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Wedding dresses worthy of fairy tales

  • Story Highlights
  • Intricate beadwork, stunning embroidery on Reem Acra's wedding dress designs
  • Designer says she tells a bride when a dress is just not for her
  • Acra says her fashion-forward designs put brides in new dress colors
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By Katrina Szish
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InStyle

(InStyle.com) -- If you weren't (or aren't) the kind of girl who always dreamed of a fairy tale wedding, tricked out in the Cinderella gown with the handsome prince, watch out: Reem Acra will change your mind.

Reem Acra says the next trend will be wedding dresses in new hues.

Dozens of Reem Acra designs, all hand-sewn, await eager brides.

One glance at Acra's decadent satins and tulles, goddess-worthy silhouettes and intricate beading and embroidery is enough to put any woman into a romantic swoon. Even if you're a sworn minimalist.

When I was planning my own wedding five years ago, my mission was clear. No big skirt! No train! No pouf! I was a fashion girl, after all, and I envisioned my walk down the aisle as more of a walk down the runway or the red carpet. The gown should be sleek, sexy, perhaps a touch avant-garde.

But then I walked into Acra's atelier on 60th street in New York, and I never looked back. I was spellbound by the confections that hung before me; even on hangers, these gowns looked regal and ethereal. Never before had I been more impressed by a designer's craft, despite having been to hundreds of fashion shows around the globe.

Celebrated for her intricate beadwork and stunning embroidery, Acra's attention to detail is unparalleled by even the most fastidious couturier.

But don't mistake this Lebanon native for an old world romantic.

"I'm 10 years ahead of the game," Acra said. "Whatever I do today is going to become the trend of tomorrow."

Acra also isn't in the business of pushing a bride to wear a dress that doesn't suit her: "If I find a bride in the wrong dress I always, tell her, 'You're in the wrong dress.' Don't try to be someone else; be yourself."

Acra's design philosophy has just as much to do with personal style as it does fashion. "You should have your hair down if that is the look you've always had. Don't try to wear a big wedding dress when you don't know how to carry it."

But, she added, "try on a few dresses that you might not think would be for you; you never know."

I was one of those "you never know" cases.

Despite my initial closed-minded vision of what my wedding dress "should" be, I chose an ivory, full-skirted gown with metallic hand-embroidery and on the fitted bodice. The neckline was low and square, the embellished sleeves long and sheer. The dress suited my winter wedding theme perfectly, but more important, it also suited me.

But even a bride who doesn't succumb to the siren song of princess-like proportions will find that Acra has just the dress to make her feel, well, like herself. During my recent visit to Reem's boutique, she showed me racks of gowns, all with strikingly different personalities.

There's a strapless, tufted tulle dress that will please both the modern bride and her traditional mother, yet there's another with an empire waist and a gem-encrusted bustline that echoes old Hollywood glamour (and Acra should know; Angelina Jolie, Marcia Cross and Jennifer Lopez are fans). And then there's the blue dress, perfect for the bride who dares to be different.

Using color "is another way of becoming your own stylist, becoming unique," Acra explained. "Why not walk down the aisle in a pale blue dress? This is old Hollywood 1950's with a modern twist. It's the way to go today."

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