We place so much expectation on a wedding dress. It has to be the “one”, “the” dress, the “most important dress a woman will wear in her life”. Sounds very stressful, if you ask me. Since we’re on the topic of questioning the system, here’s another thing I can’t figure out: Most important, eh… Says who?
Who said that one’s wedding dress has to be all of the above? With a tank full of questions, I opened the tome on wedding attire – Couture Wedding Gowns by Marie Bariller. This book is no laughing matter and I can afford no sarcasm, in fact I can’t afford anything at all – this is a catalogue of the most expensive dresses in the world. It doesn’t go above the prices of the creations listed here.
From Alberta Ferretti, Chanel through Jean Paul Gaultier to Zuhair Murad, this book has the biggest wedding dress masterminds profiled, quoted and their brilliant creations exhibited. There were a few names I expected to see but didn’t. One was Bruce Oldfield, the other Catherine Walker. I felt at least one traditional British couture house had to be in – but not on this occasion.
That doesn’t take away from the wedding lalaland that this book easily makes any bride (or not yet bride) escape to. If you didn’t know what dress was for you, after opening this book you will. You just will. Even if it’s not published in this bridal bible.
What made it interesting for me is that this book reveals what it feels for the designer him or herself to sketch, conceptualise and make a wedding gown. For these types of commissions fashion and trends take the backseat while personality and emotions are the Anna Wintours on the front row. Designing a wedding dress is an intimate affair for everyone involved.
I still find it mind-blowing that the couturier’s task is to summarise a woman as a dress, a white one. Sounds like an extraordinarily strict brief, but this is what separates the boys from the men of wedding couture: one white dress, not any two alike. That well may be the reason why it is “the” dress – it is an extension of the woman. Without her it is nothing and on her, everything.
Thank you Abrams and Chronicle for my copy. You can buy yours directly from the publisher too.