Vera Wang

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Behind The Dress | Lillian

Tulip Chantilly lace mermaid gown with hand pieced circular flange train and mum garden hemline.

The mermaid gown is always one of my most popular silhouettes, because it brings together two things a bride always has on her mind for her wedding day:  she wants to look sexy, and she wants to be unbelievably glamorous. In the first place, a well-sculpted shape can do the trick, and for show-stopping splendor, you really want a full, dramatic skirt.

Lillian is a quintessential mermaid gown with a sweetheart neckline, but with one important modification: the skirt flares out a bit higher than usual, right at the knee, so she can be worn by petite or taller brides alike. So you get that beautiful, completely seamless, sculpted body combined with just slightly more volume at the skirt — it’s an explosion of textures made all the more dramatic by the extreme contrast of the molded shape on top.

I find that this particular base is especially well-suited to the themes I explored in this collection — delicate lacework mixed with bold, bursting blossoms. The entire body of the gown is covered in the collection’s signature tulip and rose patterned Chantilly lace — so elegant in its simplicity, and very glamorous. I love the clean sophistication of all-over lace — with this kind of silhouette, the lace speaks for itself, so there’s no need for any additional embellishment.

But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a dramatic finish! The skirt is where those extra flourishes come in, a bold exclamation mark at the base of the dress. So where the dress flares out, there are these big, round, three-dimensional petals made from hand-rolled pieces of organza. They look like chrysanthemums, forming a mum “garden” at the hemline. They’re very textural. The flowers toward the top of the skirt are very small, and then they get bigger and more explosive as you get towards the bottom. Barely grazing the floor, they just float at the hem, sprouting quite organically, with no set pattern.

Then, I took tulle and little horsehair ribbons to make a floating flange overlay — a cage of horsehair ribbons and tulle. It gives the skirt a different kind of transparency: the light hits all those different veiling textures, and plays against them. So even though there’s all this fabric, the transparencies give it so much movement and lightness.

Lillian personifies the romantic siren, and really takes lace and floral motifs in a fresh, sexier direction. It’s all about inventing new classics and redefining heirlooms for the modern woman!


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