The hottest bridal dresses lay on luxe details

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      What’s hot in bridal wear this year? Karen Karras has four words for you: “Lace, lace, and lace.” And she would know: as the buyer and manager of Bryan’s Bride (4567 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby), she’s got her finger on the pulse of modern wedding wear. “I mean, it’s always been there, but 2014 is all about the lace,” says Karras, calling from the ready-to-wear bridal boutique in Brentwood Town Centre. “I think it’s because a lot of girls like the idea of having a vintage-inspired wedding—I hear that daily—and lace really lends itself well to a vintage feel.”

      One way to give this look some edge as well as some textural dimension is to layer ivory lace over champagne fabrics—so more Kate Moss, less Kate Middleton. A great example of this is the embroidered lace strapless sheath gown from the Madison Collection at Bryan’s, where dresses range from about $1,000 to $2,000.

      Another big trend this year is what Victoria Rucks—district manager of David’s Bridal Canada—refers to as “modern coverage”. Instead of the plain strapless frocks of yesteryear, there’s sheer mesh glammed up with jewel and lace embellishments around the neckline. The DB Studio sleeveless gown, for instance, has a sweetheart illusion neckline with some chunky bling detailing ($199 at David’s in RioCan Langley Centre). From afar, it looks like the bride is going strapless with a retro chandelier necklace, when in fact it’s one piece.

      This added sense of romantic mystery doesn’t just work well in the front, it also looks beautiful in the back. “If you’re having a church ceremony, people will be looking at your back most of the time,” Rucks explains, “so it gives your guests something to look at.” Such is the case with the gorgeous Galina Signature satin gown with beaded straps and a heart-shaped illusion back cutout—it’s a full-on showstopper from behind ($1,200 at David’s).

      In terms of hemlines, the most notable trend we’re seeing is the high-low style, as in the Oleg Cassini satin-over-tulle lace appliqué dress in whisper pink ($1,700 at David’s) and the totally adorable, supercasual, soft-white Galina chiffon gown with spaghetti straps ($549 at David’s)—perfect for a fresh-faced, low-maintenance bride.

      But aside from the occasional high-low cut, it’s still very much about the ball gown and the mermaid fit ’n’ flare. So not much new to report here—although local fashion and bridal designer Jason Matlo wishes there were.

      “What I’d like to see people get sick of is the princess dress,” says Matlo by phone from his Gastown studio (511–55 Water Street), where brides-to-be can check out his latest collection or have a custom-made dress designed. (Call ahead to book both.) “Even fashion-forward women come in and they literally want to look like a Disney princess. That’s the thing I’d like to see go away, but it never goes away.”

      Regardless of the dress’s silhouette, most bridal stylists agree that the big trend in accessories is wearing different accoutrements throughout the day. For instance, a bride could start out with a regal veil at the ceremony, then move on to a bohemian lacy wrap during the garden photo shoot, and finally switch things up with a dazzling fascinator for the reception.

      As for colours, the tried-and-tested way to venture beyond solid traditional whites (other than going pink à la Jessica Biel) is by adding a bold accent, like the black organza rosette sash that Matlo features with his stunning silk-taffeta and bouclé lace gown ($2,800).

      The key here is to rock only one standout accessory at a time. “Yeah, don’t overstyle on your wedding day, or else you’ll look like a cake topper,” Matlo warns.