Wraps inspired this bridal party to shoot outdoors in the rain. (www.braedonphotography.com )
A wedding gown is a thing of beauty — a wearable work of art that transforms the bride into a vision of beauty as she sashays down the aisle. But what can she do when the temperatures dip? Not just any sweater or shawl can be thrown over a wedding gown, which is why many designers are creating equally beautiful wraps in fabrics such as chiffon, organza and cashmere.
Wrapping a bride’s shoulders isn’t always about shunning a cool breeze. “Sometimes shoulders need to be covered for tradition’s sake or for religious reasons,” said Los Angeles wedding gown designer Claire Pettibone, “which is usually when I get requests to create some kind of wrap.” Pettibone, known for her combinations of vintage detail and modern style, noted that most custom boleros (delicate little cropped jackets that are open in the front) and shrugs are designed specifically to complement a wedding gown. As for the type of wrap she usually creates, she said, “Most people don’t even realize that it isn’t part of the gown until the bride takes it off, usually after the ceremony.”
Indeed, a wrap doesn’t have to compromise the look of a gown at all, which is especially important for brides who plan to wear them during the ceremony.
“If it is designed well, a bolero or shrug can be a beautiful enhancement to the gown,” Pettibone said. “[It’s like] another accessory with possibilities for style and fashion.”
Some brides want to embellish the look of their gown after the ceremony, and once she has taken off her veil, a wrap is a great way to infuse her personal style. She can even incorporate the colors of her wedding, such as having a wrap made that includes colors of her bridesmaids’ dresses. “If it’s a garden wedding, maybe the shawl has embroidered colorful flowers on it, or a 1920s theme is perfect for a piano scarf (an intricately designed triangle of fabric normally used to cover a piano) with silk fringe,” Pettibone said.
According to Cuban-born designer Lazaro Perez of Lazaro Bridal, a division of JLM Couture, “Boleros and shrugs are timeless.” The New York-based designer, known for his glamorous embroidered designs, noted that brides on the East Coast request wraps far more often than those on the West Coast, simply because of the weather. “When a bride does ask for a wrap to go with her gown, I will usually create a custom ready-to-wear bolero, shrug or jacket that matches the embroidery and design of the gown,” he said, citing a shrug he recently created in French Algonquin lace to match a gown.
“Feathers are popular, too,” Lazaro said. But whatever the materials used, he always tries to maintain a traditional feeling. Shrugs and boleros are among his favorites because of their versatility. “They are light and airy, and you can wear them all night long,” he said.
For Lazaro, traditional doesn’t necessarily mean white satin. In his recent Spring 2012 collection, tulle and shredded organza, along with delicate embroidery and beading, lend floral motifs to his ultrafeminine designs. “Right now, we are doing shrugs in colored tulle,” he said, describing soft, romantic sherbet colors in peach, buttercup and hydrangea. “The collection is really whimsical and happy,” he said.
Though they may look exquisite, tulle, chiffon and organza simply won’t do for a winter wedding where the bride needs something to keep the cold at bay.
“Cashmere is the perfect solution for both the bride and her attendants when it comes to keeping warm,” said Susan White, founder of New York based White + Warren, whose cashmere wraps have become a staple for celebs such as Angelina Jolie. White said that the soft, luxurious wraps, which come in 60 colors, also make good bridesmaid gifts that can be enjoyed long after the wedding.
“It’s no fun being cold,” said Pettibone, noting that even with the beautiful weather of Southern California, it can get chilly from November through April. “It’s a good idea to have something pretty on hand just in case.”
Whether it’s a vintage sweater, a cashmere shawl or a custom-made designer bolero, a wedding wrap can be as glamorous as the wedding gown, and like the cherry on top of a sundae, an unforgettable detail.
—Jennifer Evans Gardner
Custom Publishing Writer