Harrogate Bridal Show: Scottish bridal boutiques share their highlights
For over 30 years the Harrogate Bridal Show has been one of the key dates in bridal boutiques’ diaries.
It’s the go-to show for buying and checking out the latest offerings from bridalwear designers.
As well as meeting the designers and manufacturers face to face it’s where bridal retailers get to see the new wedding dresses in the flesh and spy out the new trends coming through.
The pandemic forced all this to go online but Harrogate was back this year with many of Scotland’s top bridal retailers making the trip to Yorkshire.
Here we catch up with a few for their take on this year’s offering…
After months of online meetings and selecting new gowns from images many retailers say it was refreshing just being able to get together.
“A highlight was just getting out and about again, meeting other salons and sharing our experiences,” says Susan from Opus Couture.
“After the last year of buying remotely and feeling a little isolated, as we all have, it was great to feel excited about the new collections, seeing the fashion show and see the new styles and collections moving forward.”
Lindsay from Alison Kirk Bridal Boutique adds, “We loved catching up with our existing designers and looking for new designers in person!
“We ordered from Justin Alexander, Lillian West and Adore earlier in the year and these dresses are due to arrive over the next month or two so it was great to actually see them in person – it has made us even more excited for them to arrive!”
In the flesh
Here at Your Scottish Wedding we’re used to poring over endless pictures of gorgeous gowns but never underestimate the impact of seeing (and feeling) them up close and personal.
“It’s night and day,” explains Karen from Anne Priscilla Bridal.
“You don’t know the quality of the fabrics. We need to be able to feel the weight of the fabric, the texture.
“We respond to sight and touch just as much as brides do and need to see them flow on the models.”
Susan at Opus Couture adds it’s so important to see the gowns in person to appreciate the intricate details and quality of fabrics that sometimes don’t show up on images.
“Being able to check out the internal structure so we would know the quality of support the dress could offer when ordering our samples in different sizes,” she says.
And she adds meeting the brands allows you to discuss options for cutomising, like adding hem lace or sparkle tulle layers.
Although boutiques adapted quickly to placing orders with designers from images throughout covid there are certain things that cannot be replicated.
Naydene from Sophia Grace Couture says, “At Harrogate designers have models on stand so you can not only see the detail on each gown, you can see how the fabric on the dress will move when worn which is hugely important.”
Best in show
You know the deal, you go shopping with a set list and come out with a few extras that just caught your eye.
It’s the same for bridal retailers.
Naydene from Sophia Grace Couture says, “We hadn’t intended on adding new designers to our collection. However, we couldn’t resist adding a few!”
One of those designers was Allure Couture. “Featuring luxe beading and textures, glamorous silhouettes and beautiful gowns, this collection is for the bride who certainly wants to make a statement on her bridal catwalk,” says Naydene.
She also added a new collection for bridesmaids and evening wear from Only Way.
“A multiway collection is something we have considered adding over the years,” she says.
“However we haven’t found a brand which fits well with us in terms of quality and style so we were delighted that we found this amazing brand.
“Not only are dresses designed in the UK they are also made in the UK therefore rush orders or last minute dress requests can be fulfilled.”
Concentrating on their British brands is also important to Anne Priscilla Bridal.
Karen says, “We made a couple of decisions about investing more with our British brands.”
This is particularly important for import reasons and some British brands have been stockpiling material.
This year are continuing the tradition with an exclusive piece for Anne Priscilla coming from the designer.
However, for the first time Allan Hannah is also designing an exclusive piece for the boutique.
“We also really want to be as eco-friendly as possible,” adds Karen. “A few of our British designers are doing 100% recycled fabrics, Stephanie Allin in particular.”
Meanwhile, Susan from Opus Couture’s highlight of the show was ‘Pickford’ from the Pronovias Privee Hollywood Glamour collection which will be in the West Kilbride store in October.
New season trend predictions
According to Karen from Anne Priscilla Bridal statement sleeves will be massive this season.
“There was a huge move towards them pre-covid and they’re something that’s come back,” she says.
“I’m talking about a real fashion sleeve. We’ve got lots coming in with them.”
Susan from Opus Couture adds that detachable sleeves were popular at the show.
“They’re a great option to change up the bride’s look throughout the day and offer better movement for dancing in the evening,” she says.
Another trend that stood out for Susan was square necklines on fitted and full skirts – “a very flattering shape.”
And she also loved leg splits. “Show a bit of leg and a bit of sass,” she says. “However, some of the designers will offer to sew them up if our bride prefers it without.”
Karen also says people are responding really well to texture, either in the form of added polka dots or floral appliqués.
And statement bows are also one of the trends to take note of, either as accessories or straps. Anne Priscilla is having some custom bows made especially.
Lindsay from Alison Kirk Bridal adds that bows were everywhere in various guises.
“There are traditional bows and more modern twists on the bow,” she says.
And Naydene says whereas pre-covid you could noticeably see changes in gown silhouettes with one season it being ballgowns and then next fitted, this year there was a real mixture from designers.
“There are more fashion forward looks with bold patterns, 3D lace and pearls, not to mention overskirts,” she says.
“It’s all about mixing up your look.
“More brides are opting to have a second gown for the evening reception or have an overskirt that can be removed to reveal an entirely different style to wow their guests.”
Don’t forget to accessorize
Remember your bridal look isn’t just limited to the dress alone.
There were plenty of accessory designers exhibiting at Harrogate too, whether it was for veils, capes, crowns or rings.
Lindsay from Alison Kirk Bridal Boutique says pearls are making a big comeback so look out for them in hairpieces, veils and jewellery.
Naydene from Sophia Grace Couture agrees statement pieces will be really on trend when it comes to accessories and so they placed many straight on their online sister store Always the Bride – “We just could not wait!”
And Opus Couture came home with one accessory a little bit different from the norm.
“We bought an ivory fedora hat which we just fell in love with for the quirky bride who wants something that bit different!” says Susan.
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