The Bridal Fashion Revolution Is Here

From left images courtesy of Floravere, Sahroo, and Lein.

Meet the designers who are leading it

Last week, I walked to a just-opened bridal boutique in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood. Expecting to be greeted with a typical window display of white gowns, I walked right past Floravere's storefront, which featured a riotous, flower-filled window display instead of what would ordinarily have been there: more of the same.

When I noted this to Molly Kang, co-founder of the bridal fashion brand, she smiled, "That's kind of the point." Having launched in 2016 by Kang and Denise Jin, Floravere has made a name for itself as the first direct-to-consumer, made-to-order brand that offers luxury wedding looks—made by a team that "hails from the foremost names in bridal" from "the same fabrics and construction as runway brands"—at much more affordable prices. (The majority of looks fall under $2,000 which, while not affordable to all, is a steal when compared to wedding dresses of the same quality currently on the market).

"Floravere was born out of personal frustration going through the wedding dress shopping process. For such a big purchase in our lives, we were shocked at how old-school the experience was, and even more shocked by the price tags," said the duo, whose website proclaims that "the bridal revolution is here." They continued, "It seemed like every dress we loved or saved on Pinterest cost $10,000 or more, while the dresses in-budget were crunchy, mass-produced, and not chic."

Photograph courtesy of Floravere.

Three years later, they're continuing to make waves with the opening of their first bridal concept store—one which just so happens to list Serena Williams as an investor. In addition to having an unassuming entrance, the store boasts a beauty bar and showroom that sells swimwear from Solid & Striped and travel essentials from Cuyana among other items. Their approach to helping a bride have as easy as possible an experience also stands out—stylists communicate with the bride prior to her appointment by text messages or Instagram DM, rather than email or phone call. They also ensure that the pre-selected styles will wait for the bride-to-be in the private suite, where there will also be a mood board, a custom playlist, and a tablet positioned in a way to capture 360-degree dress shots ("because how many times has a mom taken a photograph of just the bride's chin instead of the full dress?" asked Kang).

"Traditional boutiques feel a bit like bridal factories, whereas we wanted to create an experience that feels much more personal, intimate, and calm," the two said. "Every detail of the design—from the private bridal styling closet to the in-store retail technology—is guided by an understanding that our bride has started the discovery and shopping process online, and so we can meet her halfway."

It's this same understanding of its customer that led Sahroo—a fashion brand launched in 2018, and originally inspired by the "ease and elegance" of the matching sets often worn in founder Sarah Abbasi's native Pakistan—to start a bridal collection this April. After Abbasi noticed that a pantsuit in off-white was selling particularly well, her interest was piqued. "Because we're a direct-to-consumer brand, we were able to talk to our clients and figure out what was happening. It turned out that all of these girls were brides, and they were getting married and looking to wear something that wasn't a traditional dress," she told me. "The more that we dove into that space, the more interesting it became."

Her research resulted in the brand's debut bridal collection, featuring white sets made up of hand-embellished shorts and a matching caftan with an oversized bow, slim trousers with a feather-trimmed crop top, silk flower-adorned capri pants and structured blazer, and a slip dress with slits so high it needs to be thrown over a pair of flared trousers (the brand's "interpretation of the gown"). "We had an opportunity to be integrated around something that isn't a white gown. There are so many very, very talented designers that do that incredibly well already," Abbasi said. "[Instead,] Sahroo is thinking, How can we dress our brides in something that isn't that gown?"

Photograph courtesy of Sahroo.

But the collection isn't just for the girl who wants to wear pants—though, for obvious reasons, it will appeal to her too. "When we were looking at the collection, we were thinking about how we can wear it again. [In addition to the wedding,] they can wear it to work, they can wear it to a girlfriend's lunch. That was very intentional," said Abbasi. "It shouldn't be that a garment has a life span of one day and then hangs in a closet." That desire for versatility is, according to Abbasi, "a really integral part of our design process," one that's relatable to any modern bride who has cringed at the thought of spending such a big chunk of money on an outfit that will only be worn once.

Instead, a lot of brides are now using the budget typically reserved for one wedding-day outfit on multiple looks for other wedding-adjacent occasions, like bridal showers, bachelorettes, engagement parties, and rehearsal dinners. Just recently, one of my friends selected a lower-cost wedding dress so that she could also purchase a jumpsuit from the same brand for one of her other events. "What's really interesting is that in the year that we've been here—between last year and this year—is the sheer number of looks. When I look at our orders, people aren't buying just one outfit, they're buying two or three outfits because the culture of weddings has changed so much," Abbasi said. "It's gone from a few wedding weeks to almost a wedding year."

This idea, that a wedding-day look can (and should) go beyond just one day, is what inspired Meredith Stoecklein to launch Lein in 2016. While studying at Parsons, Stoecklein was approached by a friend to make a wedding dress for her to change into after the ceremony. "I designed a cotton-raffia woven mini dress with silk organza trim to go with a pair of suede sneakers. A year later, her husband came up to me at a dinner party to tell me she had worn the dress I made her to their anniversary dinner last week, and that it took him right back to their wedding in Argentina, dancing until six in the morning," she said. "That feeling I had when he told me was the spark of Lein—I knew I wanted to design dresses that created memories."

After realizing that "there was such a missed market for wedding dresses with a ready-to-wear approach," she began launching tightly curated collections of fashion-forward midi dresses in Swiss dot–like fabric, satin pantsuits, ruffled jumpsuits, and maxi shirt dresses. Her latest collection takes it a step further into the ready-to-wear territory with a blazer dress, a loose utility jumpsuit, and a spaghetti strap mini dress. "I think more women are wearing what they want to wear [to their weddings]," she told me. "They are still honoring the traditions and meaning of weddings, but choosing to wear something that best suits their personality and their style."

Photograph courtesy of Lein.

It's the desire to, in the words of Kang and Jin, "disrupt the stuffy, antiquated, and sometimes predatory bridal industry," that links this new wave of bridal fashion designers and brands, that also includes the likes of Danielle Frankel and Reformation. "To date, the bridal industry has been totally dictated by tradition and outdated assumptions about brides... and the subtext of some of those assumptions are really antiquated and systemic. Just one example of this is the term 'bridezilla'—with the amount of money that a wedding costs, why is a woman who has high standards or is discerning labeled a 'bridezilla' when a man spending less money to buy a car would be considered smart and thoughtful?" asked Kang and Jin. "To us, the bridal revolution represents breaking all the rules and assumptions wrapped around weddings and empowering our brides to have the experience they deserve."

In addition to offering lower prices for high-quality dresses, they're breaking another antiquated rule by offering samples in extended sizes, a decision they made after hearing from "brides who felt alienated by the bridal industry's approach to sizing." They explained: "Boutiques typically carry samples in one size only, and bridal sizing traditionally runs very small compared to contemporary fashion [street sizing]. That means most women are putting on samples that don't even remotely fit, and are then made to feel on display and paraded around in front of an audience at a time when they feel particularly vulnerable." As someone who's covered weddings for years, this is a story I am familiar with; bigger-sized brides often can't find even one sample in the store that fits—let alone looks good or is within their price range—so they have to order and pay for a dress in hopes that it will look good when made for their measurements. Being direct-to-consumer, Floravere was able to act quickly on the feedback and offer samples ranging from street size 6 to 24 in its showrooms "so that our brides can feel empowered in their own bodies at any size."

Photograph courtesy of Floravere.

Sahroo, likewise, attempts to disrupt the traditional model by using recycled materials for packaging and partnering with One Tree Planted to plant five trees for every order placed, as well as employing artisans that collaborate with the design team to hand-dye and hand-embellish the pieces—something that she doesn't see as mutually exclusive. "When going back to this ancient way of making garments, [I thought,] How can we honor those traditions and keep the beauty of them while being as sustainably-minded as possible while we go through this?" said Abbasi.

As more women are rejecting rules that society has once imposed on them, more brides are similarly rejecting the idea that a white dress is the only acceptable thing to wear at a wedding. This refusal to follow the cookie-cutter wedding formal is what, according to Kang and Jin, has "translated into an increasing appetite for wearing a gown that might be considered a little non-traditional or outside of the expected bridal uniform—whether that means wearing color or something that takes inspiration from the red carpet or perhaps a non-Western culture or heritage."

Abbasi seconded that based on her experience getting to know her brides: "We've had tons of intercultural, interfaith, same-sex couples come in, and I think that's what's fascinating. Our brides are incredibly diverse, but what pulls them together is this mindset that they want to be very beautiful but very secure and strong," she said. "What resonates is modern love."

As more brides demand wedding-appropriate styles that are as unique as their love stories, more designers will have to follow suit. "We are living in a time of change and women are more empowered than ever, and it's trickling down to how we shop, how we dress, and how we want to feel on our wedding day," said Stoecklein. "Bridal is modernizing, it's evolving like the rest of the world."

Good thing we have designers like this already paving the way down the aisle.

Illustration by Vivie Behrens

Liberation can come from completion, but then, we are always becoming something new

They say the full moon is about completion. About looking back at the intentions you crowned the new moon with and seeing where those intentions led you. The new moon in Gemini was the pebble that began this cycle, and the full moon in Sagittarius is her echo, the ring getting larger in the water. The new moon in Gemini asked us what we wanted to change about our habits, what we wanted to do with our hands, and our hunger for newness. The new moon in Gemini was interested in the way shifting ideas can give us the freedom to think differently and, in thinking differently, become new people. The full moon in Sagittarius reminds us that we are never not becoming new.

Both Gemini and Sagittarius are mutable signs, they exist in relation to the other and they know how to speak each other's language. But, while Gemini relishes the endless capacity of air (of thought), Sagittarius uses the energy of fire to transform thought into action. Everything Sagittarius touches can't help but change. How can this be completion? The wheel is always spinning, reader. Sagittarius marks the completion of the fire trine. Here, fire is generous and social. It means to gather and teach, to illuminate. Sagittarius lives in the sector of the zodiac chart related to education, philosophy, and the awareness of others—their beliefs and their right to freedom. Because of this, our June Sagittarius full moon is both a completion moon and a moon that reminds us that all endings create space for beginning. The more you leave behind, the more you find. There is no dead end in the universe.

If you are a seeker like me (perhaps you have lots of planets in Sagittarius in your natal chart), you have already come across Jessica Dore's Twitter account. Every day, Dore posts a tarot card and her interpretation of it. It is a gift to many of her readers. Yesterday, she shared The World with us, reminding her readers: "the moments of beauty, belonging & elation that you've experienced up to this point in your life… would still only amount to the tiniest sliver of what this world has to offer in terms of sweetness & pleasure."

I thought about this card and her words all day. The World is, numerically, the last card in the Major Arcana journey—the last card if you don't think about the Fool, who is numbered at 0 and so is the beginning and the end. The World is, therefore, a completion card too, a big echo of a full moon.

This morning, holding the sweet and expansive nature of The World, thinking on Sagittarius people and their love of travel, of reckoning with the edge of an atlas and questioning the map-makers, I pulled the nine of swords from my own Tarot deck. The other side of knowledge is to overwhelm and shut down. Gemini, ruled by Mercury, holds information in her hands. She understands duality in all things. Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, yearns for the expansion of mind and the illumination of power. The philosopher and the moralist, a Sagittarius at her best can teach anyone to break open a prison. A Sagittarius at her worst can justify any cage. Don't forget that Jupiter was the king of the gods. His lightning bolt was a weapon. Sometimes, we are too exposed to each other. We imagine we know others through the stories we create about one another. We imagine we know the future because we refuse to be humble about how vulnerable we are to the universe's ever-shifting outcomes. We refuse abundance by convincing ourselves that the cage of identity we build for ourselves is our only possibility.

For the next two days, as the Sun lingers in Gemini and we feel the effects of the moon's fullness in Sagittarius, reflect on the ways you have used knowledge. When has your knowledge been a tool of empowerment for yourself and others? When have you shared the beauty of the world and the joy of radical ideas/ways of living? When have you used knowledge to understand and relieve your own suffering and the suffering of others? And, too, when have you used knowledge as permission for self-delusion? When you have expanded so far into your idea of the world and your own work in it that you forgot how to be accountable to your daily life, your body, your friends, and the people you love? You know when Janis Joplin sings "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose"? That's only one kind of freedom, and it's the kind that Sagittarius thinks it knows very well. Freedom can be about nothing, if nothing is what you want. Then welcome to the monastery, friend. Freedom can also be another word for everything you revel in not knowing. Freedom can be about having everything because you are part of everything, even if you can't see the relation, even if you can't imagine yet how what you want also wants you.

Photo courtesy of HBO.

Kat is making me relive my fat-teen trauma

When people say that HBO's new Zendaya-led teen drama, Euphoria, is triggering, believe them. In the pilot alone we're introduced to Rue (Zendaya) and her drug addiction issues via a graphic depiction of the overdose that sent her to rehab. Then, there's the disturbing rough sex scene featuring Jules (Hunter Schafer), a teenage trans girl who has just moved into town, and a middle-aged man she met on Grindr. Oh, and don't forget the unchecked, toxic masculinity of uber-jock Nate (Jacob Elordi); or the body obsession of his sometimes-girlfriend, Maddy (Alexa Demie). For me though, the ultimate trigger came via Barbie Ferreira's character Kat's experience, as she dealt with and internalized a vicious form of fatphobia.

Kat—almost alone amongst her friends—seems self-assured and dismissive of the idea that any high school drama should be taken too seriously. "You just need to catch a dick and forget about your troubles," Kat tells Maddy, following the latter's recent breakup with Nate. But internally, Kate craves male attention, and resents the fact that she's the only virgin she knows; she hints at this when she tells Maddy that she'd "settle for, like, four Corona Lights and some non-rapey affection," from a guy—any guy.

Kat's bravado leads her into a compromising situation at a high school party; she winds up in a room alone with three boys, where she talks a big game about how she's a "savage" who watches porn and has slept with more people than any of them can count. None of this is true, but Kat is determined to become "a woman of questionable morals."

The scene shows the fine line between being an empowered young woman deciding what to do with her body, on her terms, and being a teenager who thinks she's in control but doesn't fully understand the power dynamics at play. Because, yes, Kat is trying to make an intentional decision about her sexuality and how to use it, but she's doing so with a group of boys who don't value or respect her. This reality is made clear when one of them says to her, "You know what they say, right? Fat girls give the best head."

At those familiar words, I melted into my couch and said a silent prayer of gratitude that I wasn't watching Euphoria in the company of anyone else. Onscreen, Kat, too, shrinks ever so slightly into herself, all while trying to keep a poker face about the whole thing. We don't see exactly what happens in the room, but, later, she seems happy when she shares the news with her friends that she's lost her virginity; even though she then lays down, awake, scrolling through the guy's Instagram, seeming altogether less than happy.

Kat's isn't the most violent or necessarily the saddest story line in the episode. But it showed the ways that issues like consent, toxic masculinity, substance abuse, and body image—all of which are difficult to deal with no matter what your size—are further magnified when experienced through the additional trauma of fatphobia. This is something with which I've personally dealt, and so I felt my past experiences rise up inside me when I watched how Kat couldn't build her own sexual identity without being constantly aware of the ways her body exists outside the parameters of acceptable desirability.

My childhood and adolescence are defined by my experiences as a fat girl; it was a time that often felt like a hazy battlefield, when I could hardly navigate which feelings and thoughts were my own, and which ones were the result of outside forces. My body hardly ever felt like mine, and it took years to develop the autonomy that Kat is grasping at as a teenager. Kat, like so many other fat women, has a total lack of support from her peers when it comes to body image and acceptance, and there's a devastating absence of affirmation about her own worth and the importance of her pleasure. Because of fatphobia, Kat is going to be swimming against a strong, but invisible current as she navigates the already fraught social politics of high school. It's one thing to grasp this truth on an intellectual level, but letting those principles guide your decision-making is truly difficult—even for an adult, let alone for a teenager.

Euphoria airs Sunday nights at 10pm, on HBO.

Courtesy of RLJE Films

White-knuckle your way through wedding season with Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid

Maya Erskine might have first come to our attention in PEN15, the hilarious show she co-created and stars in with Anna Konkle, in which they play 13-year-olds in the year 2000, but in the just-released Plus One, Erskine is all grown up and engaging in a very familiar adult activity: white-knuckling her way through wedding season.

Written and directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer—who just so happen to be Erskine's former NYU classmates—Plus One stars Erskine and Jack Quaid as Alice and Ben, two longtime friends who decide to attend a summer of weddings together, and avoid any of the awkwardness that can come with finding the right plus-one. This is especially important for Alice, who is coming off a bad breakup. Of course, as the laws of rom-coms dictate, nothing stays totally platonic. Beyond that, though, Plus One doesn't fall into predictable rom-com tropes, and instead hilariously explores what it's like to spiral into a quarter-life crisis, all while dressed in optional black-tie. Which, we've all been there, right?

"We kind of use the script as its own therapy," Chan told me recently, when I spoke with him, Rhymer, Erskine, and Quaid, about the film. "We were watching friends who have been broken up for a long time get back together at weddings; we were watching people get really sad and get drunk and start crying... they were breeding grounds for lots of emotions coming to the surface."

Courtesy of RLJE Films

And those emotions have the perfect outlet at weddings in the form of toasts and other assorted speeches. Plus One makes good use of that platform by making the wedding speech the hilarious eye of the storm at each of its weddings. These toasts were delivered in the form of scene-stealing cameos—also friends from NYU, of course.

"Almost all of those speeches are based on a real speech Andrew and I have seen," Chan said. "We'd go to a wedding and [we'd think], Yep, that's going in there."

Rhymer adds that they used these speeches as metonyms for the weddings, which made sense time- and budget-wise: "Being an indie film, we obviously produced 12 weddings, but did so kind of cleverly, showing you the rooms or the side rooms where they're rehearsing. We weren't seeing 12 full-blown receptions in all their glory... that would have been, like, millions of dollars."

But perhaps what's most refreshing about Plus One is that it destroys the image of weddings—and, by extension, relationships, and women, in general—as having to be fantasies, as having to be perfect. Because nothing is perfect, and that's what makes life interesting. Erskine, for one, likes being able to show the weirder sides of life, whether as a 13-year-old girl washing a thong with hand soap or a millennial woman who doesn't know what comes next. "There's something really liberating and freeing to show and bear the ugliest parts of yourself—or what society may deem as the ugliest, weirdest parts of yourself—that no one wants to see," she said. "I'm also an over-sharer. So I am drawn to roles that expose more than is typical, and everyone is weird in one way or another."

"I think," Erskine laughed, "it's because I myself am a wacky trash goblin." As it turns out, that's exactly what rom-coms have been missing, until now.

Plus One is in select theaters and available to stream via Amazon now.

PLUS ONE Official Trailer

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Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

That's one way to solve a wardrobe malfunction

Cardi B twerked so hard during a performance that she ripped her outfit and had to rock a bathrobe for the majority of her set.

At Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennesee, as Cardi got a little too down and into it, a seam split on her bedazzled body-con jumpsuit only moments into her set. Not one to be set back by a wardrobe malfunction, Cardi B rocked a nude strapless bra with a bathrobe on top, making for a Serious Fashion Moment.

"This wasn't just part of the show," Twitter user Lena Blietz pointed out. "No one performs in a nude, strapless bra by choice." I have to agree there. A strapless bra is the bane of my existence on a slow day, I can't imagine what it's like to have to dance in one on stage.

Honestly, watching Cardi perform in this getup made me a stan for life. Despite it not being as flashy as her jumpsuit, Cardi made the bathrobe work, throwing the shoulders down for drama as she paced the stage during each song.

Bonnaroo attendees couldn't help but agree that a bathrobe and nothing else is a mood we all felt in the very, very hot and sweaty crowd. If she had one in my size to share, I would have gladly changed in a heartbeat.

But, despite loving this comfy solution to a big problem, I'd like to take a moment to appreciate the beauty that was the original jumpsuit. RIP.

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

And launched an inclusive summer campaign showcasing 30 different models

Just in time for swim season, sustainable swimwear brand Summersalt launched an inclusive summer campaign, called Every Body is a Beach Body, and significantly expanded its size range.

The brand's sizes now go up to 24 and 2X—quite a jump from its previous availability, which went up to a size 14. Co-founders Reshma Chamberlin and Lori Coulter told NYLON that the size expansion was a must because "we know that there are countless women out there who are missing out on the joy of summer because they don't have the right suit." They noted that they have plans to expand the brand's sizing even more: "We're excited to continue to add more sizes and be even more inclusive."

For the summer campaign, each suit was fitted on 30 professional and non-professional models ranging in body type to ensure it would look great on as many bodies as possible. "We wanted the models for this campaign to be just as diverse and unique as our customers, and we're proud to show models of different sizes, races, gender identities, and physical abilities," said Chamberlin and Coulter. "We want our customers to see themselves in our models, and know that their body is a beach body, exactly as it is right now."

The new collection includes bright new colorways and styles to rock at the beach or the pool. There are bikinis, one-pieces, and even a swim tunic and leggings for modest fashion wearers.

Check out the campaign and some of the new styles, below, and shop the new collection now at Summersalt.

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt

Photo courtesy of Summersalt