At this time of year, chances are you'll recently have attended at least one set of nuptials. What is significantly less likely is that you will have witnessed the bride make her way down the aisle in a taffeta micro-bustier with a detachable train that can be reconfigured into a cloak. Or, less probable still, swathed in gently ruffled silk designed to envelope the torso like a cloud (a micro-mini cumulus to be precise).
Few real-life weddings incorporate the spectacle and drama that Parisian fashion designer Olivier Bobin brings to his bridalwear. Yet, with his cult label Fade, the 30-year-old has steadily built a buzz among style insiders around the world for his ability to pull off the seemingly impossible trick of making wedding dresses that actually look quite cool and, as Bobin likes to see it, "fun".
Looking at Bobin's fantastical designs, extreme as they may be, it seems a shame that so few brides choose to express themselves with something a little more esoteric on an occasion when there should be more licence to indulge one's whims than any other.
It was that potential for experimentation and excess that initially drew Bobin (a graduate of Paris' Studio Berçot who cut his fashion teeth at Thierry Mugler and Jean Paul Gautier) to the wedding dress: "As a garment, I find them particularly interesting," he muses. "They are a form of costume, of ceremonial clothing, and because of that, they have a value in the imagination beyond their material value. They are bound up with the emotions of the occasion itself."
In contrast to most ready-to-wear pieces that need to entertain a reasonable degree of wearability, the predominantly symbolic nature of a wedding gown permits Bobin to give free rein to his artistic impulses in a way normally reserved for couture clothing.
While the wild extravagance and defiant impracticality of couture may be seen as either its greatest strengths or its fatal flaws, for a wedding dress to be all of those things is forgivable – desirable, even. "In this instance, it is considered normal to use the most noble fabrics – silks, tulle, satin," explains Bobin. "And you can go further with the silhouette with exaggerated volume, everything."
Bobin's only concession to tradition is his commitment to white as the ultimate bridal hue. "I think, in its purity, white is actually a rebellious colour in fashion," he says.
The prices of Bobin's dresses – each of which take several weeks of intense work to create – vary from just under £2,000 to £8,000. But given the four-figure price tag of even the most uninspired off-the-peg meringues, it doesn't seem such an astronomical investment for a custom-made piece.
Bobin readily admits, however, that while his creations have appeared on the pages of Italian Vogue, W and Another, only a handful of women have dared to wear them for their real-life nuptials – members of what he has dubbed his "société secrète". Most of his commissions are in fact for artistic collaborations, such as the confection he produced for Els Pynoo, lead singer of hip French electro band Vive La Fête (Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel is a big fan), to wear in a music video and on tour.
Although the wedding dresses form the core of the Fade line, the notion of ceremony and ritual has spawned a range of casual T-shirts and sweatshirts, so boys – and eternal bridesmaids – needn't feel left out. Embellished with the dreamlike drawings of illustrator François Sagat, the incongruous mixture of arcane symbols and mythological references with the most everyday of apparel is deliberately humorous and offbeat.
Fans of that section of the range include Jamie Hince, lead singer of the Kills and the current Mr Kate Moss. If he ever gets round to making an honest woman of her, perhaps we'll all see a bride in a micro-bustier yet.Reuse content