As we enter an era of less formality, the modern bride is welcoming the unconventional with informal wedding ceremonies, intimate nuptials, elopements and parties that take wedding day attire in a new direction.
If you’re looking to break free from the pressures of a traditional gown, there are endless options for a contemporary look (or looks). From ready-to-wear designers breaking into the bridal market to accessible modern bridal brands who are paving the way. It’s the rise of the anti-bride and these are the designers to know.
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British womenswear brand, Harmur, was founded by mother-daughter-daughter trio to create timeless backless tops made from sand-washed silk. For their debut bridal collection, the trio wanted to capture a mix of old school elegance and glamour alongside their signature modern-day effortlessness. Leaving behind the idea of contrived gowns, each piece is crafted from the brand’s signature silk satin or crepe, making their pieces drape and move effortlessly. Constance, Minnie and Matilda felt it was important to not only offer the perfect dress for your ceremony and reception but to also get excited about the dress for your party or your first dance – a true testament to the modern-day bride.
The OWN Studio
London-based designers and best friends Jess Kaye and Rosie Williams founded The OWN Studio to bring a contemporary aesthetic to wedding wear. Handmade at its London atelier, the label’s signature style combines pared-back, contemporary silhouettes with unexpected vintage details resulting in considered, minimal styles for the modern woman. The label’s ethos is to create bridal-meets-evening wear pieces that can become luxe wardrobe staples long after the wedding day. Their latest collection of designs is influenced by the OWN girl who is glamorous and relaxed all at once, with slinky silk dresses, dropped-waistlines and retro silhouettes that can be worn for the big day and beyond.
Founded by Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea, Taller Marmo fuses luxurious design with a 60s and 70s-inspired spirit. Defined by a modern take on occasion wear, the brand employs clean relaxed cuts in bold and empowering fabrics, and a focus on craftsmanship intertwines with a fun and fabulous spirit. Based in Milan, the label uses quality fabrics to craft eveningwear that embraces maximalist glamour, inspired by classic Hollywood icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. Their new collection, which launches 15th March 2024 and is the second bridal collection from the brand, boasts fluid draping, feather and fringed-trimmed dresses, mini lengths and modest kaftans.
It’s likely you already own a Reformation dress; they have been a hit for wedding guests, vacations and occasion dressing for years. But it’s also a one-stop shop for brides looking for wedding and bachelorette looks. The affordable price points (dresses start from just £370) mean you’re not breaking the bank for a one-day affair. You’ll find long silky slip dresses, lace minis and matching separates you’ll wear post-wedding too, and you can kit out your bridal party whilst you’re at it with their bridesmaid edit. Staying true to their commitment of becoming Climate Positive by 2025, three new styles – Elena, Winifred and Kavi – are made from Naia™️ Renew ES, a new sustainable silk alternative made with 40 per cent wood pulp and 60 per cent recycled waste materials.
Han Chong’s much-loved label has been worn by royals and A-listers since its launch in 2013, and the debut of his bridal collection in 2016 has been a similar triumph thanks to the affordability and versatility of his pieces. Seeing a gap in the market for cool, understated gowns, his collections are made from guipure lace, silk, crepe and chiffon in shades of white and cream: his feminine but fashion-forward aesthetic provides the perfect formula for occasion dressing, loved by the unconventional bride. Styles range from high-necked laced dresses to puff sleeved minis and beaded sequin maxis.
British-Lebanese fashion designer Nadine Merabi is known for her flamboyant evening wear and her collection of contemporary bridal options are perfectly suited for events surrounding the big day. Her newest collection, The Blanc Edit, which lands 15th February 2024, serenades you with white pearlised shimmers and bold details. Strong suits, feathered mini dresses and bold jumpsuits in brilliant white hues offer a wedding wardrobe for the party bride who wants to steer away from the traditional big white dress and make a statement in style. You’ll be sure to add the right kind of drama to your rehearsal dinner in her show stopping pieces.
Kate Halfpenny created her bespoke bridal dress business in 2005 with the aim to bridge the gap in the market for fashion-forward designs. Her refreshing approach to bridalwear made an immediate impact within the luxury bridal category, appealing to fashion-conscious, style-savvy women with a desire to express their individuality. Proud to design and make her garments in London, Halfpenny’s grown-up glamour combines stunning simplicity with modern detailing.
A contemporary bridal destination in East London, The Fall was created with modern, independent women in mind; it’s for those who don’t relate to the mainstream offering and want a relaxed yet elevated alternative to bridal shopping. The boutique’s designers are all carefully selected not only for their quality and style but also for their ethos and values. You’ll find a mix of British, American and Australian designers, each with a unique DNA.
This contemporary British fashion brand extended its offering into bridal wear in 2016, and at an affordable price point of under £700. The Whistles Wedding 2024 collection boasts a selection of timeless dresses, contemporary tailoring and chic jumpsuits for every type of ceremony; from beach nuptials to city hall celebrations. Comprising of 17 styles – five new this year – each name was inspired by romantic heroines, and fuses classic designs with playful twists for the modern bride looking to splurge on the honeymoon instead.
New Zealand born, London-based designer Emilia Wickstead is a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge and synonymous with timeless elegance and category-defining simplicity. Her core bridal collection offers couture-like architectural silhouettes juxtaposed with romantic, feminine details that epitomise the Emilia Wickstead design ethos. Add to this her sleek, oversized bows which are not only iconic, but beautifully timeless.
Discover the collection at the Emilia Wickstead flagship store (by appointment only) at 152-153 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9BXDISCOVER MORE
Starting as a demi-couture eveningwear brand, designer Daniela Karnuts launched her London-based label Safiyaa in 2011 with the idea of becoming the dressmaking equivalent of a Savile Row tailor. Luxury fabrics, artisanal techniques and precision silhouettes has seen her signature feminine tailoring become a favourite amongst celebrity clients including Jennifer Lopez and Meghan Markle, and she extended her best-selling classics into bridal wear in 2019. The 2024 bridal collection is timeless, chic and bespoke, imbuing a sense of confidence true to the brand’s DNA. Shapes are refined yet fresh, with scatterings of luxury details evoking a modern elegance that offers an alternative to traditional wedding gowns.
British designer Alice Temperley is known for her free-spirited bohemia, and her eponymous fashion label Temperley London is a whimsical mash of ornately embroidered dresses and feminine finishes. Her latest bridal collection, Aurora, was inspired by the ever present wedding accessory – the bouquet – which is celebrated through vine-like strap embellishments and intricately engineered garlands. Heavily embellished styles are imagined across Grecian inspired silhouettes, fluidity ever-present in Temperley’s dresses.
Appointments are held at their flagship store at: Phoenix Studios, Cornhill, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0ADDISCOVER MORE
Australian designer Rebecca Vallance has been designing since 2011, meticulously crafting ready-to-wear collections with the modern woman in mind and gathering an A-list following along the way. Rebecca’s bridal capsule Bella Rose, which is launching April 2024, is all about modern silhouettes crafted for the fashion-forward bride. Her structural dresses are awash with her signature bow detailing and grand-scale florals, and focus heavily on tactile textures like feathers, sequins and diamantés to etch an unforgettable presence. Shop for the rest of your bridal party too, as Rebecca also caters for bridesmaids, guests-of, and mothers of the bride.
Copenhagen-based fashion brand ROTATE is known for its retro-inspired dresses and impactful glamour, and their bridal offering continues to play on their signature sexy silhouettes by reimagining opulent, off-white fabrics for high impact. Feminine floral motifs play a prominent role throughout, adorning 80s-inspired shapes for the free-spirited bride. Catering for the contemporary bride with pieces suited for sun-drenched summer weddings, the Rotate woman is not afraid to subvert tradition. Their 2024 collection is due to drop soon, so watch this space.
The established London-based fashion house is celebrating forty years as a brand and is synonymous with its satin slip dresses and contemporary vintage feel. Their latest Modern Bride Capsule, launching 8th February 2024, boasts a collection of timeless satin separates and dresses true to the brand’s feminine aesthetic. The affordable price point is perfect for low-key weddings or a bride who’s looking for laidback luxury without spending a fortune. Read our Suitcase Series with Creative Director Sameera Azeem here.
You don’t have to look to dedicated bridal brands for your big day, and luxury online retailers like MATCHES and NET-A-PORTER have large, curated edits of wedding looks, from ceremony styles to the perfect reception outfit. Complete your look with shoes, bags, accessories and jewellery, as well as find pieces for the events surrounding the wedding, such as your honeymoon. You’ll find everything from your big-day-dress to the perfect white swimsuit under one roof.
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Image credit: The OWN Studio
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