Guest Article by Olivia Humphreys
New York VS UK
The twice-yearly dash around the fashion capital quadrant has, of course, historically been crafted by the Haute Couturier greats of Paris and Milan; however, the more recent influences of designers in London and New York City in the second part of the 20th Century have revolutionised fashion and challenged the traditional. This can be said for both mainstream fashion and the ever questionable classification of bridal wear as fashion or ceremonial – it cannot be forgotten when discussing trends as it is often the distinction between what’s happening on the catwalk and what’s happening at our wedding receptions that reflects how much influence one has on the other in terms of economic climate and evolving culture. Referencing the bridal market specifically these early-established transatlantic trends can clearly be seen. London’s David Fieldon, Jenny Packham and Roland Mouret all produce bridal collections that are reflective of a bride that wants to be herself; modern, independent, empowered, feminine and strong. These designers have stepped away from the naughties trends and are pursuing their own directions creatively and it seems the risk has paid off and their sales are booming. NYC’s bridal houses, appear to all be doing the same thing – horse hair on the hems, strapless sweethearts and have been doing so, for a while, it seems. What I have observed. Having worked in the fashion industry in both London and NYC is a distinct difference in approach to the industry. London fashion houses use their Eastern factories to produce their samples, therefore have to meticulously plan ahead in design, material purchasing and pattern making to assure their collections get shipped back in time for market. NYC houses have their factories on their doorsteps and yet, produce the samples in house. For embroidery London houses leave nothing to chance – designing original ideas, drafting the placement of every bead or sequin before handing it out to their trusted factories in India. NYC designers tend to work mainly from factory hanger samples and leave the layout design to their city-based agents, thus having a feeling of repetition season on season. Commenting on bridal houses specifically is still uncertain to me whether it is the US customer that keeps the US designers repeating with each other is doing or the designers themselves. It seems to me that a number of houses have a very similar style, but I know some are pushing for new ideas to compete with the fresh approach that the British designers are offering their customers. In today’s economic climate of small growth, companies can allow a little more room to experiment compared to five years ago when it was ‘stay safe, keep your buyers happy with the tried and tested, or die’, which it feels like the UK designers are doing. Another reason for the repetition in the US market could be due to the simple size of America, it being huge, it is slower to adopt new trends and smaller trends as the British market is. Having said this, I’m still going to weddings in both countries where the bride is wearing a strapless sweetheart – please leave it in the naughties, there are so many more flattering styles for all shapes!