It’s official: the catwalk is influencing our big day decisions. Emirates Bride investigates whether the white dress is about to be overthrown by its colourful counterparts.  

For over a century a big white dress has been synonymous with the big day, but all that is starting to change with many modern brides-to-be ditching tradition in favour of high fashion.

The white dress became popular in Western society after Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840. She walked down the aisle in a gown of white satin, trimmed with white lace based upon the veil she wore with a crown of orange blossoms. It fast became the hue of choice for the upper classes. Before this, the norm of the wedding dress was that of practicality rather than a symbolism of tradition and romance. The lower classes, especially, would wear the dress again and again for many occasions at which white would not be allowed. Dresses were often red or even black. Jane Austen’s mother, Cassandra Leigh, wore a red dress for her 1764 wedding. It was documented that she subsequently wore it on many occasions and at its demise, it was tailored into a hunting jacket for her nine-year-old son. Recycling at its best.

Royalty still sways our tastes with Kate Middleton’s Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen creation being highly emulated. However, celebrity and catwalk are changing the rules and statements are encouraged….

Celebrity Trend…


Gwen Stefani, 2002 | Jessica Biel 2012 | Elizabeth Taylor, 1964

Celebrities and unconventional wedding dresses began to emerge with the very much unconventional actress Elizabeth Taylor. Marrying a total of eight times, her first wedding saw her in a classic white silk dress. From there, however, the hues were more elaborate — especially the yellow dress in 1964 and an emerald green number in 1975, both weddings to Richard Burton. While she may have been among the first bold A-list brides she wasn’t the last. Dita Von Teese wed in a purple Vivienne Westwood number, and this colour was also a popular choice with director Sofia Coppola, who wore Azzedine Alaïa for her 2011wedding.

Sex And The City co-stars Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker decided to reign in on their fashion status with Cynthia choosing a green Carolina Herrera gown while Sarah opted for black. SJP did hint, however, that she will return to the more traditional white when she renews her vows : “I’d wear a beautiful, proper wedding dress, like I should have worn on the day.”

On the other end of the spectrum, it appears this is the decade of the blushing bride. In 2002, Gwen Stefani first donned a hot pink dip-dyed creation by John Galliano for Dior. Reese Witherspoon in 2011 decided to revive the trend, opting for a Monique Lhuillier pale pink number and although we all questioned it at the time, 2012 saw two more celebrity icons take the plunge: Jessica Biel in Giambattista Valli Haute Couture and Anne Hathaway in Valentino. Both custom and both pink.


On the runway…

It’s not only celebrity weddings influencing the masses, but after the S/S13 runway shows, brides will have an array of colourful gowns to choose from, especially as the trend filters down to the masses. Valentino and Elie Saab sent pastel creations sauntering down the runway with embellishments that ranged from lace to eccentric beading, whilst Oscar De La Renta and Vera Wang choose bright blues and reds. This trend was not just the designers wanting to create avant-garde, statement pieces but because there truly is demand for such dresses.

This is not to say there aren’t plenty of traditional and non-traditional brides who still favour white, ivory and cream for their big day. But it appears women who want to make a statement can make one, without worrying so much about traditions and society’s expectations.

Real-Life Brides…


“For my wedding we decided to have a total of three different ceremonies. I’m of Chinese descent and my husband is a Scottish Muslim, so we really wanted to reflect the mixed cultures and traditions from both our backgrounds, which of course would please our families. My first dress was for my Chinese tea ceremony. I wore a red, heavily embellished number, whilst my second was Malayinspired in a champagne colour, with aqua beading. My third dress was a beautiful white number with hardware accents, for our wedding dinner. The embellishments on the dresses held a certain sentiment to me, as they truly showed my personality. I’m the designer behind Klutched handbags, so I used details from my designs to add an element of me and what I love into the dresses.”


“My husband and I chose a gorgeous French chateau in the South West of France for our big day venue. I knew my dress would have to be the perfect match. I initially set out to find a vintage style dress but nothing suited me. I eventually fell in love with a Lela Rose silk gazar strapless number, which was the most beautiful pale blush colour. The dress was made up of soft unstructured layers of silk gazar, and encapsulated that romantic whimsical look I was going for. Being blonde, the colour softened the entire look and complemented my skin tone. To complete the look I chose pale, simple peonies for my bouquet.”


Images: Getty and provided