Bridal Week celebrates… its silver wedding

novia_principal
Barcelona is the home of some of the great names in bridal wear –such as Pronovias or Rosa Clará- and is a strategic centre for the sector. Barcelona Bridal Week (BBW), has been held here for 25 years, and this year returns to the Gran Via site from the 5th to the 10th May.

Organised by Fira de Barcelona, BBW is the leader in Spain and a reference in Europe for bridal wear and accessories, for the groom and the ceremony. It includes the Gaudí Novias show, with 23 firms taking part, and the Salón International Noviaespaña, the trade show of 231 brands, half of which are from other countries.

In its bid for international expansion, BBW is featuring the United States as its special guest, and has appointed Katherine Polk from the firm Houghton Bride as its first ‘special guest designer’.

Exports to the whole world

novia_espanaThe products of the bridal sector and popular all over the world and are undoubtedly good ambassadors of the “Made in Spain” label. According to the data of the Centro de Información Textil y de la Confección, CITYC, Spain exported 16% more wedding dresses in 2014 than the previous year, reaching 507 million euros. The whole sector – taking in party dresses, suits for the groom and accessories – exported 877 million euros, 22% more than in 2013.

The new president of Barcelona Bridal Week, Marta Raich, underlined the importance of international promotion and stated that “it is vital that the world is aware of the defining features of Spanish bridal fashion, which are a blend of creativity and innovation in design, skilled handcrafts in creation and competitiveness in production and sales”. And to judge from the sales figures, these are without doubt unique features and increasingly appreciated.

Happiness down the centuries

bridal_historia Wedding dresses have a long history. A quick look at the past will confirm that wedding dresses in the ancient world symbolized virtues and desires, but also indicated the social and financial status and the prestige of the wife-to-be’s family.

The wedding dresses of ancient Rome consisted of a white tunic, a gift from the wife’s parents, which was tied with a knot, the “nodus Herculeus” or Herculean knot that only the groom could undo. The head of the bride was prepared with six plaits in honour of the six vestal virgins, and adorned with a crown of lilies, wheat, rosemary and myrtle, symbols of purity, fertility, virility and long life, which held in place the saffron-yellow veil (velarium flammeum) that symbolized the fire of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth.

From the 10th and 11th century onwards, the Catholic Church established the consecration of the marriage vows and the religious ceremony. The dress in this period did not have a specific form: the bride wore the most sumptuous and elegant dress the family could afford, and in bright, lively colours.

The earliest bridal gown that we know of was that of Princess Phillipa of England, the last daughter of Henry IV, who wore a tunic and cloak of white silk edged with ermine and with richly embroidered sleeves decorated with precious stones at her wedding to Eric of Pomerania, king of Denmark, Sweden and Norway in 1406. The custom of wearing white did not take root until the wedding of Anne of Brittany to her third husband, the king of France Luis XII in 1491.

The use of the train started in the 16th century and was clearly linked to the social status of the bride: the longer and more ornate it was, the richer and more prestigious were her family.

It seems clear that some habits never go out of fashion: today, in the 21st century, the wedding dress is still the central part of the ceremony, and despite the financial hardships of the crisis, which have affected wedding celebrations, and despite the decline in church weddings, the budget for the wedding dress has remained stable, because neither the brides nor their families are willing to renounce their moment of glamour on the day they say ‘I do’.

GLORIA DILLUVIO