Erin Fetherston On The Power Of Storytelling In A Bridal Collection

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As an internationally-renowned fashion designer and recent bride, Erin Fetherston knows how to dress for a wedding. In addition to her seasonal ready-to-wear collections, Erin also designs exclusive lines for brides and bridesmaids. From varying wedding themes and colors, to differing body types and personal styles, Erin has experience with the many trials of finding the perfect bridesmaids dresses. Read on to see how she helps bridesmaids feel comfortable and confident on the big day. We're so in love with your bridesmaids dresses! How do you help brides find the right dresses for their bridesmaids?
Erin Fetherston: "Thankfully, the concept of bridesmaids dresses has seen an evolution in the past couple of years, moving away from the uniform approach and toward styles bridesmaids would actually wear outside of a wedding. Dresses now are truly designed for the individual. When I sit down with a bride and her bridesmaids, I usually ask if they're looking for dresses that are twins, sisters, or cousins. If it's twins, everyone is wearing an identical dress. For sisters, the dresses are in the same fabrics or colors, but in varying styles. If cousins, then the dresses are part of the same family, but each is unique. I like to use this information to create a story that leaves room for each bridesmaid to have her own unique personality and a dress that matches her style."
Your dresses are so stylish. Any tips on how a bridesmaid can make her dress fit her own personal style?
"First and foremost, it's important for a bridesmaid to understand what the bride is looking for. You're coloring within the lines — you want to choose something you feel good in, but it's important to realize that you're a piece of the bigger picture. Keep the bride's vision in mind. If everyone is doing a muted neutral look, someone with a bold lip will stick out. Everyone can find a way to inject elements that make a look unique to themselves, but it's all about keeping the collective visual unity of the group."
Bridesmaids dresses sometimes get a bad rap for not being re-wearable. What's your take?
"This can be true, but it doesn't have to be! It all comes down to the dress. Designers like myself, who are experienced in ready-to-wear, create with this in mind. Traditional bridesmaid dresses that are created with the sole purpose of being bridesmaid dresses take a little more creativity to find ways to re-wear. But the dresses that are created with the fashion perspective in mind can be worn to a cocktail party, another wedding event, or any semi-formal occasion."
Brides have so many events to go to before the big day. Any outfit suggestions?
"When I went through this process last year, I decided I would wear white for every single occasion from the bridal shower to the brunch. There are so many cute white dresses out there, from casual sundresses to fancier lace dresses. If you can somehow hook in a theme for your pre-wedding events — even if it's just that you're the bride and you'll wear white — it can be really fun. I remember unpacking my suitcase when I arrived at my destination wedding and having a whole closet full of white — I loved it!"
We've seen photos of the dress you designed for your own big day! Where did you find inspiration?
"There are so many things to consider before you get your dress. The biggest challenge is finding the venue and the setting, which should inform the dress. I got married on a plantation in Barbados with sprawling hilly lawns, so I used that environment to decide what I should wear. At first, I didn't want to wear a dress with a full skirt, but after looking at the venue, I knew that the dress needed to have a certain amount of volume to stand up against the location. It's also important to think about how formal or casual the wedding will be. For me, my wedding had a fairy tale, garden feel, so I needed my gown to feel ethereal and romantic. I went with an organza gown covered in floral embroidery."
Are there any ready-to-wear trends that are spilling into bridal right now?
"An exciting trend that's happening right now in evening and cocktail is the idea of separates. We've been fixated on the dress for a long time now, but new collections involving separates are translating to the bride and bridesmaid. This trend is great because it lends itself to wear-ablity. You can re-wear the top and skirt together, or pair with other pieces for different occasions."
On the design side, what's different about putting together a ready-to-wear collection versus a bridal collection?
"Personally, I try not to approach it any differently, which is why my bridesmaid dresses have a more fashion-minded feel. When creating a bridal collection, the colors definitely come into play more. In the bridal world, people are more drawn to whites, creams, and pastels where they wouldn't be on a day-to-day basis."
Now that you've gone through the wedding planning process yourself, has your design process changed when approaching bridesmaids and bridal looks?
"When I design for a ready-to-wear collection, I have a specific story in mind to tell through the collection. When you're designing for a wedding, it's different. I've researched so many different ways for someone to get married, and I want to ensure I have dresses that fit for every style and occasion. I ask myself, do I have a dress for the boho bride? For the Park Ave bride? All those dresses need to take on a different look and feel. The wedding process is truly amazing, and it's something that you don't necessarily look at before you need to. I have had the opportunity to see what's out there and what's been missing in the industry. From lingerie to the bride's gown and bridesmaids dresses, there's a lot out there, and there is a lot that still isn't. My goal in designing bridal collections is to offer something different and to give brides more choices."
Tulle or lace: "Tulle."
Macarons or cupcakes: "Macarons."
Flower crowns or bouquets: "Flower crowns."
Stripes or polka dots: "It's a tie!"
Coffee or tea: "Tea."

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