Charlotte Balbier

lookbook: sheer brilliance

October 1st, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Reem Acra 3

Over time we’re seeing bridal gowns that are less virginal and pure as designers become much bolder with their designs, chopping and changing the traditional wedding dress as we know it.

We’ve witnessed the hemline of some dresses get higher, necklines get lower, backs on full show, and more recently, cutaway detailing which exposes various areas of brides’ physiques, from their arms to their abs.

And it looks like brides will continue to bare all, as this year’s designer catwalks have been awash with striking sheer gowns.

Reem Acra 5

Though bridal dresses with see-through detailing are nothing new, the most recent take on the translucent look sees the sexiness taken up a notch – with some gowns leaving very little to the imagination.

That said, similar to the cutaway trend, brides can opt to be as coy or confident as they like with the look, be it donning a barely there gown to show off their figure from top to toe, or choosing a dress with subtle sheer detailing on just the arms or across the chest.

For brave brides Reem Acra has some fabulous sheer showstoppers. Most expose the arms, chest and torso area though the necessities are covered by decorative embroidery and lace detail that’s so delicate it appears to have been etched onto the skin. Though revealing the dresses are both soft and romantic, and in most cases follow the rule of only exposing one half of the body.

Reem Acra 4

Heightening the risqué factor further are designers such as Anna Romysh Haute Couture, who showcased daring and distinctively different dresses on the 2015 White Gallery catwalks. Though some of the gowns did offer full body cover, in the sense that they were floor length, long sleeved and high necked, flesh was still flashed though beautifully detailed sheer fabrics. Other dresses meanwhile flaunted either the pins or upper half of the body. The Romysh dresses also stood out in terms of colour, with metallics and even black designs getting runway time.

Reem Acra 6

Fortunately, there are much more toned down options available for those who like the idea of showing just a little skin, or at least giving the impression that they are doing so. While some sheer fabrics do expose the bare skin beneath, others are cleverly placed over nude slips to give the illusion of exposure. Anna Kara has some particularly pretty options along these lines within her collection, which is classic and elegant but with a modern edge.

Tamer still are dress designs with just small or subtle elements of transparency.  Such designs can be found within numerous designers’ collections, including Augusta Jones, Naeem Khan, Simone Carvalli and Sharon Elle Design. Some of our favourites however, come from Monique Lhuillier and Claire Pettibone, which show that there is no need for brides to fear the sheer!

Reem Acra 2

Main images by Reem Acra, visit our Gallery for more inspiration.

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lookbook. bridal separates

May 11th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Reem Acra 2

Reem Acra

Inspired by our latest celebrity spy subject, the gorgeous Olivia Palermo, today we’re talking bridal separates on the blog as we encourage brides to rip up the bridal wear rulebook by swapping a go-to gown for a more unusual skirt and top pairing.

Ever since fashion forward Miss Palermo stepped out in her dreamy tulle skirt and soft cashmere jumper combo, designers have latched onto the idea of giving brides more choice beyond the classic dress. As 2016 collections are unveiled it seems apparent that demand for separates has never been so strong with a vast array of detached designs making their way down the bridal catwalks.

Hayley Paige 3

Hayley Paige

Monique Lhuillier, Reem Acra, Theia and Hayley Paige are just a few of the daring designers to showcase separates with varying levels of skin exposure, and the catwalks were teaming with clever cuts and combos at Barcelona Bridal Week a few days ago (more on this to come).

For those that dare to bare, full skirt and crop top combinations are deemed one of the boldest looks within the trend. As well as a little fake tan, brides considering such designs may well have to schedule a few abs-blast classes into their pre-wedding schedule as torsos will be on show.

Just how cropped the top is depends on how fearless the female. Loose wide-strap tops that cut off just below the ribs give a flirtatious glimpse of the lower stomach while more adventurous bralet style designs from the likes of Tara LaTour are much more figure-flaunting.

Reem Acra

Reem Acra

Meanwhile for those that like the idea of a cropped top but aren’t so sure about flashing so much flesh, there’s always the option of a high-waist skirt to minimise the area on show.

Brides that would prefer to remain totally under wraps don’t have to miss out on the trend either, as designers such as Monique Lhuillier offer matching combos that meet in the middle, or in some cases overlap completely. The trend has also expanded to include sophisticated shirt and high-waist skirt duos, covering much of the body.

Monique Lhuillier

Monique Lhuillier 

A mismatched look can also be easily achieved by following in similar footsteps to celebrity bride Olivia. The trick is to decide the type of silhouette you would like to create and whether or not you would like to mix up your fabric choices. Some designs like Theia will do the hard work for you by pairing a flowing silk chiffon A-line skirt with a cute cashmere crop top within their collections but as an alternative you can shop around to create your own dream duo.

Either way to nail the look so it says class rather than crass it’s all about perfecting flesh proportions. So if your separates expose your midriff choose a maxi-length skirt so not to flash your legs too. If your top meets your skirt you can afford to hitch up your hemline a little if you wish. Sleeved tops are also an effective way to strike the right balance while rocking the separates trend.

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lookbook. collars & capes.

March 2nd, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Jasmine - Enzoani

Several of our previous lookbook features have focused on wedding dress trends that encourage brides to flash some flesh, but today we are swooning over graceful gowns where modesty is key.

Somewhat unexpectedly dresses featuring high collars and capes (sorry Madge) have come to rule recent bridal runways promoting sophisticated styles that scream high fashion.


Though it didn’t work out for Madonna at The Brits (awkward) capes are a stylish accessory and can prove an incredibly practical choice for ladies having religious ceremonies that need to cover up that bit more, as well as brides with body hang ups that want to detract from the bits they’re less keen on.

A cape is a demure alternative to a shrug, bolero or jacket that comes in a variety of lengths and designs so brides can choose the type of style statement they wish to make.

The shorter options are fabulous for covering shoulders and the tops of arms while still showing off the main spectacle – the dress. Meanwhile long capes are particularly popular with brides looking to make a dramatic entrance on their wedding day without the use of a regular veil or train.

Solange Knowles is one high-profile bride that recently rocked this look on her wedding day, donning a cape with both her elegant gown and edgy jumpsuit outfits.

High low capes provide an option between the two either as a full coverlet or semi open design depending on how much of the dress a bride wants to be on show.
When it comes to detailing ladies opting for plainer dresses can add interest with laced and blinged-up designs. Meanwhile brides with highly detailed gowns are likely to stick to a simple sheer design though there are no hard rules to abide by.

Whichever option, caped brides can remove the additional garment for the evening celebrations giving them two different looks for their big day whilst also ensuring the all-important dress gets the exposure it deserves.

Designers that we think are executing the caped look exceptionally well within their collections include Monique Lhuillier, Jenny Packham and Claire Pettibone, though our favourite has to be Jasmine from Enzoani, which combines modern elegance with vintage glamour for one gorgeous dress.


Moving on to another covered-up trend – collars. Overtime the wedding dress neckline has crept up and where once the strapless sweetheart gown reigned supreme there are now full-sleeved designs as well as those with illusion necklines and high-necks.

In some cases the neckline has developed into a fully-fledged collar creating an incredibly regal look, which was favoured by one of the most elegant ladies in history on her wedding day – Grace Kelly.

Similar to the cape, a collard neckline can offer that bit more cover-up for body conscious brides whilst also emitting a theatrical look that’s bound to make a statement.

Many of the collared designs feature delicate lace collars but alternatives can be found in striking shirt necklines and super cute Peter Pan collars. Designers doing up the collar look perfectly include Pronovias, Ian Stuart and Charlotte Balbier – we heart her oh so sweet Flora dress.

All gowns featured are credited in our gallery.

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lookbook: city sleek.

January 7th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Mae & detachable skirt - Stephanie Allin

Mae by Stephanie Allin

We were recently Highly Commended in the Wedding Blog Awards 2014’s “Best City Wedding Blog” category, and chic cosmopolitan styling is one of our favourite trends for wedding day fashion, like, ever.  goodbye meringues! A stylish city ceremony gives brides-to-be the opportunity to rock sleek attire that varies from the wedding norm.

Moving around busy urban areas and climbing staircases of grand city halls and hotels calls for a slim line, fluid number that isn’t going to slow you down or trip you up. And we’re not just talking dresses; a city centre do pushes the style boundaries wide open, inviting fashion forward brides to consider a two-piece skirt and top design, or even an all in jumpsuit, Solange Knowles style.

Those preferring to stick to tradition with a dress can always hitch up their hemline to free their feet ready for stepping out through bustling streets.

Pia - Monique Lhuillier

Pia by Monique Lhuillier

Monique Lhuillier has some particularly striking options for city brides, including stylish mini-length dresses and sophisticated two-piece designs.

Billie is a particular favourite of mine, not that I would be brave enough to work its cut-away silhouette. But for those that are, its gorgeous crisscross crop top and elegant illusion pencil skirt scream high fashion. Meanwhile, for those planning a more vintage affair, the pretty embroidered Charlotte top and ballerina skirt cover a little more flesh and are still easy to get around in.

Lhuillier’s short-length dresses are also incredibly swoon-worthy options, particularly the Pia and simple yet striking Zelda designs.

Pia - Monique Lhuillier

Billie by Monique Lhuillier

Zelda - Monique Lhuillier

Zelda by Monique Lhuillier

The princess of prettiness, Stephanie Allin boasts several slim line dresses within her collections that would most definitely stand out in a city scene.

Chicago, Eternal, Ingrid and Olivia are all stunning examples of city simplicity at its best, but for those wanting a more structured design there is the Ashlea or even Mae, which has a detachable skirt, to give brides two equally wonderful looks.

The pièce de résistance has to be Allin’s Garbo jumpsuit as she dares to go where few other designers would. The fabulous sweet-heart neckline and wide-leg design also has an optional lace shrug for that extra piece of prettiness and cover-up where required.

Chicago  - Stephanie Allin

Chicago by Stephanie Allin

Olivia  - Stephanie Allin

Olivia by Stephanie Allin

Eternal  - Stephanie Allin

Eternal by Stephanie Allin

Garbo  - Stephanie Allin

Garbo by Stephanie Allin

Finally, I’d encourage city brides to consider the svetle, sleek lines of Suzanne Neville’s Novello Collection (click here to see a preview on Brides Up North), the fab and flirty frocks in Charlotte Balbier’s Iscoyd Park Collection (click here) or some of Sassi Holford’s cute designs as big day contenders.

For city brides wanting to bring a bit of bling to their big day, well, you can’t go wrong with a beaded Jenny Packham number, can you?

Simone - Jenny Packham

Simone by Jenny Packham


Rio by Jenny Packham


Noa by Jenny Packham

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lookbook: dip it low

September 16th, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Nina - Jenny Packham

Wedding dress necklines have officially reached new depths.

While once an innocent sweetheart neckline was as far as designers dared to dip, there are now an increasing number of dresses reveal that much more of the chest area. But this doesn’t mean the dresses look at all cheap, tacky or tarty. Instead the designs scream high-fashion, ooze elegance and have just the right amount of sass and sexiness.

A perfect choice for confident brides who dare to bare, this style of dress can be highly flattering and incredibly striking. So let’s get the lowdown on the designers that are endorsing the new lowered neckline.

Main feature images courtesy of Jenny Packham, images in gallery as tagged.

Noa - Jenny Packham

Monique Lhuillier has several wonderfully dipped dresses in her collections. Clever designs such as Sylvie, Karlotta and Logan feature a lowered neckline but keep a good amount of flesh under wraps through the use of broad shoulder straps, illusion necklines and elegant lace sleeves. Meanwhile, the likes of Valletta and Teagan, which boast deep necklines but with thinner shoulder straps, give brides the opportunity to flash some extra flesh.

Claire Pettibone’s lowered necklines also retain modesty through the use of sleeves and shoulder detail. Lily is a stunning example for brides wanting to keep their arms covered. The elegant slim-line design features a highly detailed lowered neckline, exquisite long lace sleeves and a to-die-for sheer lace back. Minuet meanwhile is a much more revealing design with a dipped sweetheart neckline and pretty keyhole back detail.

Rio - Jenny Packham

Queen of vintage glamour, Jenny Packham has also jumped onboard the lowered necklines bandwagon. For brides wanting to keep their look simple but flash just a little flesh, there is Lavinia and Nina. Other brides will look to Packham for a dose of that intricate detailing that she does oh so well. This can be found in Noa and Marina, both of which feature plunging necklines as well as pretty, sparkling embellishment. Gatsby-style brides meanwhile will find it almost impossible to resist the sophisticated yet sexy charm of Rio – it’s a real head-turner!

Finally Justin Alexander, which produces perfect princess style gown, has a few lowered neckline creations to add to the offering. Interestingly, many of the dresses that feature deep necklines in the front are mirrored in the back of the gown. So for example the 8737 fit and flare gown, with heavily beaded pearl and crystal deep V-neckline also has a plunging back neckline. Similarly the 8652 mermaid style dress features a V-tank neckline in the front and is finished with a deep V-neckline in the back.

Marina - Jenny Packham

So the only question that remains is how low will you go?

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Steel The Limelight! Silver Wedding Dresses For 2014

May 26th, 2014 | Rachel Parry

Cocorico, Ian Stuart

Cocorico by Ian Stuart

Back at your screen already?  We wouldn’t leave you hanging over the whole bank holiday weekend Brides Up North! Instead, here’s a pop of cool coloured eye candy to take you through till Tuesday. 

Non-traditional toned wedding dresses have gradually crept onto the scene as bold brides have ventured beyond the standard white and ivory options.  It started with just a handful of designers daring to push the boundaries but now more and more collections feature a coloured creation or two.

Violet, Monique Lhuillier

Violet by Monique Lhuillier

Last year pink was huge, particularly warm, playful blush tones which attracted a few celebrity fans, including the gorgeous Jessica Biel. By contrast, designers have turned down the heat for their 2015 collections, switching to steely, iced hues such as silver, grey and blue.

The only celebrity I’ve known to recently wed in such a shade is actress Helen Worth, yes that’s right Gail from Corrie, but please don’t let that put you off. While Mrs McIntyre is no style icon, steely tones can dazzle on the aisle for all the right reasons.

Alicia, Jenny Packham

Alicia by Jenny Packham

Tipped as a top trend for the coming year, frosted frocks are favoured by several designers, notably Jenny Packham, Ian Stuart and Monique Lhuillier.

Caracas, Ian Stuart

Caracas by Ian Stuart

Vivaldi, Ian Stuart

Vivaldi by Ian Stuart

Boudoir, Ian Stuart

Boudoir by Ian Stuart

Although fantastically flamboyant, many of Stuart’s designs are available in a pale blue hue, offering a quiet alternative that won’t rock the traditional boat too much. His Frill Me collection has some particularly stunning steely options. Boudoir and Coco Rico are slim-line, structured designs with stand-out detailing while Caracas and Vivaldi are two larger silhouettes, featuring another top trend for the coming year – ruffles.

Grace, Jenny Packham

Grace by Jenny Packham

Packham meanwhile gives brides the opportunity to sparkle in her embellished silver gowns. Both Alicia and Grace are simple yet striking designs with intricate detailing, perfect for brides who want to add a touch of glamour to their steely themes.

Floressa, Monique Lhuillier

Floressa by Monique Lhuillier

A further sterling option comes in the form of Monique Lhuillier’s Violet frock with a structured, high-detailed bodice and soft ruffled skirt. Those set on stealing the limelight however may prefer Lhuiller’s Floressa dress. An icy blast of blue, this dress packs a punch with its dropped waist bodice and full A-line floral skirt.

Raven, Claire Pettibone

Raven by Claire Pettibone

For me personally, if it’s a steely dress with a difference that you desire, Claire Pettibone’s Raven design is hard to beat. Combining last year’s top hue of pink with this year’s on-trend grey tones, this dress combines the best of both worlds – warm and frosty shades. A stunning example of the exquisite detailing Pettibone is renowned for, Raven boasts a dramatic black tulle overlay embroidered with pink and red roses complete with silver sequins, pearl silk and long flowing train. Perfection!

Raven, Claire Pettibone


Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2014 as credited

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