introduces layers of three-dimensional detailing, while Elizabeth Dickens vintage ‘skull-cap’ veil become the focal point when worn with a plain, understated dress. In headdresses the message remains vintage; Halo & Co have superb examples, with adventurous stone combinations and wonderful curves of metal.

In occasionwear, the latest trends emerging at BBEH included wild animal prints in extraordinary colours for prom (Tony Bowls and Hermoine Collection) and mother-of-the-bride outfits that mix colours, textures and embellishments. With the prom market expanding into the UK, more and more designers are catering for this young market, producing dresses in a kaleidoscope of colours. This trend is also true for the mothers of the wedding party; their dresses are bright and vibrant, showing that it isn’t only the young who can carry this style. The evening and cocktail dresses remain faithful to the classic elegant look but designers are playing more and more with straps, ruffles, sashes and bows to bring them into the new season.

If it’s high-end glamour you’re looking for, this year’s ‘Designer Room’ was the place to be. Showcasing designers from all over the world such as Augusta Jones, Madeline Isaac-James, Caroline Atelier, Jonathan James, Mikaella Bridal, Rachel Simpson Shoes, Sasso, Ritva & Chenca and MiaMia. Complete with a Champagne Bar, it was the idea place to relax and take in the beautiful collections. BBEH also helped project the up-and-coming names of the industry further into the spotlight. This September, the talent includes Claire Mischevani, whose beautiful gowns use mixtures of lace and satin to enhance the feminine silhouette and Lizzie Agnew whose cute vintage dresses play with ruffled skirts and nipped in waists.

The Bridal Preview catwalk show in the Royal Hal was a highlight and featured the work of Jason Jennings for Veromia (ruby is the colour here, flowers the defining feature), Bonny Bridal (who showed its fabulous plus-size range Unforgettable), Ellis Bridals (for sheer opulence and exceptional beadwork) and Amanda Wyatt (with some of the best short gowns you will find). In the same show designer Grace Harrington offered witty wacky cuts and colours, Crystal Breeze delivered a group of classic gowns with contemporary trims in lipstick red and Anoushka G, as you would expect, shimmied and shone down the catwalk, in radiant fans of feathers and slivers on matte sequins.

What more do you need in a trade show? The home of bridal has got not just bigger over the years, but also better. And better is what we all want.

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