Last week, singer Kitchie Nadal made headlines for getting married in a P799 off-the-rack wedding gown. “It’s about the woman and not the dress,” stylist Nina Sandejas, the original source of the scoop, wrote in her blog. I would argue and say it’s more about the price tag than the actual dress.
In a country where we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fashion designers, choosing a ready-made wedding gown is either frowned-upon or met with genuine bewilderment. But there is a scene in the movie Bridesmaids that pretty much sums up the arguments in favor of RTW: Hours before the ceremony, Maya Rudolph’s character is found by her best friend (played by Kristen Wiig) sobbing in the bathtub of her apartment, wearing a tulle monstrosity that just arrived from her designer in France.
The ready-to-wed bride
Three years ago, Rosa Clará, a line of ready-to-wear wedding gowns made in Spain, opened its flagship boutique in Makati. Since they’ve set up shop, brides like Bea Soriano, Bianca Gonzalez, Patti Grandidge, and Patty Laurel have all gotten married in Rosa Clará. With options ranging from P70,000 to P130,000 (a far cry from the “practical” label attached to Kitchie’s gown), in certain circles, prêt-à-porter is the new premium.
For comparison, commissioning a custom-made dress by reputable designer is in the neighborhood of P90,000. However, like with most services, it’s best to go with someone whose work you’re familiar with to manage expectations. “Brides are seeing the convenience and practicality of knowing exactly what they are getting versus anxiously waiting and hoping that their gowns turn out the way they imagined from a designer’s sketch,” observes Obee Ham, head of business development of Trimark, the exclusive distributor of Rosa Clará.
In 2013, sought-after wedding gown designer Veluz Reyes decided to launch her own RTW bridal line. With an average price tag of P150,000, Veluz’s RTW bridal gowns are a steal in comparison to her custom-made ones, which go for more than twice the price. “It is still my custom dresses that form the bulk of my sales, but the demand for my RTW is strongly increasing. Majority of the ones ordering my RTW dresses are based overseas. I guess it is the culture of Filipinos—we are not yet fully accustomed to RTW dresses, but we’ll get there,” she says.
Unlike custom dresses, where “it is the designer’s technical abilities working to make the bride and her gown fit for each other,” based on her proportions, with ready-made gowns, it’s the sales assistants who take on a more crucial role.
“When it comes to the RTW dresses, the bride chooses from an array of dresses which (won’t necessarily) suit and complement her proportions. The sales representatives should present options that will suit the bride’s frame, (and advise which) cuts and silhouettes will work for her particular body type. And revisions on the fit should (take into consideration) the frame and proportion of the bride,” she explains.
Getting the price right
Since Rosa Clará’s arrival in Manila, more affordable concepts for ready-to-wear bridal gowns have become available. Last August, Karimadon launched a ready-made bridal line designed in collaboration with Eric Delos Santos. Brides-to-be can choose among 14 designs on their website and expect to shell out a reasonable amount, starting at P24,999 to P42,999 for a gown.
More recently, The Bridal Room set up shop in BF Homes, Parañaque. While their French-designed and more intricately beaded Celeste line costs between P50,000 to P100,000, they do have a more moderately priced Blanca collection, which is priced between P25,000 to P50,000. For budget-conscious brides, they also offer made-to-order entourage gowns for brides who’ve already found their wedding gowns elsewhere.
“The modern day bride wants to be more in control of how she looks on her wedding day. Our brides now are more practical—they realize that they don’t need to spend an arm and a leg for a custom-made gown when they can find something as unique and high quality in an RTW bridal shop,” The Bridal Room owner and manager Anna Tantuico notes.
Pre-wedding gown jitters
In a special press event held by Rosa Clará for select members of the press, I got to choose from a rack of weddings gowns and try them on. Seeing a variety of cuts and silhouettes before me pulled the metaphorical veil over my eyes and I knew right off the bat that certain styles wouldn’t work on my body type.
After a while, I realize that my eye kept returning to a particular gown after going through the entire rack. I return to it, convince myself that it’s mine, then drape it protectively over my forearm. When the attendance zips it up, the bodice fits like a dream, and a friend exclaims, “Wow, it hid everything you wanted to hide!”
I’m then whisked off for hair and makeup, then a photographer hands me a bouquet and takes my picture. I’m blushing as everyone stares on, but I’m no bride. Post-event, the PR team sends me my photos, along with a photo of a model wearing the exact same dress from the Rosa Clará catalog.
In comparison to the model, my photos are a lot less flattering (I’ll blame it on the dull yellow lighting), and the dress didn’t take as kindly to my generous hip width as I thought it would. If these were my actual wedding (or pre-nup) photos, I would’ve had the same nervous breakdown as Maya Rudolph in Bridesmaids.
But the gown didn’t have my name on it, and after the shoot, I put it back on the rack with no strings attached. In the same way that choosing a husband-to-be is (ideally) a deliberate decision, brides should be allowed to have options before settling on a wedding gown—and the options should include the ability to love it and leave it. And to later come back if it’s truly meant to be.
Rosa Clara is located at The Residences at Greenbelt Tower III, Paseo De Roxas corner Greenbelt Drive. For appointments, call (02) 238-1310.
The Bridal Room is located at the Mezzanine floor, JJACC Building, 169 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque. For appointments, call (02) 893-6726.
To see the RTW bridal collections of Veluz Reyes and Karimadon, visit www.veluzbride.com and www.karimadonfashion.com, respectively.