Millie Martini Bratten has been Editor-in-chief of Brides magazine for the last 16 years. (The magazine itself just celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.) With an eye for all that bridal history, we asked her to give her thoughts on 20 years of Vera Wang wedding gowns.
When Vera first came on the scene in 1990, “bridal gowns” and “fashion” were two separate concepts. Personal style—and certainly high fashion—took a backseat to what a wedding gown was “supposed” to look like. At that time, brides were still expected to appear modest, feminine, and pure, not sexy or modern. Sensing that women wanted to look like the best versions of themselves on their wedding day rather than someone else’s ideal, Vera took a head-to-toe approach, rethinking everything from wedding-day hair and makeup to shoes and accessories. She broke the rules with innovative uses of fabric, color and shape. She combined her respect for the gravity of the occasion with a real sense of style to create a uniquely modern approach to dressing the bride.
Vera not only made brides feel sexy, she made creating bridal dresses a sexy pursuit. Prior to her entry onto the bridal scene, only a handful of fashion designers also made wedding gowns, and most only did so occasionally. Today, new designers or trendy retailers emerge nearly every season. And each season, Vera continues to evolve and bring something fresh to the market. Her dresses are of-the-moment but not trendy, timeless with a nod to tradition. Chelsea Clinton’s strapless, soft, layered tulle ball gown with a sparkly beaded belt is a good example. Vera walks the fine line of pushing the limits of fashion in her designs, yet creating something that’s unmistakably a wedding dress.
Some memorable standouts are the first dress we photographed for Brides magazine in 1991 — a satin ball gown, covered to the neck and wrists that had a dramatic black border on the hem of the dress and a single black bow at each wrist. Simply striking. Others include a light-as-air dress with intricate, never-ending folds; a classic ball gown covered in tulle with raw edges; dresses with hand painting, chunky jeweled accents, ombre shading —all created with the latest innovation and style in mind, but with an eternal quality at heart.
You can find daily wedding planning inspiration from Millie and the rest of the Brides Magazine editors on their blog, Brides Daily.