After an abbreviated but hopeful Spring 2021 Bridal Week, the Fall 2021 season returned in full-force-ish.
Due to the pandemic, instead of rushing all over New York City to see in-person shows and presentations, the event went virtual, with video presentations and Zoom appointments for much-appreciated social interaction. Perusing bridal dresses and separates never fails to bring the warm and fuzzies, but it's also impossible to look to the upcoming wedding seasons without considering the unpredictability and uncertainty in the months ahead. Fittingly, the Fall 2021 offerings really do cover a wide spectrum of wedding celebrations and style preferences.
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Understandably, escapism is a consistent theme (ranging from incredible fairy tales to travels to romantic locations and time periods.) Practicality also dominates, with versatile and buildable layers — plus garden motifs, fitting for outdoor, socially-distanced weddings. But a few notable trends emerge to reflect our current reality and sentiments, including the most celebratory wedding gowns, because we really, really need that feeling right now.
Keep reading for the top 12 bridal trends for Fall 2021.
Maximalism solidly — and kind of surprisingly — counters the minimalism we expected to see in the upcoming season. In the year of our lord 2021, why stop the fulfillment of one's ultimate, most elaborate wedding vision?
Japanese fashion favorite Tomo Koizumi collaborated with retailer Treat Maison for a capsule of cotton candy confections. Galia Lahav takes inspiration from world famous ballerinas for voluminous tutu layers. Halfpenny London illustrates its "out of this world" theme through an appliquéd cosmic cage gown. Plus, Los Angeles-based Kynah's ultra-glam bridal collection features opulent embroidery and billowing ballgown skirts for South Asian weddings.
Minimalism has been going strong for a few bridal seasons now (probably also thanks to Meghan Markle). But streamlined options make total sense right now, especially for mini-weddings, socially-distanced outdoor ceremonies and after-nuptials celebrations. But clean doesn't mean plain. Rather, expect to see luxe fabrics (silk charmeuse, crepe and Mikado) and intricate details, like Brussels-based Valentine Avoh's curved drop-waistline and perfect pleats, Savannah Miller's exquisite 3D beading trim and Amsale's sculptural mermaid silhouette and deep-V neckline.
Travel opportunities are sadly limited for the foreseeable future, but bridal designers take us on a journey for Fall 2021, both to destinations of our dreams (and precious memories) and storied decades past.
Miller explores British medieval mythology of Lady of the Lake. Los Angeles-based Odylyne the Ceremony revisits films like "Dracula" and "Crimson Peak" for its gothic-cool Vampira collection. Valentine Avoh channels Old Hollywood through "Sunset Boulevard." Meanwhile, France remains a popular source of inspiration for designers: Gracy Acaad journeys to Versailles, Marchesa studies 17th century French design philosophy and BHLDN takes a jaunt to Paris.
Fairy Tale Florals
Nature motifs flourish throughout the 2021 collections, from blooming floral appliqués to beaded vines to "The Secret Garden"-esque butterflies that practically fly off the gowns. Naeem Khan goes fantastical in his "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired designs, Mira Zwillinger looks to fairy tales for her ethereal gowns and Eisen-Stein, Elie Saab and Alexandra Grecco interpret dreamscape flowers and gardens.
Along with offering styling creativity, bridal layering options provide a sartorial safeguard in the unpredictable planning landscape of 2021. A detachable shrug at Eisen-Stein or a Victorian-style lace crop top at Elizabeth Fillmore adds flair to a column gown, plus coverage for adjusting to a cooler season wedding date. Of course, a cape offers warmth, along with added drama, especially if it's covered in embroidery, embellishments and tiers of tulle. (Ines di Santo's pink feathery bolero feels especially festive.)
Exaggerated Puff Sleeves
The puff sleeve from earlier seasons enjoys the supersized treatment for Fall 2021. Designers enjoy playing with size, shape and length, like mutton sleeves on a Jacquard bolero at Vivienne Westwood and shoulder-baring volume at Odylyne the Ceremony.
Dreamy Cap Sleeves
The classic, barely-there cap sleeve takes on all forms for Fall 2021 with delicate lace, fluttery sheer organza and lush floral appliqués. For Kosibah, New York-based Nigerian-British couturier Yemi Osunkoya opts for an alluring off-the-shoulder draping on a mermaid silhouette. Mexican-American designer Gustavo Nuñez interprets the style with an architectural power shoulder for the debut of his line, Verdin Bridal.
Fashion is a reflection of our times, so the prevalence of intricate, complicated asymmetry in the upcoming collections definitely tracks. Designers creatively channel the aesthetic into glorious bias-cut draping, stunning variations on the one-shoulder silhouette and even an oversize bow placed askew at Rivini by Rita Vinieris.
The late-'90s and early-'2000s style markers have jumped from the international runways (and binge-able fashion content) to the wedding aisles. Lean into nostalgia through the details: handkerchief tops (and hemlines) at Ines di Santo and BHLDN, apron dresses at Jenny by Jenny Yoo and Alexandra Grecco, backless halters at Temperley London and square necklines at Justin Alexander Signature and Woná Concept. "That's loaded!"
After-Party in the Front, Ceremony in the Back
The high-low wedding dress offers a compromise between a black-tie ballgown and flirty mini. Notables from the Fall 2021 season include Danielle Frankel (a.k.a. Zoë Kravitz's bridal biker shorts designer)'s deconstructed, lace-trimmed design and Viktor & Rolf Mariage's stunning Marguerite rosette embellished cathedral train. Detachable overskirts, like Vivienne Westwood's and Galia Lahav's, also offer two-looks-in-one.
Updated Wedding Trousers
Jumpsuits, trouser separates and pantsuits continue as a bridal mainstay, but this season, the styles offer more inspired details and versatility. Kosibah and Danielle Frankel both transform a power pantsuit into languid, pajama silhouettes, while Naeem Khan adds a structured overskirt to his jumpsuit. Added bonus: During a time when we really need our investments to go the extra mile, these looks really can be worn again.
All the Little White Dresses
For Fall 2021, the mini-wedding-dress feels especially festive, especially as a standalone look for big day alternatives. Extra embellishments like bows, glittery fringe, feathers, statement jewel work or tiers of ruffles make a statement, whether during an in-person intimate wedding or a virtual Zoom ceremony.