Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week closes 2022 edition amid optimism and recovery
If there was one fashion sector in which a significant upturn was expected after the impact of the pandemic, it was bridalwear. Faced with the restrictions of the last two years which limited or postponed weddings, 2022 will be a record year for the bridal industry, according to the Wedding Report’s forecasts.
Reaching the highest figures since 1984, 2.47 million weddings are expected to be held this year (compared to 1.93 and 1.27 million ceremonies recorded in 2021 and 2020, respectively), with their average spending rising to $24,300 (about 22,700 euros). The string of ceremonies will remain above $2 million per year, at least until 2025, and come as a treat for companies and brands in the sector, forced by the Covid-19 pandemic to spend two financial years practically in the black. The trade fair and fashion shows of Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week took over from New York Bridal Fashion Week, held in the Big Apple earlier this month, and returned to a physical format, between April 20 and 24, aiming to reaffirm its role as Europe’s bridal fashion capital.
"We are very pleased with this return after two years of pandemic life. The balance is very positive for the 34 shows. The 320 brands present at the fair have been selling and the atmosphere is very positive", said the event's director, Estermaria Laurucia, to FashionNetwork.com, underlining "the optimism that is felt, the desire to meet again and the gratitude of the participants to be able to count on a leading event in Europe to revive the industry.”
According to data collected by the event organized by Feria de Barcelona with the support of the Departament d'Empresa i Treball de la Generalitat de Catalunya, it had already registered a total of 18,600 participants, 65% from abroad, as well as 1,170 Spanish and international buyers invited by the organization just hours before it closed. The organizer highlighted the European, Latin American, Chinese and American markets among the most important for the sector. "Barcelona is the 'place to be' in this industry. We stand by the fact that bridal fashion is fashion for all intents and purposes," she added.
Faced with the need to reinvigorate the bridal industry after several postponements and hybrid presentations during the pandemic, the event organized a special gala with its loyal brands last October, but its return to the traditional catwalk and trade show format was postponed until its usual date in April. "We haven’t completely forgotten the pandemic, but no one is willing to stop again," she said of the "coexistence with Covid-19." Moreover, the start of the event coincided with the first day exempt from mandatory masks indoors, acting as a further boost of optimism among attendees.
"The line between online and offline is becoming increasingly blurred and bridal fashion is forced to move towards digital and connected initiatives. But this part does not have to replicate the physical experience, just as each proposal has to have its own space," Laruccia explained about the new hybrid event format, with which the BBFW Digital Experience platform, which already has over 40,000 views, will continue to run until June 20.
A new concept tailored for brides
"The physical fair cannot be replaced, especially from a professional standpoint, but the online allows the connection time to be extended. It's very useful in the bridal industry, where all companies are now more cautious and have extended their buying times," she explained, adding that "rethinking the concept" also makes it possible to reach the end consumer directly, something that wasn’t possible up until now.
"We are transitioning from a BtoB industry to a BtoBtoC industry. Ultimately, it is the brides who are reviving this industry and we have to target them. For a while, marriage was seen as old-fashioned. This perception has shifted, ceremonies have opened up to young people again and new phenomena are being experienced," she said, mentioning trends such as double dresses or second weddings.
For several editions now, a key driver in broadening horizons and gaining media traction has been inviting internationally renowned companies to showcase. In this edition, two highlights paraded during the week's opening day, presenting the collaboration between American firm Marchesa and the Dutch brand Viktor&Rolf, who paraded their bridal line for the first time, accompanied by an anthology of wedding dresses from their haute couture collections.
International recognition was also guaranteed by the long-awaited Atelier Pronovias fashion show, held in the festive Pabellón de Italia, a few meters away from the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. The collection inspired by Versailles and designed by Alessandra Rinaudo featured 44 dresses handmade in Spain with French and Italian fabrics and designed for women of different ages and body types, which were characterized by their detachable sleeves, ruffled capes, lace bodices, long trains, and deep necklines. The most photographed look was the one entrusted to add the final touch to the show, worn by the iconic Spanish model of the 90s Esther Cañadas, who returned to the catwalk at the age of 45. The design was also part of the three limited edition NFTs accompanying the collection.
Internationalization as an objective
This was not the only collection presented by the Pronovias Group, owned by BC Partners since 2017, which also organized the Nicole Milano fashion show. The brand, which joined Pronovias in the group's brand portfolio five years ago, opted for a romantic collection inspired by art created by its artistic director Nicole Cavallo.
Another leading Spanish company, Rosa Clará, presented its couture 2023 collection that featured refined lines and elegant finishes, where there was no shortage of midi dresses and minimalist looks in stretch crepe or with adjustable sleeves. With 27 years of experience and an international presence of 4,000 points of sale in 80 countries, the brand was delighted to return to the catwalk claiming to have already exceeded its pre-pandemic turnover figures.
The lineup included other Spanish players: Isabel Sanchís’ voluminous silhouettes; Yolancris’ rock-inspired bohemian style; Marco & María de Tenerife’s colors and transparencies; Sophie et Voilà’s architectural lines; and Nicolas Montenegro’s traditional Andalusian embroidery. The renowned Italian tailoring company Carlo Pignatelli and the Spanish Ramon Sanjurjo distinguished themselves with their menswear offering.
When asked about the event's plans for the future, upcoming guest-stars, and finding a new official sponsor after Swiss Valmont’s departure, Laruccia is not ruling out any possibilities. "We have our doors open and are evaluating all options. We don't want to limit ourselves to a single concept," she concluded. The dates for the next event have already been decided: April 19-23, 2023.
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