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Something New

June 18, 1993|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Cindy LaFavre Yorks writes regularly about fashion for The Times

Not all brides are married in yards of expensive silk. Practical souls marry in Granny's gown or wed in a street-length dress. More daring brides may don bustiers and leggings for a Las Vegas wedding.

Non-traditional brides such as these are moving beyond predictable wedding attire into more daring territory, accessorizing their ensembles in understated or sometimes even theatrical ways.

The garb runs the gamut from luxe fur hat or muff to more avant-garde Madonna-like crucifixes or choker necklaces, from gold-tone, Grecian-style hair bands for Athenian-esque brides to romantic, floppy hats for a more girlish, demure look. Most bridal accessories cost less than $200, with many starting at about $5.

"When brides have a dress they borrowed, they spend a lot of time on choosing accessories," said Susan Lane, whose Country Elegance line of bridal wear and accessories is carried at the Victorian Gardens in Studio City. "It's the only way to make (their bridal wear) unique for them."

Lane said that brides who borrow their attire have more money to spend for little extras. "They will get the shoe clips or an unusual boot--and might spend up to $150." Brides who have purchased the gown and veil are not only tapped out but often "burnt out" from the expensive, often exhausting shopping experiences.

Lane's line can even be customized for sentimental brides. The fabric from a mother's or grandmother's gown can be incorporated into a garter, for instance, in reverence to sentimentality. At the Victorian Gardens in Studio City, items such as small lace bags, silk pouches, hats and combs are big seller, said owner Geri Perlman.

"We do a lot of second-wedding brides, and it's nice for these brides to at least do something like a hat with silk roses covered in French net. They can feel like a bride without being too overdone," she said.

Accessories at Perlman's store, range from $20 for a garter to as much as $100 for an elaborate hat.

Gloves and decorative hair combs are sequestered in a bridal vignette inside the accessory area in select Nordstrom stores, where items start at $9.

Surprisingly, cost-conscious brides are even stopping into stores like Claire's. These inexpensive accessory shops, located throughout the Antelope and San Fernando Valley areas, offer a variety of bridal accessories for less than $20. Pearl necklaces, rhinestone earrings, bridal purses and gloves are popular. Because bridal accessories represent a major growth area for the retail chain, the company plans to introduce a special-occasion bridal and mail-order catalogue in the fall, according to Bill Betts, executive director or visual merchandising and marketing.

The accessories chosen by a bride are usually dictated by the formality of the wedding, said Vicki Giannone, owner and consultant for Creative Weddings in Glendale. But the formula doesn't always hold. The wildest personal statement she has seen in her 15 years as a consultant was from a bride who married in a formal off-the-shoulder floor-length gown that carefully concealed her Reebok pearl-encrusted shoes.

Usually, Gionnone said, formal brides spruce up traditional looks with gloves, earrings, a necklace or a pendant. A more casual bride in a suit might want a special pin. The Italian bride, she says, may carry a bridal purse. Italian tradition stipulates that a larger gift be given at bridal showers and money be presented at the wedding. Guests may give checks or cash to the bride. By carrying the purse, the bride can also stash lipstick and other small grooming items. Ideally, Gionnone said, the bag should have a drawstring so the bride can keep it on her wrist and not be tempted to set it--and the valuable contents--down.

Whatever the item, Gionnone said, her bridal clients often dance to the beat of a different drummer.

"In Southern California we are trend setters--about 60% of our clients are looking for a wedding with a twist--they want something different," she said.

Some accessories are a must for even the most traditional brides. None are more de rigueur than the dainty handkerchief.

"Wedding tears are universal, no matter what the fashion statement," Gionnone said.

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