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What's new in bridal gowns 

Once a bridal trend comes into vogue, it tends to stick around awhile. Couple that with the fact that New Orleanians are notoriously resistant to change, and you have a recipe for very slowly evolving bridal styles. However, even though Amy Casbarian, owner of Wedding Belles, describes New Orleans customers as "super traditional," that doesn't mean we're impervious to national trends. Here, she and Alfred Angelo designer Michael Shettel outline the prevailing trends in wedding gowns.

LACE

"Lace has been around forever in bridal," Casbarian says. "It's a way to provide elegant coverage, and we're seeing a lot of that. Whether it's a lace gown with a bateau neckline or a little fitted lace jacket that goes over a strapless gown, covering up is just super chic." Shettel adds that nothing is steeped in tradition like lace — which may make it appealing to more conservative brides. "(Lace) captures the essence of youth and modernity, with a touch of nostalgia," he says. Both traditional, heavier weight laces and lightweight Chantilly laces adorned with appliques are ways to update a traditional silhouette, Casbarian says.

BEADING

"We're seeing more beaded bodices," Casbarian says. "Beaded belts and sashes are huge still. They've been around for four or five years and are only multiplying." The beauty of a beaded sash is its versatility: It can be worn again with Mardi Gras gowns or even over a cocktail dress as an accent piece.

RETRO-INSPIRED GOWNS

In contrast to the voluminous ball gown trend, slinky, shapely, vintage-inspired silhouettes are making a comeback. "Modern, sleek, form-fitting gowns put a grown-up spin (on bridal wear)," Shettel says. Casbarian has noticed a prevalence of gowns with slits, which are both sultry and practical, allowing greater ease of movement while casting a retro spell. "It's a ... 1950s-type look with a slit up the center," Casbarian says.

BALL GOWNS

Once maligned as the sartorial equivalent of meringue, ball gowns are gaining popularity. "For a while, (ball gowns were seen as) too princess-y — girls were saying they didn't want to look like a cupcake," Casbarian says. "Now you see these chic ball gowns, and the drape of the fabric is what gives them elaborate drama." Shettel agrees that for the sheer head-turning factor, ball gowns are hard to beat. "Show-stopping ball gowns are exciting and bold," says Shettel, whose designs feature tulle, beaded laces and ruffles.

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