Pretty gowns in bloom, pt. 2

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Devina and Matthew, wed in Milwalkee, Sept. 2013:


Several weeks ago I wrote about wedding magazines up in the Periodicals and Electronic Resource Services on the 6th floor.   Those magazines were so blond and white, I am embarrassed for them.  They don’t look anything like the FIT students and industry professionals working in our reading room!  So I set myself the question of “Where are non-Anglo Americans getting their wedding inspiration?”

We get several magazines aimed at specific ethnic/sociographic communitites.  Several others we have tried to get, like Azizah, have failed, and some we just can’t find a distributor for here in New York.

But I looked in Ebony, Essence, and Vanidades for bridal tips, and found very little.



Flipping through the spring issues, when most bridal editorial is produced, I found very little.  In the June 2014 issue, there’s an article on the “Secrets of Happy Marriages”.  The Ebony website tells me that there was an article in February of this year reporting on the “Say Yes to the Dress” episode where WNBA stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson choose wedding gowns, but most of the talk about marriage in this magazine is about how to have a good one.  Frankly, this is much more important stuff than the wedding itself, but we still want to look at pretty dresses.





This title offers slightly more of the “Oooh Aaah” effect by providing an article on an actual bride, radio host Shirley Strawberry, complete with details of her gown, headpiece and accessories.  (April 2015 issue) But again, this isn’t coverage of either bridal fashions or less-famous real brides.

So where are African-American women of style going for information on bridal products?  We know the bridal industry is huge in this country, so they have to be consuming in this market, don’t they?



Here’s where the internet is my friend.  When I began to look online, I found tons of Wedding Industrial Complex aimed specifically at the African-American market.  Here are a few of the more comprehensive sites I found:

Munaluchi layout inspired by Gustav Klimt, spring 2015: art-inspired-shoot-mint-wedding-ideas-munaluchi-026










But what about Hispanic brides? We subscribe to Vanidades, a title aimed at Hispanic women in America.  But it doesn’t have much coverage of the wedding industry, either.







I found one mention of a fairy-tale wedding in the April 2014 issue.  But even this article reads more like a paparazzi-fed celebrity report than wedding-industry romance about the dress, the shoes, and the tiara.


So where are Hispanic brides getting their wedding inspiration from?  This question is complicated by the number of different countries of origin among Hispanics in America.  But here in the library, we have all kinds of demographic records!  A quick search through Statista ( produced the breakdown, by percentage, of country of origin among all Americans identifying as “Hispanic”.  Once in Statista, I searched for “Hispanic population in the U.S., by origin 2010” (census date).


Regina and Zaheen serenaded by mariachi band in 2011. Photo by Aaron Delesie. Zacatecas, Mexico.


I discovered that people of Mexican descent make up the vast majority of the Hispanics in this country.  Puerto Rican descent is the next largest, then Cuban, then Salvadoran, then Dominican.  Since I know that a large percentage of those here in New York are of Puerto Rican or Dominican heritage, I focused on trying to find any websites devoted to weddings in these traditions.

And couldn’t find much.  Lots of questions on larger wedding-planning sites from Puerto Rican and Dominican women, but nothing that was marketed directly to them.  Here are some of the sites I found:

(shout out to for embracing so many cultures!)

Ironically, both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are popular places for American couples planning destination weddings.

Chinese wedding banner
Chinese-American wedding in Manhattan, from Atlantic Monthly article, March 8, 2011


Another culture found in the New York area is American-born Chinese.  While we  subscribe to several major Chinese fashion magazines, the language barrier makes it difficult to get information on the variations of Chinese wedding customs celebrated in the U.S.  Fortunately, there are helpful sites with detailed instructions:


Photo by Krista Lee Newbill, event by
Photo by Krista Lee Newbill, event by More about this wedding:

According to this article in Fortune magazine, August 8, 2014, “The average American wedding costs $29,000 and has 140 guests…  The average cost of an Indian wedding in the U.S. is $65,000 with 500 guests,” says an planner who specializes in Indian-style weddings.  This kind of ceremony has generated it’s own multimillion dollar wedding industry.  Despite this, American bridal magazines don’t address this sort of ceremony at all.

Indian-American culture clearly embraces the  colorful wedding ritual.  Unfortunately, other than the recently-created Vogue India, we have been unable to find any American vendors who carry Indian-fashion magazines.

Yet again, the internet helps solve this problem.  The growing network of wedding planners, venues, and suppliers who specialize in Indian customs can easily be found by the click of a mouse.  I found many sites, all of which have lavish images of red and gold bejeweled brides and grooms wearing turbans or riding horses.  Here are just a few, to inspire you.

We’ve only written about several ethnic-American cultures here, due to space concerns.    Clearly non-Anglo Americans are finding the information and resources to plan the weddings they desire outside of traditional print sources.  Thank you, internet!  The bigger question remains, however: “does it matter to non-Anglo Americans that mainstream bridal magazines don’t reflect their presence in this market?”  Unfortunately, it would take more resources than I have available to resolve it.  In the meantime, enjoy all the pics of gorgeous gowns and decorated venues.  And happy wedding season!

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L’Officiel, June 1988, p. 51

You made it through another school year!

Now you can relax for the summer.  Ok, so maybe you have to work, but you still won’t have projects due after your workday, right?

New York City is a great place to be in the summer.  The city is less crowded because a lot of people relocate for a few months.  Yes, there are tourists here from all over the world, but the trains aren’t as full, and it’s warm out, so you can walk everywhere.  Plus there are tons of free cool things to do here all summer long.

Just to give you some ideas, I’ve compiled a little list of links.

I’m putting Time Out New York in here first, because we just happen to have it up on the 6th floor of the library.

TONY cvr310
Cover, April 22-28 issue, up in PERS on 6th floor

And here are a bunch of other cool listings:

 Have a great summer, everyone!

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Spring, and pretty gowns in bloom, pt. 1

The library’s Periodicals and Electronic Resources department subscribes to a several bridal magazines.  We subscribe to these for their presentation of many items, not just pretty gowns, so we thought we should point them out to you.

If you’re curious to see the whole list, you can find it here:

brides cover

Brides (American edition):

This is the oldest of our current bridal titles.  It is America’s big, mass-market bridal glossy.  Like most bridal mags, it’s chief purpose is to provide some text between the vast amount of advertising pages devoted to gown sales.  And bridesmaid dress sales.   The graphic design of this title hasn’t been updated much in 30 years, though, and the layout looks just like every other middle-market glossy (probably because they are mostly published by Conde Nast).

Brides Vera Wang Mens 2015




It is a well-rounded title, including articles on honeymoons and travel, some bridal-show runway coverage, trends in bridesmaid’s gowns, some coverage of beauty trends (with a column by Drew Barrymore, no less), a basic calendar for wedding planning, even some discussion of the couple’s future relationship.  We often recommend this title for the men’s formal-wear and tableware, as well.


Brides Plates 2015

Formal-wear styled for a younger menswear market, ad by Vera Wang.  This ad campaign also shows up in Martha Stewart Weddings.

Christian Lacroix plates headline an editorial feature on tableware in the April/May 2015 issue.

And some bridesmaid’s dresses from the editorial:  Brides Floral Dresses 2015




Very Conde Nast feeling to that page, and not in the best sense.  All images shown here are from the April/May 2015 issue.

Their web site is more detailed and looks a bit fresher:


MSW coverMartha Stewart Weddings:

Even though this magazine shares a lot of mid-market advertisers with Brides (American), it stays true to Ms. Stewart’s goals.  This title attempts to bring a “beautiful” DIY lifestyle to anyone who can cut a piece of paper.

MSW DIY 2015





Among the standard gown and ring advertisements, the magazine includes plenty of hands-on tips to make keepsakes, invitations, and favors.  The editorial focuses more on the domestic details of both wedding and married life, with suggestions for table decorations, household appliances, and flower arrangements along with the usual makeup and jewelry tips.  Likewise, the design of the magazine and the tone of the editorial is younger than Brides (American).

MSW Mira Zwillinger Spring 2015 2 The gowns in the editorials are fashion-forward but affordable, more ‘Vera Wang for David’s Bridal’ than Vera Wang.  While serving its middle-class audience, Martha Stewart Living holds on to its aspirational, trend chasing, and lifestyle roots.  All images shown here are from the Spring 2015 issue.

One more note: the layout pictured here on the left includes the only model who wasn’t pale-skinned and Anglo-featured in any of the bridal magazines discussed here.  (“Scanning the Spectrum”, featuring Madisin Bradley, Spring 2015 issue, pp. 292-305)  Surely you can do better, publishers?


brideuk cvr

Brides UK:

This is also a Conde Nast product, and includes similar features to its American counterpart: hundreds of gown ads, month by month to do lists, bridesmaid’s dress ads, housewares, mother-of-the bride tips. Despite these similarities this title has a lighter tone than Brides (American).

Brides UK Mom of Bride 2007





The difference springs from several sources.  The clothing sales pitches are not aimed just at the bride.  The editorial and ads include a lot of items for children, grooms (lots of menswear!), and bridesmaids; and it includes regular articles and advertising aimed at chic mothers of brides.


stripe dressBeing a British publication, there are also great hats, of course, as the layout above shows.

bridesmaids cheeky


Maybe it’s that more actual weddings are depicted in this title, or maybe it’s the cheekiness of the English ads, but in this mag, weddings seem to be less serious business and more fun for the whole family.


This saucy dress is a great inspiration for the FD Draping 2 Stripe Project!


We recommend this title if you need references for men’s formal-wear or current hat fashions.  Also, English designers are featured prominently throughout.


TnC coverTown and Country Weddings:

Town and Country  has always targeted the American country-club set, an audience known for their traditional tastes.  Yet this magazine is more forward-looking in graphic design, layout, and in gowns shown than others reviewed here.   The photography layouts are so minimalist they are suitable for mobile consumption.

This title depicts some fabulous weddings of “real” people in it.  Well, ok, so the super wealthy/famous, but still.   The style spots use the snappy “Style Spy” tag to highlight wedding pics full of pretty, tasteful ideas.  The (larger) amount of space devoted to men’s clothing and grooming is a nod to old-school style not seen in Brides (American) or Martha Stewart Weddings.

The editorials are pared down and elegant.  While many of the styles are very simple, they aren’t necessarily traditional, as this cropped-top bride (Spring 2015 issue) shows.

TnC crop top

Its focus on old money brings Town and Country Weddings some very upscale advertisers, so it surprised me how much more funky their products were, more so than even Martha Stewart Weddings‘.

T&C Wedding Invites 2014


Some of the ads and some of the layouts showcase these very hip products, like this invitation.



Plenty others contain more traditional goods, elegantly styled, like this grouping of rings or this lace gown.

T&C Wedding Rings 2014


TnC lace




The invitation and rings pictured above are from ads, and the lace dress from editorial.  All these images are from the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of Town and Country Weddings.




The internet has given people many more and more-diverse options for researching and designing their weddings.  One of the biggest competitors to Brides has been The Knot.  While this began as a website, it has also become a successful magazine (which we do not carry, sorry.)  Here are some other websites I’ve found for interesting takes on the wedding industry:

The library also has tons of books with historic looks at wedding fashions.  If you search StyleCat using the word “bridal”, you will get pointers to 95 other sources for images and research on the bridal market.  Watch this space for Pt. 2 of this article, where I’ll show you some of the market resources for researching this classification.

Happy spring, and may all your romantic dreams come true!

The talented Shannen Lindsey (FMM) helped with the ideas and images for this article.

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Tailoring, old school

menofclothSqueee!  Can hardly wait to see this…

May this art never be lost!

By the way, this film has a Facebook page you can like here:

And in case you were wondering about the terminology used:


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Cinderella, the Sasenach, and other fantasies

Cinderella 2015

Who doesn’t love a ball and a wedding?  Especially fantasy ones…

Cinderella’s ball gown caught my eye on the billboards, and I’m dying to see the movie.  I was also dying to see the gown’s construction.  It’s interesting that so many of the techniques used to make this very grand gown were pulled from nineteenth-century understructures and couture techniques.  The crinoline, in particular, is almost a direct copy of some of the ones in museum collections.  Likewise, the corset is based on corsets similar to those in the Museum at FIT’s collection, like the one here:

There just happens to be an exhibition up at the Bard Graduate Center, at 18 West 86th street, all about these under-structures, if you want to go see some for inspiration.

The Eveningwear specialization in the Fashion Design Department offers a number of classes where students learn how to create boned bodices, types of skirt supports, and elaborate embellishments, such as silk flowers and the delicate butterflies that float in the tulle at Lily James’ shoulders in this ballgown.  There is also a class on corset making in the Fashion Design department.

The library at FIT is a place full of ideas for fantasy costumiers, like the team designing for “Outlander”.

outlanderSome of the fancier costumes have gone on display recently, at the show’s season opening:

The library at FIT offers many resources to do the sort of historical-clothing research the costumers for “Outlander” have used.  Besides using corseting and understructure techniques, the costume team for this show have also clearly spent a lot of time researching mid-eighteenth century (the show takes place in 1743-46) clothes in England and Scotland.  There is a lot of information to tell a researcher exactly what British soldiers would have worn, but dress in the Scottish highlands wasn’t so well documented (until Queen Victoria became besotted with the highlands in the 1850s).

Outlander green silver


This allows the designers more rein to imagine the costumes any way they like.  In this article, I love the designers’ talk about the silvery grays and greens of the landscape.  That those colors inspired their design palette.

The other inspiring thing the designers talk about in the above article are the ways they manipulated fabrics and furs to give different surface effects. (Go Textile and Surface-Design people!)



I’ve posted images of the costumes from “Game of Thrones” before, but the costumes are so intricate they deserve a lot of looking.

Game_of_Thrones_Oslo_exhibition_2014_-_Royal_court_costumesMichele Carragher, the designer, has used the embellishments (embroidery, creative appliques, jewel-like attachments) to convey the characters of the story so individually.  And because the show unfolds over time, she can manipulate these images over time to show the way each character grows and changes.

While “Cinderella” is embedded in our social consciousness as a common fairytale theme, the stories in “Outlander” and “Game of Thrones” bring newer characters into our imagination, partially depending upon their costumes to tell their stories.

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