This week is typically when Vogue Runway editors attend runway shows and presentations all over the city to cover the new bridal collections. That isn’t the case this season, of course: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bridal Week was canceled, along with the resort 2021 shows in May, the menswear shows in June, and couture week in July. While those ready-to-wear collections will likely be viewed by editors and buyers remotely—perhaps with an assist from livestreams or virtual reality—bridal designers didn’t have as much time to prepare. In mid-March, the Bridal Council announced that the spring 2021 bridal shows were “going digital” with Zoom videos and online galleries, but we’ve learned that many designers haven’t had the time or finances to pull off those virtual experiences. Several of them haven’t even finished making their gowns, since New York factories and studios were closed right in the middle of production.
It’s unclear how dramatically this will impact the spring 2021 collections, which brides would typically shop for and purchase later this year. (Bridal is shown a full year in advance to accommodate the made-to-measure schedule.) If some designers can’t create a full line, they may be forced to skip this season; others are planning to show later this summer, albeit a few months “behind” the calendar. We’ll be reporting on all of that later this week, but in the meantime, brides-to-be shouldn’t be concerned about a lack of options to choose from—especially considering how many gorgeous white gowns we saw on the fall 2020 runways.
Nearly every major show had at least one standout white dress this season, and in some cases, they were actually intended for weddings: At Richard Quinn and Simone Rocha, the models wore dramatic veils with their ivory frocks. Other examples were subtler, like Rodarte’s puffed-sleeve gown with 3D petals. No, it wasn’t technically a “wedding dress,” but Kate and Laura Mulleavy likely wouldn’t be surprised to see a bride wear it down the aisle. In fact, as soon as the model Sasha Knysh glided by in St. Bartholomew’s Church, my colleague Brooke Bobb and I turned to each other and said in unison: “That’s the perfect wedding dress.”
Whether the tag says “bridal” or “ready-to-wear” or “fall” or “spring” isn’t really the point; in 2020, a wedding dress is whatever you want it to be. Perhaps that explains why designers are embracing white dresses in the first place. The bridal industry has been growing exponentially—in 2019, it was estimated to be nearly $300 billion—and there’s a new demand for more modern, fashion-forward wedding options. The 2020 bride is increasingly willing to break with convention, whether it’s by getting married on a farm or by wearing a jumpsuit instead of a ball gown. Perhaps she’s also more interested in shopping with a designer she admires than walking into a typical bridal boutique—hence the significant business opportunity for ready-to-wear designers.
We’ve pulled 22 of the most wedding-worthy white outfits from the fall 2020 runways. For women planning a wedding or getting engaged, they should spark a few new ideas. For the rest of us, they’re a very welcome dreamy distraction.