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- Part 3
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The Mermaid

Vera WangAugusta JonesAmsale

A friend of mine has recently asked me to help her choose a gown with a mermaid silhouette, something appropriate for her wedding near the beach this summer in Florida. I’ve got to say, that this was sort of easy for me. Right now the mermaid is in, and is my favorite shape of the moment.

I’ve managed to find three beautiful dresses that would work perfectly for her. The first, in the upper left corner, is a halter top with an empre bodice by Vera Wang. The second, in the upper right, is a strapless with floral appliques and an organza overlay, by the young British designer Augusta Jones. And the bottom one is another halter top, this one by Amsale.

All three dress convey an attitude that is at once romantic and relaxed. They’re fun and flirty and any of the three would be good for my friend’s wedding by the sea.

The thing about the mermaid silhouette is that it’s very flattering and really shows a girl’s curves, and if, like my friend you’ve got them, why not flaunt them.

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Monique Lhuillier

Monique Lhuillier

Here’s an article about Monique Lhuillier one of my favorite bridal designers.

Monique Lhuillier has quickly gone from bridal designer to red carpet sensation.

That jade goddess gown on Diane Lane at the Golden Globes? It was hers. Britney Spears’ strapless, princess mermaid wedding dress? Another Lhuillier frock.

You can’t quite call her an overnight success, though. The petite Lhuillier, who was raised in the Philippines, has been interested in fashion as long as any 33-year-old could be. She knew in high school that she wanted to pursue a fashion career, so when it came time for college, Los Angeles’ Institute of Design and Merchandise was an easy choice. Her studies focused on bridal and eveningwear.

Lhuillier says she loves the intimacy of working with young women who are excited, nervous and in love all at once. “With bridal, I feel a huge responsibility for my customers. I really feel like when the whole event is done they’re my friends. We bond that much. It’s beyond the dress; I’m responsible for making their dreams come true.”

In 1996, she made a sample collection of eight gowns and brought them to a trade show. She picked up five stores right away. Six months later, and with another trade show under her belt, Lhuillier began to build up a following. She added evening wear in 2000 and opened her own store.

Here are three of my favorite Monique Lhuillier gowns. Note closely the way shoe uses lace.

Lhuillier brings a concern for sumptuous materials and workmanship which evokes the Old World. Yet her dresses which are at once traditional and romantic, remain utterly stylish and glamorous.

This sensibility is particularly evident in her lace creations. This is not your grandmother’s lace dress. Look at the how that middle gown shows off the model’s figure. Rather than piling frou-frou lace on top of satin, she’s created a form-fitting lace sheath which is both flattering and provocative.

Is it any wonder that Hollywood starlets have been turning to Monique Lhuillier in droves for both their bridal and evening wear?

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Whether or not she wants to admit it, almost every woman, well before she’s met Mr. Right, has imagined herself walking down the aisle in the perfect wedding dress.

Amsale Aberra designs dresses that look like the ones we have in our heads. They’re for smart modern princesses. Traditional and romantic but not ridiculous, opulent but not decadent.

The ones I like most are her strapless, full-skirted gowns. They have a dramatic sweep, and the details are pretty and feminine, without being overpowering.

Hong Kong Bride Blogging

Spirit Fingers, a very funny blog, has rendered us the service of bride blogging the latest in Hong Kong bridal head gear.

Arm Chub

I’ve received a question about a problem that, not surprisingly, even one of my most glamorous friends is faced with in her own upcoming nuptials.

I’m in a wedding this summer. I’m the only bridesmaid/maid/matron of honor and may buy any dress as long as it’s red. I’m a big girl, size 16ish and of a certain age ie. 36. My upper arms are not for public viewing and yet most of the dresses I see are sleeveless. I do have a small waist compared to the rest of my outline. What is a girl to do? I have started better eating and going to the club (I used to be a size 24) but I don’t want to apply too much pressure to myself. I’m thinking that I could be a size 14 or 12 by the summer. Ideas for an outfit that covers the arms and isn’t cut down to the waist?

The problem of the chubby upper arms is not unique. Even I, the Donatella (as the Manolo would say) am no stranger to the stubborn fat of the upper arms. Rare is the woman who, after a certain age or a certain weight, has perfectly slender arms.

First, I commend you for losing the weight you’ve already lost. There is no other way to get slender arms than losing weight, and the best way to do this is to exercise and eat less. (Manolo has already recommended this book, but here it is again. If you have to lose weight quickly, and are serious, it works.)

Second, I don’t think you should be afraid to bare your arms. Show off the new you. Continue on your program, get a little tan, and I’m sure you’ll look great.

Also, as you may have noticed, all the prettiest dresses this season are sleeveless, and this will be a summer wedding, so sleeves might look both out of place and out of style.

Here’s my best advice: find the prettiest red sleeveless bridesmaid’s dress you can, one that isn’t too billowy, but instead emphasizes your shapliness. Of course, although the bride has given you carte blanche, make sure she likes the dress before you pay for it, after all it’s her day.

You’re in luck. In the past couple of years, the best bridal designers have turned their attention to making beautiful dresses for bridesmaids. The Vera Wang bridesmaid dresses are gorgeous, and comparatively affordable, usually under $400. The same can be said for Amsale and Nicole Miller.

After having said all that, if you’re still self-conscious about your arms, get a silk wrap or a shrug. I always like the way a wrap looks; it can pull an outfit together and make you look polished, and they are in this year. Besides, if it’s a church wedding, it seems more respectful to me to cover your shoulders and bosom.

I’m of the old school. I like things to be somewhat formal for a church wedding. Save the breast-bearing for Vegas.

Finally, I can tell from your letter that you’ve got the right attitude. You’re preparing well in advance, and you’re not stressed out. Weddings should be fun, all mine were.

Carolina Herrera

Carolina Herrera, Spring 2005Carolina Herrera, Spring 2005Carolina Herrera, Spring 2005

Jackie O once adviced women to dress “like a column”. I think what she was really calling for was a return to classicism in fashion, and the American designer who best exemplifies this is Carolina Herrera.

Her wedding dresses, in particular, evoke the order, proportion and symmentry that were the standards of the classical world.

These three here, although regal, remain approachable. Their classicism is tempered with a touch of whimsey and light-heartedness. They show the sure touch and confidence of a master, one who has been designing beautiful dresses for many years, and so is it any wonder that Jackie O’s own daughter Caroline, chose Herrera to design her wedding dress.

Angel Sanchez

Angel Sanchez style N410Angel Sanchez style N232Angel Sanchez style N245

Here you see three beautiful dresses designed by Angel Sanchez. These dresses capture the best of Angel Sanchez’s style.

The bride who wears these dresses is someone with a subtle sensibility. Her allure is not overtly sexual, but is instead ethereal, romantic, and yet thoroughly restrained and modern.

The last of the three, in the lower left, is especially elegant and sophisticated. It’s lines are clean and architectural, but not severe. It is, in some ways, the perfect dress for the grown-up bride.

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