MILAN – Elie Saab’s first bridal collection to walk the runway headlined a strong five-day edition of Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week, which concluded on April 23 in the Spanish city.
Bustling activity in the bridal market and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions globally helped the fair return to pre-pandemic attendance, which totaled 21,500 visitors, up 15% from 2022, when the fair organized its first physical fair in two years.
Organizer Fira de Barcelona said Asian buyers, notably absent last year as reported, were back in force, with key retailers coming from China, Japan, South Korea and other countries in the Southeast Asia region among the 1,500 buyers who visited the pavilions of the fair and took part in the fashion shows.
“This edition confirms the take-off of the global bridal fashion market after the pandemic and its good growth prospects, as well as the positioning of Barcelona as an undisputed appointment to see trends and close deals thanks to the quality and internationality of the companies it brings together ”, said show director Albasarí Caro.
According to Market Research, the global wedding dress market is poised to reach $83.5 billion in 2030, posting a compound annual growth rate of 4% over the next seven years.
Speaking to WWD on the occasion of his appointment last October, Caro made it clear that he intends to move forward with continuity, further fueling the international appeal of the show and as a point of reference for the sector.
The Elie Saab show held as part of the Bridal Night gala event at the city’s Maritime Museum was inspired by the work of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, a ukiyo-e painter and printmaker whose close-ups of blooming flowers and landscapes serenity were echoed in the evanescent and richly embroidered dresses that the Lebanese maison sent down the catwalk.
“It is an extraordinary opportunity for us to show on the catwalk in Barcelona for the first time, as well as it is a real pleasure to present our collection ‘A sense of wonder’ during Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week in an exclusive show,” said Elie Saab Jr., the company’s chief executive officer. Saab followed in the footsteps of guest designers Viktor & Rolf last year.
The Elie Saab collection is all about light, extravagant dresses that highlight the cleavage and waist, a trend seen elsewhere throughout the five-day event. Floral embellishments made with sequins and pearls with an iridescent finish, as well as feathered details, added to the contemporary romantic vibe that ran through the collection.
Jesús Peiró, Sophie et Voilà, Isabel Sanchís, Yolancris and Rosa Clará were among 34 bridal specialists who joined Saab to showcase their spring 2024 collections on the catwalk over the five days.
Also on display is a list of international brands, such as the Vietnamese label Joli Poli, the Ukrainian brands Wona Concept and Eva Lendel, the Canadian Ines Di Santo, who made her debut in Barcelona this year, and the Polish Agnieszka Swiatly.
The Italian brand owned by Pronovias, Nicole Milano, has embraced the trend of flattering the neck and waist with a younger edge, sporting dresses with high slits or deep V-necks, often with voluminous ruffled skirts, as in a minidress without shoulder pads with a rebel touch.
Overall, the fair saw the participation of 350 exhibitors, two thirds of which were international including Tony Ward, Zuhair Murad, Jenny Packham and Stéphane Rolland, who shared the exhibition area of the fairgrounds with Ines Di Santo and Saab. Around 30% of the brands made their first appearance at the show this year.
The fair also introduced the landmark edition of the Barcelona Bridal & Fashion Awards, which awards prizes to the best bridal and formal wear creations recognizing their design, quality and sustainability credentials.
The nine winners included Vivienne Westwood for Best Wedding Dress; Viktor & Rolf Mariage for the best women’s bridal collection and Carlo Pignatelli for the best groom’s fashion. Professor Jimmy Choo OBE, who has been the creative director of The Atelier Couture brand since 2015, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The next edition of Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week will be held from 17 to 21 April 2024.