FASHION / Brides revisited

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The Independent Culture
THESE are wedding dresses that dreams are made of. Romantic, theatrical and completely at odds with what bridal magazines have been proposing recently. In the world of weddings, restraint has prevailed, partly as a post-Princess Diana backlash. Instead, brides have favoured simple, pared-down dresses; a white Armani trouser suit was perfect if you could afford it. But fashion, always years ahead of bridal fashion, is now seeing satin and crinolines sweeping back.

Inspiration has come in part from films like The Piano, The Age of Innocence, and now, of course, Four Weddings and a Funeral, with their lavish costumes and romantic staginess. John Galliano admits his debt to Jane Campion's film, although he says the huge crinoline skirts of his summer collection were

inspired by the Romanovs. Vivienne Westwood has long been in love with 'entrance dresses' and for this summer created fairy ball-gowns fit for Princess Marie Antoinette. Christian Lacroix, who regularly designs wedding dresses for real Middle Eastern princesses, has always produced gowns of giant proportions.

The actress Kristin Scott-Thomas, who stars opposite Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral got married in real life seven years ago. 'I didn't want a little suit. I wanted something stupendous and dreamy. In the end it was quite 18th-century, with a huge skirt, a fitted peplum jacket and a cartwheel hat.' Here she models clothes for a costume drama, which is, after all, what a big wedding is all about.

Black and silver striped skirt with bustle, to order from Russell Bennett, enquiries, New York, 0101 212 8407277; cream jacket with string ties, pounds 229, by Betty Jackson from Liberty, Regent Street, W1; lace veil from a selection at The Gallery of Antique Costume & Textiles, 2 Church Street, NW8

Opposite: blue and white fine stripe crinoline with trail, and camisole top, both by John Galliano, to order from Browns, 23-27 South Molton Street, W1, enquiries, 071-491 7833

(Photographs omitted)