Two weeks after the Spring 2019 ready-to-wear shows ended in Paris, we’re still flipping through the collections (nearly 500 of them!) to get a handle on the trends we’ll be seeing in six months. But sussing out the big news in bridal, which wrapped just last week, requires quite a different perspective. In the world of weddings, the changes from season to season can be quite slow, and certain things (like crystal-covered gowns, enormous ball skirts, and cathedral veils) always seem to be in demand. Bridal is only occasionally influenced by the runways, where the clothes are meant to reflect our real lives in the current moment; in contrast, bridal tends to be about fantasy.
Still, there were plenty of surprises in the Fall 2019 collections. Designers introduced playful new feathered embellishments, and since royal weddings tend to influence the bridal market—we’re still seeing long-sleeved lace gowns like the one the Duchess of Cambridge wore in 2011—there were a few nods to the Duchess of Sussex’s sculptural, minimalist Givenchy gown, too. Scroll through all of Fall’s top 7 bridal trends here.
Fashion loves a statement sleeve, and this season it translated to bridal in brand-new ways. Several designers used volume to update an otherwise-predictable off-the-shoulder gown—see Zuhair Murad’s puffs of lace and tulle or Galia Lahav’s dropped balloon sleeves—while Viktor & Rolf’s ruffled tulle sleeves had a touch of Victoriana, what with the high neckline and yoke detailing. The best part? With OTT sleeves, you can probably skip the fussy veil or heavy earrings.
Say “I Do” in a Caftan
Caftans are having a moment right now. To some women, the caftan is an elegant staple of modest fashion, while others simply appreciate the loose, no-fuss silhouette and boho 70s vibe. Celebrities have been wearing sparkling caftans on the red carpet, and for Fall 2019, bridal designers tried their hands at the trend: Naeem Khan’s came with his signature couture workmanship, but featured a sheer panel over the shoulders to let just a touch of skin peek through. Reem Acra’s was similarly covered-up-yet-sexy in beige tulle with gold embroidery. Tadashi Shoji’s was perhaps the most modern: a caftan/jumpsuit hybrid.
Birds of a Feather
Another point of overlap between the bridal collections and the recent ready-to-wear shows? Feathers! Saint Laurent, Loewe, and Dries Van Noten had extra-special feathered looks and accessories in their collections, and Marchesa showed delicate feathered gowns and tulle jackets for bridal. Reem Acra’s lavender gown was covered in plumes, and spoke to another Fall 2019 trend—color.
The Meghan Markle Effect
Last season, several bridal designers showed would-be gowns for the Duchess of Sussex’s big day. Their ideas mostly included regal, long-sleeved lace gowns—which turned out to be quite different from the sleek, bonded-satin Givenchy number she actually wore. Since the bridal market operates a full year in advance, we’ll probably have to wait until Spring 2020 to see designers’ interpretations of that dress, but in the meantime, women who share the royal’s minimalist style will gravitate toward the pared-back, ultra-clean gowns at Amsale and Cushnie. Prepare to see more high-neck halter gowns like the Stella McCartney dress Markle wore to her reception, too; this season, Tadashi Shoji offered a similar version with touches of lace.
Skip the White Wedding
At this point we’re not surprised by colorful wedding dresses, but the concept is still catching on in the mainstream. Fall 2019 offered a few standout options for daring brides: Vera Wang’s ice-blue tulle number and jet-jeweled bra was a bold departure from bridal white, ditto Marchesa’s first-ever blush pink gown. Lela Rose and Carolina Herrera’s Wes Gordon incorporated quieter hints of color: Rose’s guipure lace gown was embroidered with blush, white, and cream, while Gordon wrapped a mint-green sash around a white lace ball gown (and added yellow satin pumps, to boot).
Free Your Mind—And Your Legs!
Remember when changing into a “second dress” for your reception seemed over-the-top? Now that every moment is an Instagram opportunity, designers have been offering looks for all wedding occasions: the bridal shower, the rehearsal dinner, the morning-after brunch, even the engagement party. The fun minidresses we saw at Elie Saab, Viktor & Rolf, and Vera Wang would work nicely for all of the above, but we like the idea of actually wearing one down the aisle, too. There’s something youthful and rebellious about a mini, and shorter lengths are starting to reappear in ready-to-wear, too.
The Duchess of Sussex’s 16-foot veil looked gorgeous on the steps of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. But for us non-royals, a massive veil can feel a bit fussy and impractical. Plenty of brides are skipping veils altogether, but if you still want a bit of that old-world drama, Fall 2019 had shorter, easier options. Marchesa’s shoulder-length veil had a bit of ’20s charm with beaded fringe; Zuhair Murad’s was trimmed with with classic lace; and Reem Acra’s elbow-length veils were dyed to match her peach or mint-green dresses.
This article first appeared on Vogue.com