Visions in white

Something old, something new, something borrowed bring oomph into Chris Nick’s first bridal collection

TUX LUXE Cashmere wool double breasted tuxedo dress with an oversized glossy duchess satin peak lapel

Young Filipino designer Chris Nick has launched his first bridal collection, giving the white wedding a thoroughly modern touch yet also refreshing our memory of its exquisite heritage.

The typical wedding gown wasn’t always white, although it was first worn as far back as 1406 when Philippa of England married Eric of Pomerania. It was Queen Victoria who launched white as the customary, fashionable color of the bride when she wed her first cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, at the Chapel Royal at St. James Palace in London on Feb. 10, 1840.

The 20-year-old bride, already a monarch of three years, the first reigning British queen to get married since Queen Mary in 1554, wore what she herself described as “a white satin gown with a very deep flounce of Honiton lace, imitation of old,” along with her Turkish diamond earrings and her husband’s beautiful sapphire brooch.

The choice of fabric was practical, to wear Made in England from head to toe, to showcase the silk woven in the Spitafields, home of Huguenot silk weavers and the historic center of the London silk industry, and to support the lace industry in Bevon, which was at the time on a steep decline, but she let the embellishments and accoutrements carry romantic symbolisms, such as the orange blossoms representing fertility. Among her bridal decisions was to dress herself more as the would-be dutiful wife she turned out to be, foregoing her crown, fur, and other royal accessories in favor of a wreath made of myrtle and orange blossoms, which did bring her and Prince Albert what they symbolized—a brood of nine children.

But white was refreshingly new when Queen Victoria wore it as a bride. Before her, it was only the very rich who could afford to wear white, with resources to have it cleaned. Most everyone else preferred to have their wedding gown in bright colors so they could re-wear it for other special occasions.

FELINE CONSTRUCTION Ivory peau de sois column dress with full hand embellished ostrich feather wrap around

Although history’s very first photograph came out in 1826, attributed to French scientist Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the technology was not yet fully available when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840. Nevertheless, their wedding caught the attention of the press and, as news circulated across the continents, replete with paintings of the ceremony, also of a new generation of brides-to-be wide-eyed over their own walk down the aisle. The royal couple re-enacted their wedding in 1854, 14 years later, just so they could have photographic keepsakes of it.

The bride has since become a vision in white, from Elizabeth Taylor in a satin ball gown the shape of an hourglass by costume designer Helen Rose, showing off her waspy waist in her 1950 wedding to first husband Conrad Hilton and Jacky Kennedy in an Ann Lowe gown with a portrait neckline and a bouffant skirt when she married John F. Kennedy in 1953 to Audrey Hepburn in a Pierre Balmain off-white silk satin gown with a bateau neckline, shirred front, French sleeve, and buttoned back on her altar date with Mel Ferrer in 1954.

In recent history, white became even more historic with Amal Clooney in a classic Oscar de la Renta lace at her wedding to George Clooney in 2014, Priyanka Chopra in a dream dress by Ralph Lauren dripping with handbeading and handembroidery at her 2018 wedding to Nick Jonas, and Meghan Markle in a silk-cady gown by Givenchy’s Clare Waight with a minimal boat neck and embroidered veil when she wed Prince Harry in 2018.

The reason the white wedding dress has survived is because it can evolve and remain fashionable. It persists because it can be reinvented. —BBC

Now it is the turn of our very own Chris Nick to dream up more of these visions in white with his signature clean lines and tubular cuts that give a tribute to the female body, a shape he has constantly highlighted in his work since he began his career in 2019.

SKINNOVATION Embellished ivory bandeau paired with a low waist ivory embellished micro mini skirt with an over- sized silk mikado sash trail and a silk bow detail

Although the collection is a love letter to “something old,” “something new” is shaped by his youthful enthusiasms, which include, as it turns out, a fascination with old Hollywood, which inspires elements of “something borrowed” in his work.

“Merging the timeless elegance and silhouettes of old Hollywood and bringing them into the modern times have always been a goal of mine,” says Chris Nick. “Season after season since I started, elegance and sensuality have always been the two things I focus on.”

To produce the collection, the designer drew from the allure of old films as well as the personalities who shaped them without losing sight of today’s woman, particularly the Filipina. In some of the pieces, the deconstructed Filipino sleeves make their appearance again, but what appears to be the Chris Nick signature in this collection as in previous ones, is feminine elements merging with masculine tailoring to represent the modern Filipina or, in this case, the modern Filipino bride.

“In my vision, the modern bride is effortlessly chic and confidently sensual,” says Chris Nick. “She is known for her undeniable elegance and the simplistic approach she has with her style. She never has to try and she never has to be too much.”