Brides Call the Shots More Than Ever

With more brides-to-be wanting their wedding days to be unlike any others, bridal designers are stepping up to meet their demands.

with contributions from Marc Karimzadeh
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The designer's 26 styles include a sleeveless tulle gown embroidered with circular motifs, a column dress of Guipure lace and a pleated satin chiffon gown. The pieces include details such as pleated taffeta trains, crochet embroidery and tiered tulle. De la Renta's collection also includes a few bridal accoutrements, including veils, shoes and handbags. The spring bridal launch is expected to be accompanied by a stand-alone advertising campaign.

"It is a reflection of what I do in ready-to-wear, and how I see women dress today," de la Renta explained a few days before his show last week. "[With bridal], the girls are much more fashion-conscious than the same girls were 20 or 30 years ago."

Bolen added that while de la Renta designed custom-made dresses for brides in the past, "We will not be in that business anymore. This is our bridal business now."

The collection, which has suggested retail prices from about $4,500 to $15,000, targets a tight distribution to upscale specialty stores and better bridal boutiques. For now, the bridal collection will not be sold in the existing Oscar de la Renta boutiques, since they don't have the space to devote to a separate bridal area.

Bolen, who wouldn't disclose specific sales projections for the line, said in the short term, the business could generate revenues in the low single-digit millions. "We can grow it to several times that size," he noted.

Priscilla of Boston hopes to attract more designer customers with its new Priscilla Platinum collection, which is designed by Kenneth Pool. During a preview of the collection earlier this month, Pool said the 19-piece collection will wholesale from $2,200 to $5,500 and be sold at Priscilla of Boston's 10 stores, as well as at select specialty stores like Kleinfeld.

Pool, whose résumé includes runs at Amsale, Reem Acra, Vera Wang, Bob Mackie, Arnold Scaasi and Bill Blass, has seen a shift in terms of what brides are buying. "The girls I'm getting in are spending a lot more money. They want something on a higher level and not just fashion."

Gary Schwartz, president of the Consohocken, Pa.-based Priscilla of Boston, which also makes Melissa Sweet and Us Angels dresses, agreed. "For a period of time, certain styles could have lasted on the sales floor for several years, but now fashion is moving faster than ever before."

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