Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

lookbook: fit n’ flare

October 4th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Charlotte Balbier - Sasha-LR

You know us, readers: an edgy bride makes our hearts sing, we adore wedding creative cool and Fashion-with-a-Capital-F, but there will always be a special place in our hearts reserved for the classic, the timeless, the elegant. As the formidable Coco Chanel said, “Fashion changes, only style remains the same,” and, for lots of brides-to-be, the temptation of the classic often wins over the contemporary when it comes to their wedding gown. After all, those photographs will adorn mantelpieces and be pored over by future grandchildren in the years to come, and many of us want them to have longevity.

And the dress that sums up Coco’s motto of enduring style best of all? It’s got to be the A-line. Ask a little girl to draw a wedding dress and the A-line is what she’ll invariably produce – a bodice which fits to the waist and flares at the skirt. This design staple is feminine, romantic and almost universally flattering – what’s not to like?

Main images, Charlotte Balbier.

Charlotte Balbier klara-1

So, if an A-line ticks the boxes for you, where to start? Well, how about with Brides Up North’s very own Lead Sponsor, Charlotte Balbier. We’ve previewed Bohemian Blush here previously, and the Klara gown from that very collection is a classic A-line beauty, with full chiffon skirt (perfect for twirling and swirling, dancing fans), but this modesty is offset by a sheer bodice and stunning lace applique.

This combination of demure and daring is clearly a Balbier ‘thing’, with the Tuesday gown going for the same feel – a revealing Bardot lace neckline with a fabulously elegant chiffon skirt – just heavenly.

Then there’s the Romy – a boho dream of a dress with a small A-line skirt if you want something a little less princessy. We think the long cape is a stunning detail and destined to set a Balbier bride apart from the rest.

Charlotte Balbier - Sonnett-LR

It’s hard to go wrong with directional bridal brand Pronovias, and a quick peep at their current ranges throws up a bevy of A-line lovelies. The Regina’s tattoo neckline adds fashion interest, whereas the cap sleeves and flowing skirt are classically romantic. In fact, we can’t decide between that and the Reina, with its tattoo-style bodice and satisfyingly swishy chiffon skirt.

The Rumba is a self-confessed adventure in modern bridal design, taking a classic A-line gown and showing how it can be “reinterpreted to create an original, sensual and very modern look”. More tattoo-style bodice and sleeve work with a full skirt and sweetheart neckline; the perfect fusion of classic and contemporary.

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lookbook: a lot of front

August 2nd, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Julie Vino 2

For our latest lookbook post, we’re taking lead from gossip mags’ favourite and reigning Brides Up North gym inspiration Pippa Middleton – seriously though, I would swap one of my legs for those biceps. Sigh.

Prior to the wedding of the year, fashion commentators consulted their crystal balls and clamoured to predict the style the Duchess’ little sister would go for – arguably it was all a bit more, well, interesting than the 2011 debate about Kate’s dress decisions because so much (length, sleeves, modest front) is set in stone for a Royal bride. Pippa however, could freestyle it a little – and so she did, surprising the world’s media with her unexpectedly classic Giles Deacon princess gown.

We’ve already fully dissected the new Mrs James Matthews’ bridal style in a Get The Look special, but today we’re zooming in on one of the key details of her stunning frock: namely, the high-neck. We’ve been thinking: what inspiration is out there (other than the £40,000 bespoke designer option, obvs) for a girl who wants a lot of front in her frock?

Main feature images from Julie Vino

Julie Vino 4

Well, first up is Ersa Atelier, with their to-die-for designs from Bucharest. Sisters Gabriela and Cristina make much artful use of the high-neck in their most recent collections and the results are just – well, see for yourself. Serena with its delicate beaded and detailed sleeved top and plain waisted frothy skirt gives the impression of separates and pulls off the almost impossible feat of being both regal and ‘fashiony’. Pea is at the opposite end of the formality spectrum and is everything its short ‘n’ sweet appellation suggests, with its dropped waist and simple crochet-style fabric. Celie, with its glorious Art Deco-style scallops, speaks of another era, and its high-neck almost looks like a little lace collar – statement and simplicity all at once. If you’re a fan of the high-neck, this collection demands closer inspection.

Julie Vino

Jesus Peiro’s current collection also embraces high-necks but takes the look in a slightly different direction. Dresses 7019 and 7002 – the first a halter-neck with a draped sash and large bow at the waist, the second a breathtakingly simple origami-style bodice with subtly slashed neckline and full-on princess skirt – are almost sculptural in design and certainly current rather than classic in feel. Dress 7074 is more conventional – delicate lace overlay and elbow-length sleeves balanced by a mermaid flare – but no less attention-grabbing. The Nanda Devi collection heads for more ethereal territory, so if a Midsummer Night’s Dream-slash-fairytale vibe is your bag, JP’s website is definitely worth a trawl: drifting skirts, pretty lace crop tops and full-length lace sleeves abound. Dreamy bridal design brilliance.

Julei Vino 3

You might be forgiven for thinking that ‘high-necked’ as a descriptor automatically aligns itself with ‘modest’ or even ‘prudish’, and that a high-necked dress is definitely a distant cousin of ‘modern bride’ and even further removed from ‘sexy bride’. Allow us to dispel all misconceptions with Julie Vino’s daring Napoli, Roma and Venice collections. Here we see the modesty of the high neck neutered with plunging backs, daring sheer panels, Swarovski and exposed shoulders – what on earth would Ms Middleton think?

And finally, in more situations than I’d like to admit I find myself asking the question “what would Vera Wang do?” and, in the case of designing a wedding gown for her Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 collections, the answer seems to have frequently been “put a high-neck on it”. Thank you, Vera, for showing us the way with the halter-neck wonderfulness of the Galilea, the all-over lace glamour of the Cecile and the wow-factor of Clemence’s peasant gown perfection. Inspiration overload.

Julie Vino 5

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lookbook: power skirts

July 19th, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Morilee Mystique

When it comes to finding the perfect wedding dress, it’s all about the finer details. The neckline, the sleeves, the detailing to the back, the train, the fabric – they all play a special part in creating your bridal look.

But for us, one of the most captivating features of a bridal gown has to be the skirt. This is what, by and large, defines the overall style of the dress – whether it’s vintage, boho, ethereal, all-out flamboyant or something else just as gorgeous, prim or fantastical.

And that’s why today’s look book spotlights some of the most irresistible on-trend styles with wow-factor skirts from some of our very favourite designers. Gals, you’re in for a treat!

Morilee 1959

ball gown

We’re opening our look book with the definitive all-time classic – the ball gown. It’s the stuff of fairytales and let’s be honest, we all want to try on a skirt in this style at least once, just to experience our very own Cinderella moment. The ball gown skirt doesn’t need to be an extravagant puffball or meringue, as perfectly showcased by Morilee with their variety of chic, understated styles – all with a magical sprinkling of va-va-voom that’ll be sure to make you feel like a modern-day princess.

ruffles

If the classic A-line skirt seems a bit too conventional for your special day, the ruffle offers up an alluring alternative that will add dimension and movement to your silhouette (we’re already imagining this skirt whooshing its way down the aisle). Wavy, fluted, cascading, spiraling or even frilly – ruffles come in so many gorgeous styles and sizes, all perfect for accentuating your figure and adding a playful twist to your bridal look. For sublime sophistication, look to Justin Alexander for gorgeous skirts designed with layers upon layers of tiered ruffles in sumptuous tulle or organza.

Morilee 2887

splits

Skirts with a sassy split are still very much an underrated option, but for the bride who likes something a touch risqué this is the choice du jour for a look that will be unlike anything else your wedding guests will have seen before. There are lots of variations – the split can be to the front or the side, knee-high or (hold your breath) thigh-high. Keep things romantic and sophisticated by teaming this style with luxe fabrics such as lace, organza or silk, and exquisite sweetheart necklines or embellished illusion bodices. One of our current favourites perfecting this style is Pronovias, with their delicately flowing fabrics and flawless, demure designs.

high low

Another style that we simply adore on the runways (yes, we’re looking at you Monique Lhuillier) but which we rarely see worn by real brides is the high low skirt. For the style-savvy bride who wants to make an entrance – the high low skirt is one of the few designs that will put your wedding shoes (and your pins) firmly in the spotlight. Combining the glamour of a mini dress with a classic long train – the high low hemline is bold, beautiful and flagrantly chic. Consider voluminous ruffles for added drama or a slinky lace skirt for a flattering silhouette.

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look book: sheer sublime

May 26th, 2017 | Laura McDonagh

Symphony - Charlotte Balbier

Here at Brides Up North we love nothing more than the unveiling of new bridal collections that will determine brides’ big day looks. And every season now it seems designers are getting more daring with their creations, particularly when it comes to the sheer trend – see-through fabric panels that create the illusion of bare skin – as brides are encouraged to take a less is more approach to their attire.

We love this fresh take on bridal, giving ladies the opportunity to flaunt their figures whilst still technically keeping flesh under wraps. There’s no denying however that it takes one heck of a brave bride to go against the traditional demure grain – but what if you don’t want to be smothered in fabric, but you do still want to retain some style? If you’re after something clingier, slinkier, dare I say it sexier than a meringue, but don’t want to blow Uncle Dave’s pacemaker into oblivion?

Poem - Charlotte Balbier

Well, that makes sheer panels, barely-there lace and see-through chiffon your new best friends, and luckily for you, dresses with such detailing are the focus of today’s look book. From long-time fans of the look Berta Bridal to the stunning new Bohemian Blush collection from Brides Up North sponsor Charlotte Balbier (as featured recently on these pink pages), it seems everyone is getting in on the act. Though fierce, such designs featuring cleverly-positioned lace, illusion necklines and backs will still preserve your bridal modesty (and Dave’s pacemaker).

Berta Bridal are industry champions in creating dare-to-bare gowns, with style 17-113 and 17-130 from the F/W 2017 collection being seriously brave takes on the trend – all dangerously plunging necklines and sheer lace. Design 17-136’s sheer chiffon skirt puts legs at centre stage, whereas 17-144 is like the love-child of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Jennifer Lopez circa 2009 made into wedding dress form – sexy, sassy, righteous.

Klara - Charlotte Balbier

Charlotte Balbier’s newest offerings are typically soft, feminine and fairytale-esque, but still offer a glimpse of what lies beneath. Symphony from Bohemian Blush is to die for, with its slinky A-line cut, sheer bodice and appliqued lace. The prettily-named Poem features a plunging neckline but saves most of its sheerness for the bodice back, making the whole look arguably more realizable. There’s also Sonnett, with its delicate sheer detailing and peach and pistachio colour injection – definitely worth a lingering look.

Many a real wedding favourite, Maggie Sottero is also getting in on the flash of flesh action. Verina has a dramatic illusion lace v-back and sleeves, looking regal but not matronly. Blanche is a whole lot of daring with its double keyhole back and lace illusion sweetheart neckline and the Maren – well, just wow. More Swarovski than you can shake a stick at.

Sonnett - Charlotte Balbier

And then there’s the inimitable Elie Saab, offering up everything from sheer sublime to the slightly bonkers but beautiful. Check out that potentially pant-flashing lace number. Would you? Could you?

We say, she who dares… wins.

Main dress images by Charlotte Balbier

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lookbook: romantic ruffles

February 22nd, 2017 | Alexis Forsyth

Monique Lhuillier - Beatrix

If the 2017 bridal runways are anything to go by, ruffles are all the rage – so we thought it was about time we revisited this recurring trend, and show you how best to rock this romantic look.

Perfect for adding dimension to a slim silhouette and creating extra movement, ruffles are ultra-feminine and can serve up a hint of drama, too. Fluted layers, stiff waves, cascading skirts and voluminous frills – what we love is that there are so many different styles to choose from.

This isn’t for the faint-hearted though – the best way to carry off this playful trend is to go all out for a high-end twist to your bridal look. It’s a style, we think, best suited to modern fashionista brides seeking something alternative and chic.

Main images: Monique Lhuillier

Monique Lhuillier - Hailee

Focusing on current collections, Persy’s new Le Tresure collection offers a sweet twist on the ruffle trend with its head-to-toe layers crafting a figure-flattering silhouette. The Lily and Perla dresses are our particular faves – we can only imagine how wonderful it would be to swish around in these bohemian designs.

For the more contemporary and demure bride, look to Monique Lhuillier for inspiration. The Tresor strapless gown is one of our personal highlights from the AW17 collection, with its abundance of soft spiraling ruffles. By contrast, the Beatrix dress serves up a whimsical fashion moment with its cascading layers of beautiful lace, finished with a cute bow.

Monique Lhuillier - Ballad

If you’re seeking something a touch more understated with a vintage edge, look no further than Sachin & Babi’s new collection, delivering tight ruffles in all the right places to really accentuate your figure.

Princess wannabes will no doubt fall in love with the Ines Di Santo Souffle ball gown, which combines an illusion bodice and back with pretty appliques and a tumbling tulle skirt for a subtle and dreamy take on the trend.

You’ll also find ruffles of all shapes and sizes in the 2017 couture collection from Yolan Cris. Delicate and ethereal, these angelic dresses offer brides-to-be an alluring mix of fabrics and cuts, from pleated organza and Chantilly lace to tulle skirts and open boat necklines. In a word: adore.

the big picture

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bridal trend alert: the illusion wedding dress

December 1st, 2016 | Rachel Parry

allure-couture-style-c401c

Allure Couture

Keen to collaborate with other big-day enthusiasts in the world of weddings, we’re introducing a new guest writer to the blog today, the lovely Sophie Grabham, Online Editor at Love Our Wedding Magazine.

Aa a regular feature in our Brides Up North Luxury Wedding Fair media packs, we’re big fans and supporters of Love Our Wedding Magazine and enjoy flicking through its glossy pages of inspiration. As such Sophie will be sharing a monthly feature with us on everything from dresses to décor, and in return we will be writing for the wonderful Love Our Wedding Magazine website once a month too. If you didn’t see our first feature on the Top 2017 Wedding Themes, be sure to take a look.

For her first feature, Sophie has some serious dress candy in store for you as she talks bridal fashion trends.

mark-lesley-2017-collection-coming-soon

Mark Lesley

sophie says: One of our favourite bridal trends of the moment has to be illusion gowns!

Illusion necklines made an appearance in many designer collections for 2016 and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down for 2017. The elegant detailing gives the appearance of tattooed lace on skin and is a must have for any fashion-conscious bride.

But it’s not just necklines that have been featuring this illusion styling. There has also been a lot of emphasis on the backs of gowns as well as on sleeves, with intricate illusion lace patterns cropping up in many of the hottest new collections.

From chic and subtle to the fashion-forward and daring, this trend will work for any style of bride.

Let’s take a look at some of our favourites…

kenneth-winston-style-1696

Kenneth Winston

illusion necklines

The signature style for 2016/2017 weddings, illusion necklines can be as daring as you like! There are many variations of this look; from high-neck detailing to plunging V-necklines – another huge trend for the new season.

We’d recommend wearing minimal jewellery and hair up or to one side, to really show off the gorgeous detailing on this style of gown.

Labels including Allure, Chloe Bridals, and Kenneth Winston all rock this look.

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