CHRISTIAAN PHLEGER / JULES BLY
A Chantilly lace top with silk georgette ties is paired with a silk-satin skirt with a silk georgette waterfall train in Jules Bly's "Eloquent Flight," shown in Diamond White.
Designer Jules Bly shares her vision of sophisticated, sexy wedding gowns
I think we can all agree that the Cinderella complex -- with Prince Charming as every girl's savior -- is a very, very bad thing. Most women have discovered that the knight in shining armor, the perfect gent, doesn't exist, in the same way that the perfect woman doesn't exist. (Come on, now, you know it's true.)
So, while we're quashing myths, may I ask, Why do modern brides still buy into the notion of the Cinderella wedding dress? You know, the one with here a pouf, there a pouf, everywhere a pouf, pouf?
Considering that wearing a stiff, formidable balloon of a gown was just about every girl's childhood dream -- not mine, I envisioned a tea-length 1920s-styled ivory silk chemise -- and how very few childhood faves continue to seem cool in adulthood, isn't it time to embrace a new dream gown?
Jules Bly thinks so.
The designer from New Zealand will be in town from Thursday to Saturday for private consultations with brides-to-be, sharing her languid, liberated vision of the wedding gown.
One wouldn't expect New Zealand to be at the forefront of a matrimonial revolution, but the idea of the "destination" bridal gown has been popular there for 15 years, she said.
"It's just evolving in the United States now. I think girls are getting more used to thinking it's OK to have a nice, intimate wedding.
"Women are getting married at an older age, they've grown out of the fairy-tale fantasy of what a wedding gown should be. They want something more sophisticated, that also captures their individuality and spirit."
Her creations are fluid, body-conscious and -- dare we suggest to virginal brides -- sexy. Some of the skimpiest gowns might be mistaken, at a distance, for lingerie.
"If you look at my gowns, they don't look traditional, but they have tradition in them, in pure silks, in laces sourced from Europe. A lot are handmade in Italy, of the finest quality I can find. There are beads from Japan and crystals from Austria," she said.
Gowns start at about $3,500, and Bly has been creating gowns for Hawaii brides since fall 2003, after creating one for a Hawaii bride who tied the knot in New Zealand.
"One of the bridesmaids said to me, 'I wish we had someone like you in Hawaii,' and I thought, 'Hmmm, maybe that could be arranged.'"
CHRISTIAAN PHLEGER / JULES BLY
"Lucent Allure" brings together soft textures and a transparent asymmetrical midriff panel to create a touch of 1950s movie-star glamour.
BLY SAID she was designing clothes, including wedding and ball gowns, for her Barbie dolls since she was 4 years old.
In high school, while her friends kept busy with sports and dating, she was content to sew, taking a part-time job at a fabric store and plotting what she would create to wear on the job week after week.
She eventually was hired by a bridal designer and learned a lot at her side, saying, "At that point I realized what my passion was. She knew a lot about how to cut lace and other old skills that have been lost. There's only so much you can learn out of a textbook."
Of course, she started with that traditional puffy gown.
"It was the mid-'80s and everything was big in the '80s -- big hair, big shoulders, big weddings.
"It got to a point where more and more people were deciding they didn't want to invite the extended family and wanted a more intimate affair.
"In the States, the parents get involved, and you have to invite all their friends and associates, everyone from the bride and groom's office and apartment. I think the average number of guests attending a wedding in the U.S. is 300.
"After 9/11, I think people started realizing what was important, and it's not the big show, but having the people closest to you around you, and girls just want someone to tell them it's OK to not have the great big wedding, and it's OK not to have the great big princess gown because they're getting married on the beach."
After the wedding, compact gowns can easily be stored, and while some brides have suggested they would like to have the dresses shortened to wear on other occasions, Bly said, "I don't think there's a single case where that's happened. The girls form an emotional attachment to the dress after they've worn it. They know that's their wedding dress, and they don't want to cut it."
A halter gown of silk georgette, organza ribbon and silk-satin crepe features a beaded bodice and pearl-encrusted lace band.
THE WOMAN who has made gown dreams come true for many a bride has yet to become a bride herself, although Bly is engaged to be married here in June.
As for what she will concoct for herself, she demurs, "Well, that's the big secret, isn't it?
"Everyone's been asking and they think I'm being secretive, but the truth is I don't really know yet. If I tried to make the dress now, I would just change my mind.
"But I'm a perfectionist and that's part of my brand -- the quality of workmanship, the emphasis on details -- so I think it'll be pretty intricate."
Appointments for consultations with Jules Bly are being taken at 737-2850. More information is also available online at www.julesbly.com