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Here Comes The Couture Bride: Paris’ Outrageous Wedding Dresses

At Paris' couture shows, a designer's finale traditionally features an outlandishly dressed 'bride,' but this year the models weren't all wearing white.

Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

PARIS — The Billy Idol song ‘White Wedding’ boomed through Jean Paul Gaultier’s hallowed headquarters, as a motley crew of brides-to-be walked down a central runway, led by the “mother of all brides” dressed in flyaway layers of tulle, matched with a lace bomber jacket for the designer’s spring/summer 2015 couture show.

Other brides followed, dressed in jeans and shorts or wrapped in cellophane, no less, in the case of Naomi Campbell who was minimally clad as a wedding bouquet in a look that closed JPG’s first couture show since he announced last year that he was ditching ready-to-wear in favor of his first love.

The parade, which was met with raucous cheers, was called “61 ways to say yes.”

With its cavalcade of beginning-to-end bridal madness, the JPG show broke convention. As fashion week fans know, a wedding dress more usually provides the grand finale during couture week shows, not the first or, in this case multiple subsequent looks.

Long a staple of couture shows, more usually the bridal extravaganza marks the final moment when a half-dozen men in smart suits swoop in to lift the train of the model bride, as she turns for photographers so she can get back to base camp without walking on her own outfit.

Some of the trains are so vast that they take up about half of the catwalk, like the Ralph & Russo dazzling finale piece shown at the Grand Palais which capped a beautiful collection.

Elie Saab also rarely disappoints with ostentatious bridal numbers. It is no wonder that princesses come to view his shows, although one, along with about twenty reporters, was locked out from this week’s event by the Paris police, who bolted down the doors of the chosen venue at the Palais Chaillot on the dot at one, with several frail looking fashionista waving invites at them, as if they feared a riot.

Saab’s wedding gown was inspired by the gowns his mother wore, in a show entitled “Beirut: Chasing a Dream.” Think decorative floral motifs on beaded gowns: the models looked like the beautiful ghosts of glamorous women of yesteryear, dressed to ethereal delectation.

While Paris Fashion Week saw some beautiful, more traditional wedding dresses that made one think of some of the old-school designs (from 1775—2014) at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum for their current wedding dress exhibition—one features a train so vast that it could make up a dining cloth for a grand dining table—the Gaultier show smacked of some of the rebellious spirit running wild through couture this week.

In place of a white wedding dress, Bouchra Jarrar, considered fresh young blood and alternative in style to the old-school of couture designers, sent out a smoking suit as her wedding look. When asked if she had included any other wedding dresses in the collection, she pointed to a black see through design on her mood board. “The wedding dress is not my style, and while I love so many elements of couture like the hand-crafted and the workmanship, I want to bring it all into the year 2015.”

Or consider also the gold finale pieces at the show for the revived house of Schiaparelli. This included wayward hats worn by women who walked like divinely styled creatures that were caged in a palace for rare butterflies. These brilliant and original looks harked back to the heyday of the designer who had a thing for shocking pink and lobsters.

The final “wedding” look was a gold jacket shimmering with over sized lapels that was attached at the back to a gold narrow train. Tights were worn on the legs. The model spotted a vast Afro hairdo in place of a characteristically fabulous Schiap hat.

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Gold was also in favor with the young couture designer Julien Fournie who sent out a beautiful collection that culminated in a gold goddess creation decorated in sumptuous exotic jewelry. The designer got emotional rounds of applause backstage as he spoke of the inspiration which perhaps hinted at the recent Paris attacks.

“I wanted to create a goddess-like creature and a woman who is free with a sense of the freedom that comes with travel,” Fournie said. “I want there to be a sense of liberty and for anyone that comes to my country to create something to be free to do so.”

Meanwhile, Viktor & Rolf were having none of it. They sent out models decked in flowers and what looked like hay twigs decorating their voluminous and amusing cotton dresses, which fanned out wide around the thighs and looked like walking bee-hives.