Last Friday evening I found myself sitting at the judges table at the ZM Bride of the Century competition, as 19 gorgeous brides vied for a second honeymoon courtesy of Cook Island Tourism. In keeping with the theme of the competition, I have chosen a 21st century wedding gown this week. It is a flirty little wedding dress – just four frothy tiers of tulle – designed by Alber Elbaz for the fashion house Lanvin.
The gown is from Elbaz’s Resort Collection (Spring, 2008), which included four non-traditional wedding dresses in which Elbaz ‘reinterpreted some of his hits—bubbles, tiers of tulle, skimmy sheaths’ (Nicole Phleps, Style.com). Each version of the tiered tulle gown is individualised with different over-sized necklace. The gown in Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion from the V&A, London features a bold gold paste necklace, making it a somewhat more dramatic gown than the one illustrated below.
While Elbaz’s Resort Collection was well received by the fashion media, this particular little wedding dress shot to greater fame through the power of cinema. The dress was featured in the 2008 film Sex and the City: the movie, the plot of which revolved around Carrie Bradshaw’s forthcoming wedding to Mr Big (played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Christopher Noth respectively). One of the most celebrated scenes in the film features Carrie modelling a range of diverse wedding dresses for an American Vogue fashion shoot. In dizzying succession she poses in Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Christian Lacroix, Lanvin, Dior, Oscar de la Renta and Vivienne Westwood.
Each gown presents a different possibility of ‘Carrie the Bride’. The Lanvin dress is most often heralded as transforming the aging Carrie back into a carefree young woman.
The scene was styled by the real American Vogue team, many of whom play themselves in the film, including flamboyant editor-at-large, André Leon Talley who can be currently seen on the small screen as a judge on America’s Next Top Model. Patrick Demarchelier, one of fashion’s most revered photographers, is behind the camera.
On the big day, Carrie does not head for the aisle in the little Lanvin, but opts for a grand Vivienne Westwood gown – a decision that left one online fan wondering if things would have worked out better if Carrie had worn the Lanvin (check out Love Lanvin: a blog dedicated to Lanvin and Alber Elbaz).
Edwina Ehrman, curator of Unveiled, selected the Lanvin gown to illustrate the power of film and more crucially in the 21st century, of the internet. The high fashion scene prompted numerous online discussions on the merits of each dress, resulting in free and far reaching publicity for each of the six designers – publicity which translated into sales. When Vivienne Westwood designed a limited edition gown similar to the Carrie Gown, and put it on Net-A-Porter, an online retailer, it sold out within day despite its £4,530 price tag.
‘Wedding Dress of the Week’ is posted in conjunction with Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion from the V&A, London which is on display at Te Papa until 22 April 2012.