The most important day of a woman’s life has always called for a show-stopping gown, something that reflects her personality while simultaneously wowing the groom (and pleasing his mother). Though it may not be common knowledge, Barcelona has been carving out a name for itself as the ultimate place to discover the latest designer bridalwear. With its annual Bridal Fashion Week, and a host of talented designers basing themselves in the city, Barcelona is the perfect place to find your ‘I do’ dress.
International leader in the field
Spain, best known perhaps for sun, sea and sand, is also the second-largest exporter of bridal fashion after China. Estermaria Laruccia, director of Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week (BBFW), details just how crucial Barcelona is to Spain’s bridal sector as a whole. ‘Barcelona has a long tradition of textile manufacturing and Catalonia … is the home of some of the most international and powerful companies in the bridal sector,’ she explains. The figures speak for themselves: with a turnover of nearly €1.3bn – 12.9% of the whole textile sector – Spain is the only Western country whose output exceeds domestic demand. An impressive 755,000 wedding dresses are made in Spain each year, and Catalonia’s share of that market is around 42%.
With such a vast impact on the bridal industry both in Spain and beyond, Barcelona’s bridalwear designers are certainly worth discovering, and nowhere was this better evidenced than at last year’s BBFW. From 26 April to 1 May the latest bridal collections from the best Spanish and international labels were unveiled before the world’s media and top buyers, who descended upon the city to find out what brides will be wearing in 2017. With a three-day catwalk event and a subsequent trade show, the crème de la crème of international bridalwear brands, from Pronovias and Jesús Peiró to Justin Alexander, showed off their best designs.
Trends to note
Though all manner of bridal fashion was showcased at the event, in terms of overall trends Laruccia highlights ‘a resurgence of purer lines, very soft, lightweight dresses made from superimposed layers of muslin that create silhouettes that are both sensual and discreet at the same time’. She continues, ‘In general, we’re seeing less gloss and embellishment and more minimalist looks, though just as luxurious, and a reinterpretation of 1970s fashions transformed into a hippie-chic style for the more adventurous.’
Hint of adventure
Adventurous brides will certainly be drawn to the creations of Barcelona-based brand Yolan Cris. Known for designing a wedding gown for model Nicole Trunfio, as well as bridesmaid dresses for Kim Kardashian’s wedding to Kanye West, it is an excellent choice for the fashion-forward. At BBFW 2016 the brand presented an array of captivating and original 70s-inspired gowns. Heavy on texture, looks showed off bold ruffles, modern lace, and feathered and fringed jackets fit for the headline bride at a wedding festival. There were even minidress options for those looking for something to break the mould. ‘A modern bride needs a modern wedding dress,’ say the brand’s founders, Yolanda and Cristina Pérez. ‘We apply fashion trends to bridal gowns to achieve contemporary designs.’
Comfort is of increasing importance to the modern bride, who wants to be able to show her skills on the dancefloor as well as look demure walking down the aisle. ‘Although we work with haute-couture techniques, we use the most exclusive and high-quality European fabrics to make our wedding dresses weightless and comfortable,’ explain Yolanda and Cristina. ‘Otherwise, the main thing that moves us is still creating dreams and still thrilling brides-to-be. That’s our main aim!’ Rock-star brides wanting to tie the knot before dashing off on tour with the band need look no further.
For simpler, more classic designs, look to Cristina Tamborero, another Barcelona native. Her BBFW 2016 show featured minimalist gowns with subtle hints of beadwork and embellishment; many were cut close to the body, while others displayed a modern take on the full skirt, with added pockets. Her most stunning bridal outfits were the contemporary two-piece options, including an embellished top and floaty miniskirt, and a maxiskirt with beaded lace crop top worn over a plain bandeau. Speaking about Spain’s bridal industry, the designer says, ‘We’ve had lots of good ambassadors and that has converted “Made in Spain” into a phrase with much more value.’ When it comes to the bridal designers who inspire her, Tamborero lists Pronovias and Rosa Clará. ‘Both have managed to grow and teach the whole world about the talent in the Spanish bridal market.’
With their stars on the rise, we’re sure it won’t be long before Cristina Tamborero and her peers at Yolan Cris follow in their footsteps.