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Dresses | Manolo for the Brides - Part 30
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Just Watch Out For the Peahens

Feathers show up everywhere in the world of weddings, in bridal headpieces and even in wedding cakes, but I’ve found that full feather wedding gowns are rare beasts indeed… at least in real life. In the heads, sketchbooks, and workshops of gown designers, however, feather wedding gowns come into their own.


Take this creation, for example. Recently presented at a wedding expo held in Nanjing, China, this brilliant wedding gown (valued at $1.5 million) was sewn by eight skilled craftsmen over a two month period using 2,009 peacock tail feathers and 60 Hetian jades. Do I like it? Why, yes, I do, though I am curious to know how they procure the feathers. Pluck them from live birds? Harvest them from dead ones? Maybe it’s best that I don’t know?

One other thought comes to mind: I’d caution any bride-to-be considering this wedding gown to watch out for lady peacocks, who may just go out of their minds at the sight of the grandest male bird they have ever seen in their lives.

Two Tips for Tuesday

  • As I write this, I’m engaged in helping a friend plan her upcoming wedding. My job, simply put, is to find inspiration — links to wedding gowns for tall girls, pictures of backyard barbecue receptions that are rustic chic, and everything else related to nuptials. In fulfilling my responsibilities, I came across Emmaline Bride, which is more of a portal than an actual shop.


    Whether you’re looking for bridal accessories, wedding shoes, stationery, or your “something blue,” there are links to featured Etsy sellers who can provide you with exactly what you want. Well, sometimes. Currently, Emmaline Bride is suffering from a noticeable lack of links in certain categories. I’m hoping that spreading the word will encourage Etsy sellers who cater to brides and their bridesmaids to get on board because it’s such a clever idea.

  • It’s no secret that I love answering reader questions — so keep sending them my way whether you want me to post them or not — but I’m not the only one! If you have a question about shopping for wedding gowns or there’s something you’ve always wanted to know about the inner workings of Kleinfeld (featured on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress

) you can call 888-593-7377 (that’s 888-59-DRESS) to leave your questions for Randy, Kleinfeld’s Fashion Director, and Nicole, Director of Sales.

 They’ll answer your questions via audio responses that will appear on TLC’s web site.

With These Links, I Thee Wed

  • The Manolosphere’s very own Francesca recently wrote a wonderful article for Jewish Week entitled When Not Just the Glass Is Broken. In it she explores matrimonial mishaps that go above and beyond Aunt Edna getting lost on the way to the ceremony venue. And speaking of Jewish weddings, check out Cool Ketubah for a Ketubah that “projects the perfect balance between visual sophistication and poetic sentiment.”
  • Know a space-case looking for a wedding gown?

    Prina Tornai Wedding Gown

    This number designed by Prina Tornai might just fit the bill. You can thank me later.

  • Couples celebrating their marriage at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel or Resort can donate 5% of the total food revenue from their reception equally between a charity of their own choosing and an organization supported by The Ritz-Carlton’s Community Footprints Fund through the venue’s “A Vow To Help Others” program. If you’re getting married there — lucky you! — prior to December 31, 2010, you can take advantage of the program.
  • Oh, and by the way, the “Say ‘I Do’ With Mirassou” contest is back. Fill out their contest entry form for a chance to win $10,000; a trip to New York City for a 4-hour dream wedding consultation with a Brides.com editor; and an elegant Reed & Barton 5-piece dinner service for eight, 5-piece flatware for eight, and 3-piece crystal stemware for eight. The contest ends at 11:59:59 PM EST on June 19, 2009.

Carrie For a Day

Remember when stills of a possible SATC wedding gown were released in anticipating of the SATC movie? What I remember is how terrible Sarah Jessica Parker (as Carrie Bradshaw) looked in that Vivienne Westwood creation… No offense to the sassy Miz P, who’s lovely, of course. It’s simply that pulling off a wedding gown with prominent bosom cups requires that one has an actual bosom. She did not, leading to cups that were definitely half empty.

Carrie Bradshaw

That said, I am a fan of the gown itself, which boasts exaggerated lines and sculptural details likely too extreme for many. And I’m not alone. Its popularity may have inspired Westwood, who now makes custom versions of this wedding gown available for $15,000+. Is it worth it? Well, plenty of wedding gowns sell for around $15,000, so it really is up to individual brides to decide if they’d like to be Carrie for a day. Do note, however, that if you’re planning to order this gown from the Westwood boutique in London, you need to do so at least six months in advance.

A shorter reproduction of the original gown costing $9,875 sold out on net-a-porter.com, but may become available again in the future.

Designer Love: Chrissy Wai Ching

“Who?,” you may ask. That’s all right. I hadn’t heard of designer Chrissy Wai Ching — a designer who specializes in contemporary wedding gowns with exotic touches, among other things — until recently, when Sarah G. sent me a link to Wai-Ching Clothing. Here are four examples of Wai Ching’s unique wedding gowns:


The Zolotova uses satin rope to add interest to pleated silk chiffon in old fashioned cream and modern greenish blue.


The L’Arbre flowing pairs silk charmeuse in varying complementary shades with satin rope detailing for a quilted look


The L’Arbre Bleu does the same thing, but replaces the original’s muted palette with stark white and two shades of blue.


And the Athena features pleated silk chiffon layered over charmeuse. The vividly-hued back ties serve double duty as a sash.

Like what you see? Though Chrissy Wai Ching is located in Seattle, WA, she is happy to work with customers remotely to design a one-of-a-kind wedding gown using hand dyed silks. The best part is that prices start around a very reasonable $500, which is not far off from what I paid for my mass market wedding gown. Why, oh, why do I find out about these designers two years later?

A Wedding Gown With a Skin Condition

elizabeth fillmore gown

$19,580 will buy you a lot of things, including (but not limited to) a wedding gown that is in desperate need of a course of steroids and some topical hydrocortisone cream. The “Medea” wedding gown by Elizabeth Fillmore is one such gown. Don’t worry, though — it’s not contagious.

When Her Perfect Gown Isn’t Your Perfect Gown

A year or so ago, ABC News aired a What Would You Do segment called A Wedding to Remember: Shopping for the ‘Perfect’ Dress. In it, brides-to-be took their loved ones wedding gown shopping and pretended that they had fallen in love with dresses that, shall we say, fall outside the current bridal norm. The objective was to find out whether honesty is the best policy when a bride-to-be has found “The One,” even when it’s completely wrong for her.

ugly wedding gown

In reading the summary of the segment, what I found particularly interesting were the different reactions the brides-to-be who participated received from relatives and friends.

As the scenario played out, the [companions of the bride] teetered on just how serious Andrea was about the fuchsia dress. Ultimately, however, Andrea was overruled by her dutiful friends and bridesmaids.

“I don’t approve,” Katie said. “I’m sorry.”

“I won’t let you,” said bridesmaid Maria Cacucciolo. “It’s… it’s a nightmare … I’m gonna be honest with you. It’s all wrong. Absolutely not!”

Now I’m sure that Katie and Maria had the best of intentions. They merely wanted to protect someone they cared about from making what to them must have seemed like a monumental mistake. That said, the fact remains that a dress is just a dress, even when it is a wedding gown, and a tacky, ugly, weird, silly, or just-not-to-your-tastes dress (one that covers everything needing covering, anyway) is never truly a ‘monumental mistake.’ What if the bride-to-be had really adored the fuchsia wedding gown? I somehow doubt that she would have thanked her friends for caring enough not to let her wear her perfect gown!

I much preferred this response:

Rebekah [the sister of another bride-to-be] told us why she supported her sister’s decision.

“There comes a point when it’s your integrity versus … what you think you should say,” she explained. And when it came to her sister, she had to ask herself, “Where’s that line drawn with white lies? Who is it hurting versus who would it help? And so in this case, I think it’s really about supporting her.”

Even though the whole thing was a set-up, that’s more like it. The perfect wedding gown only has to be perfect to the person who is going to wear it, so why browbeat someone you care about into wearing a gown other than the one she really loves? If I knew in my heart of hearts that I’d shamed my sister or my friend into wearing a second-choice gown or, worse, a gown that *I* liked, I would feel terribly guilty. Maybe I’m too sentimental about these things, but it seems to me that if you can’t say anything nice about your loved one’s wedding gown, you should say something benign like “It really is your style” or “Wow, that’s colorful!” No lies, no nastiness, and no one gets hurt.