Unforgettable Wedding Gowns Past and Present

I recently stumbled across the ultimate in eye candy: the gorgeous book “100 Unforgettable Dresses”. Naturally some of the most iconic dresses of all time have been worn by brides, and many ultimately changed the direction of fashion. It got me to thinking about some of the most legendary wedding gowns of the past, and also inspired me to think about which current wedding dresses have the chance to become modern classics.

Carolyn Bessette Kennedy:
When Carolyn Bessette married John F. Kennedy, Jr. in a tiny private ceremony in 1996, her custom Narciso Rodriguez dress signaled a drastic about face in the world of bridal fashion. Her sensual streamlined bias cut dress was the opposite of the traditional wedding gown styles of the day. Seemingly overnight, brides started flocking to bridal salons looking for replicas of Carolyn’s wedding gown. While not a lot of women had the flawless figure needed to pull off that particular dress, it ushered in a new admiration for clean, modern bridal fashion.

Princess Di: To our current way of thinking, Princess Diana’s over-the-top wedding gown was a monstrosity, especially thanks to all of the poufy sleeved copies it spawned. However, when the blushing bride stepped out in the David and Elizabeth Emmanuel design in 1981, it became an instant classic. It embodied the entire notion of the overblown fairy tale wedding and obscured the young Diana’s body just as Princess-hood for a time obscured her as a person. No matter what we think of it today, Princess Diana’s gown was unforgettable and highly influential.

The Amsale Blue Sash Dress: This gown was famous not because of who wore it, but because of its inventive use of color. While today designers make wedding gowns that are saturated with color, when the blue sash dress was first introduced, it was big news. Brides adored the simple but unique wedding gown, and it inspired a colored sash trend that endured for years.

Kate Middleton: The biggest wedding trend of 2011 was the return to fashion of wedding gowns with sleeves, thanks to the Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen gown worn at the Royal Wedding. The elegant gown managed to artfully combine traditional bridal elements (long sleeves, lace) with a modern clean V-neckline that kept it from feeling fussy. After years and years of strapless wedding dresses, the Kate Middleton gown instantly brought sleeves back into fashion. Royal wedding fever has also brought about an increase in demand for bridal tiaras. Pippa’s bridesmaid dress was also highly influential, both for brides and bridesmaids.

Just for fun, I perused the most recent collections of bridal gowns from the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 Collections to see which gowns have the potential to become instant classics that will change the direction of bridal fashion for some time to come. I will confess to having a preference for classic elegance, so you will not find Vera Wang’s red or black dresses here, nor any of Pnina Tornai’s scandalous sheer bodices (although I did include a couple of pink dresses). See if you agree!