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Behind the Dress: Gretchen

Gretchen Gown
Art: Vera Wang

Gretchen takes a strong stand. I love the statuesque quality of this gown. I see the Gretchen bride as someone who definitely wants all eyes on her! But there’s even more happening here beneath the bold silhouette.

The surface of the dress is waffle organza all over, but under that, the main body is a flat faille, which is a stiffer fabric that I’ve allowed to peek through the organza layer. And the reason you want to see the faille is because it’s hand-painted: we used a very elaborate technique to re-create the pattern of shadow that a lace would throw on the fabric, so even though there’s no lace in this very modern gown, the suggestion of lace is all over. When the hand-painted faille peeks through the organza it’s oh-so-subtle, and the effect is just magnificent. I love being able to draw on the classical tradition, the vocabulary of lace, without actually adding the lace: the hand-painting is such a wonderfully artistic way to achieve this, and there’s even something traditional about the act of hand-painting itself.

In the back, we’ve left the corset exposed. This is done to give dramatic flair, so you can see what’s supporting the bodice in the back at the same time as you’re taking in that swoop and flow of the gown, and it’s an exciting contrast. It’s also a very modern, contemporary look, and it has the added effect of highlighting the sash, for another contrast. The sash is a huge part of this dress: it’s actually been integrated into the folds of the gown itself, inside the draping, so as much as it pops and as stark as it is, there is a beautiful subtlety in the way it retreats again. It’s almost playful, it really stirs your interest.

Also with the back of this dress, I’ve called once more on the principles of ‘wabi-sabi’, which is the Japanese term for the subtly disordered detail, the thing that you take just a little out of its place, so that the whole picture suddenly becomes perfect. I wanted to create the perfect ‘wabi-sabi’ effect with the asymmetrical gown tuck you see here right near the derriere: it becomes a place where your eye zooms in and just gets thrilled.

Browse the Fall 2011 Bridal Collection.

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