It was Queen Victoria who first popularized white at her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe–Coburg in 1840. Unusually, for royalty of the period, it was love—not politics—that bound the two together. It is said that she wanted to symbolize a pure and simple start to their future—a blank canvas made using a piece of cherished Honiton lace and her hair garlanded with orange blossoms. In support of her color choice, a folk saying arose from that time: “Married in white, you have chosen right.”
So, you’ve chosen Mr. Right, now you have the infinitely harder task of choosing the right gown! That’s why we’re here to help, together with five of the best bridal designers in the world: Galia Lahav, Chiaradè, Daalarna Couture, Celia Kritharioti, and Elizabeth Kennedy.
For fairy-tale princess enchantment, look no further than Galia Lahav’s exquisite haute couture gowns. The “Lily Rose” is a masterpiece of hand-appliqué and hand-beading, its Antique Rose crystals shimmering on a mermaid silhouette skirted with a ball-gown layer. “Gia” is a strapless corset dress in shades of nude and blush, featuring a sheer pleated silk tulle skirt that demands to be swished up the aisle. Again, the crystal embellishment and dramatic appliqué has leading-lady impact. However, for full-on, full-skirted, aisle-filling spectacle it has to be “Corina.” This Swarovski crystal-strewn princess ball gown presents its dainty sweetheart corset under long sleeves of French Chantilly lace, while the voluminous skirt and train are silk satin tulle decorated with delicate hand-appliqué. Breathtaking.
Anita Benes—the talent behind Daalarna Couture—is based in Budapest. She creates her beautifully simple, graceful silhouettes to the haute couture standards that she learned in Paris. Blending traditional dressmaking skills with modern styling, and using the finest fabrics from around the world adorned with Swarovski crystals, the result is a harmony of chic sophistication. It’s no surprise that she’s famed as one of Hungary’s leading designers, celebrated for her unparalleled eye for feminine detail. If your style is gorgeously understated, if you favor singular simplicity, then Daalarna Couture is your go-to label.
At Chiaradè they are seriously passionate about romance, as you would expect of an Italian fashion house. If you want amore, then the ultra-feminine “Chevalier” collection has gowns as frothy as a cappuccino, as sweet as gelato, and as sparkling as a spritz aperitivo. Its “Sera” collection, however, caters for quite another taste. This hits the operatic high notes, offering dramatic black and scarlet gowns that plunge deep and slash as high up as you dare. Strictly for the bride who loves to create a sensation.
Big-day high fashion doesn’t come more uptown than Elizabeth Kennedy. She earned her couture stripes in New York City, graduating from Parsons in Fashion Design before creating one-of-a-kind red carpet dresses at Donna Karan, and rising to become Head Designer at Isaac Mizrahi. Since launching her own label, she has dressed Drew Barrymore, among other notable personalities, and is widely respected as one of the most skilled designers of her generation. Choose a Kennedy gown and you choose invention and creativity over predictable conformity. With every piece handcrafted in Manhattan’s Garment District, you also support high-end US fashion. Very modern love.
You’ll have seen Celia Kritharioti couture pieces on the likes of Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Established in 1906, the celebrated Greek fashion house was a well-heeled secret until Kritharioti broke with the tradition of her ancestors this season and became a date on the couture calendar. Lucky us. The height of classic Greek luxury, Annabel Davison at Vanity Fair lauds the exceptional femininity of her handmade, embellished concoctions that make an entrance at every Athens high society wedding. While inferior talents will rarely look their best beyond the showroom, her annual bridal collection delights in silhouettes that flatter the female form. And the signature heavenly romance is conjured from a perfect marriage of fine silk, precious lace, delicate crêpe, intricate embroideries, and shimmering crystals. For your fantasy A-list wedding, it has to be Celia Kritharioti.