16 Unexpectedly Gorgeous Gowns From Bridal Fashion Week

Photo: Courtesy of Lela Rose.
If you thought all the Fashion Week fun ended in Paris, think again: A month after the fall '16 shows wrapped up across the pond, another round of catwalks kicked off in New York — and these are much more niche, with a very occasion-specific purpose behind the designs. It was Bridal Fashion Week, where established brands and newcomers to the market presented fall '16 and spring '17 wedding collections. Because we're talking about a probably-once-in-a-lifetime garment, the market isn't as subject to trends or seasonality as other runways are. But there's still room for the unexpected.

A few highlights: Carolina Herrera, a major American designer label that's done substantial (always gorgeous) bridal business for decades, took an easy stroll down the aisle in a sleek bridal pantsuit, while Christian Siriano make a splashy debut in the category with pink ombré. There was plenty of cascading tulle, slinky silk, and romantic lace. But there were just as many unexpected takes on textbook bridal silhouettes — inspiration for traditional and contemporary brands alike. These are the gowns that stopped us in our tracks (and might even make you rediscover and/or have a sudden, unexpected urge to create a Pinterest board). Check out the best looks from Bridal Fashion Week, ahead.

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Photo: Courtesy of Lela Rose.
Even if the air-conditioning at the venue might be a little too powerful, you probably don't want to cramp your vow-exchanging style...with a cardigan. Lela Rose has it all figured out, thanks to this built-in cape. Hollywood seems to have already picked up on the cape in a formalwear context. Plus, Rose's take on the style means you don't have to forego a gorgeous neckline: A collared neck opens up into the sheer capelet with an opaque, embellished hem.
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Photo: Courtesy of Vera Wang.
Lacing up gladiator sandals under your wedding gown might not be the most obvious choice of footwear for the big day, but hear us out: You'll be on your feet constantly, so you want to be comfortable — and no one can see under the floor-sweeping hem anyway. Leave it to Vera Wang to think about the practical bride. The dress isn't too shabby either: delicately draped sheer tulle on a high-neck and short-sleeved blouse, tucked into a high-waisted, corset-like waist that opens up into a cascading skirt.
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Photo: Courtesy of Carolina Herrera.
Carolina Herrera may be known for classic elegance, but when the designer goes for a more contemporary interpretation of bridal, it oozes sophistication. Case in point: the wedding pantsuit from spring '17. The tailored ensemble boasts tiny, feminine details (a curved hem on the trouser, delicate embellishment on the collar), plus, it puts the spotlight on the jaw-dropping floral veil.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mira Zwillinger/Anton Oparin.
The ever-intriguing naked dress made its way onto the Mira Zwillinger spring '17 runway — this time as an airy, sheer mini with oversized opaque florals strategically covering up certain parts of one's anatomy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Christian Siriano/Dan Lecca.
Well, this is certainly one way to make quite an entrance — both for the bride on her wedding day and for Christian Siriano's foray into bridal design. He debuted his first full range in the category (in partnership with Kleinfeld Bridal) this season. He closed out the runway with a color-packed confection of a dress that was, unsurprisingly, a favorite on Instagram.
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Photo: JP Yim/Getty Images.
Bridal leggings, could it be? Naeem Khan makes a pretty convincing case for them — sheer and embellished, to match the detailing on a long-sleeved minidress — proving that this controversial item is never going away. (Sorry.)
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Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.
Just because you opt for a wedding jumpsuit doesn't mean you have to forego a dramatic train, as Monique Lhuillier proved at her spring '17 bridal presentation. This number retains a lot of classic bridal details — a sweetheart neckline, jacquard fabric — in a more modern silhouette.
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Photo: Thomas Concordia/Getty Images.
If you're planning to show off your décolletage and shoulders on your wedding day, here's one very chic way to do it. Keeping the rest of the dress clean and streamlined, go for a total-shoulder-baring strapless number with attached sleeves just for your lower arms, like this Sachin & Babi look. Add a sheer veil and a dangling earring, and your glowing collarbones will be the talk of the evening.
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Photo: Thomas Concordia/Getty Images.
The off-the-shoulder trend has already infiltrated seemingly every runway show and fast-fashion retailer — the bridal market has plenty of clavicle-baring options too. This Marchesa number proves that lace doesn't always have to look so precious. Yes, you can definitely wear the classic fabric and still look fashion-forward.
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Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.
Oscar de la Renta makes a case for amping up a simple column dress with an embellished shrug tossed on top — you can keep things more conservative for the ceremony, and take it off for an entirely different look at the reception.
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Photo: Randy Brooke/Getty Images.
We're all for wearing a non-white gown to wed, but pastel green isn't a hue we'd seen before this Jenny Packham gown. Complete with some 3-D embellishments, it's like a chic, grown-up, formal version of your favorite Easter outfit growing up.
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Photo: Randy Brooke/Getty Images.
Too many ruffles? No such thing. Sure, you're like the closest thing to a human loofah in this Ines di Santo floor-grazer, but it's a whimsical way to make a major statement without going for beading or a nontraditional hue.
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Photo: Albert Urso/Getty Images.
Theia sent a timely, David Bowie-inspired collection down the runway this season, so if you're looking for a way to pay homage to Ziggy Stardust on your big day, go bold with a metallic bodice and contrasting minimalist white skirt. Theatrical makeup optional.
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Photo: Randy Brooke/Getty Images.
For a sweet gown with a touch of sexy, tackle multiple trends at once with this sheer, dotted Delphine Manivet dress. You've got the on-trend lace-up front to toughen it up a bit, a fashion-forward balloon sleeve, and a thigh-high slit for a healthy dose of Angelina Jolie-status sex appeal. Complete the look with a ballerina slipper that will spare you the blisters of a five-inch Manolo.
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Photo: Thomas Concordia/Getty Images.
Fashion typically has you programmed into thinking you have to minimize your curves, but the dramatic hip-accenting trend is another one we've seen recently on tons of runways that's making its way into bridal. Reem Acra gives it a whirl with a lingerie-inspired bodice and oversized, cascading ruffles that start at the waist and flow down into the train.
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Photo: Courtesy of Houghton.
Ever considered splitting your wedding gown in two? Houghton shows how the wedding-apropos matching set is done with (yet another) its off-the-shoulder ensemble, featuring an A-line top over an ankle-length loose pencil skirt. You get a peek of crop top-esque sheerness at the torso and an overall look that calls for badass braids and a choker to top things off.