Considering the effort it takes to pull off a wedding (and we’re just talking about the dress here), it’s surprising there hasn’t been more crossover between bridal designers and regular old fashion folk—who are, after all, pretty good at creating special occasion clothes. Reem Acra, Vera Wang, and Monique Lhuillier come to mind as those who started with wedding gowns and branched into ready-to-wear. Now there’s another designer joining their ranks: Paris-based Delphine Manivet, who also opened a boutique on the Upper East Side of Manhattan a few months ago.
The sunny, laid-back blonde with a penchant for skinny jeans and Miu Miu loafers has been hand-making lacy, bohemian-inflected, gently retro wedding gowns for over ten years in Paris. But it was 2011 when her name first hit the public, when she designed Lily Allen’s vintage-looking lace dress and beat out Karl Lagerfeld, among other big names vying for the job. Since then she’s been slyly expanding her offers beyond the aisle. A small collection of ready-to-wear evening clothes is sold at Barney’s and Isetan in Asia. And last summer, Manivet designed a simple, stunning haute couture collection of formal gowns, one of which—black and full-skirted, with a high neck and white mink cuffs—was just worn at Riley Keough’s wedding, by the mother of the bride, Lisa Marie Presley. Not surprisingly Manivet dressed Keough, too, in a simple fitted ivory column out of double lace. But with her hair long and loose, without a veil, the dress could have been any other delicate, lovingly crafted evening gown—which is often Manivet’s point. “I trained to be a fashion designer at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris,” she says, “and worked for Rochas for two years doing evening wear. It was only in the search for my own wedding dress that led me to start the business I have now. I figured there had to be other women like me who want something a little more fashion, less staged and stiff, with really nice fabric.”
Though Manivet’s diversifying business is buoyed by her bridal sales, the reason most people are talking about her now is her celebrity scores. She dressed Kristen Wiig for the 2015 Golden Globes in a delicate ivory satin chiffon column, its unstructured silhouette very much part of the slouchy red carpet trend of the moment. And Manivet landed the ultimate fashion prize last year when Sarah Jessica Parker launched her shoe line, dressing her for three different promotional events, in a full-skirted black dress with revealing transparent organza bands; a long-sleeved, knee-length cocktail dress out of gold silk and Lurex; and another full-skirted, mid-calf lacy knockout, this time in white. “Whether they’re famous or not, I normally approach all my clients in the same way,” Manivet says. “But with Sarah Jessica, who is such an icon, it was the first time that I literally cried when I got a commission. She reinvented style.” Sort of like how, on a smaller scale, Manivet is reinventing bridal. Maybe it’s because she’s French that she intrinsically understands: the only good cream puff is the kind you eat.
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