Why Are Philly Brides So Obsessed With This Risk-Taking Wedding Dress?

Rue De Seine's Avril gown is popping up in weddings all over the city.

The Avril wedding gown by Rue De Seine. Photo via Rue De Seine website

Philly is a big city, so it can’t really be defined by one wedding style. Just like any other major metropolitan area, we host classic weddingsmodern weddingsglamorous weddings and more. But we’ve also got an artsy, scrappy side; a side that knows how to make due with what we’ve got and transform it into something interesting and elegant. We turn old factories and technical schools into wedding venues, make our own bouquets from flowers purchased a Whole Foods, and throw surprise weddings at coffee shops.  The country at large is taking note of our unique approach, too, with Philly-based white-box art gallery fetes and modern, candle-filled affairs alike appearing in national publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings and Brides.

If you’re going to have a creative wedding, you’re going to need a creative wedding dress. And these days, there’s one gown that Philly brides are increasingly drawn to: “Avril” by Rue De Seine. With bold, all-over Cornellli lace that extends from a low-cut back into a dramatic train, its visual impact is immediate. The long, over-the-hand sleeves pull directly from the boho-in-the-city look that Philly-based mega-brand Free People has come to be known for, the sheath silhouette is statement-making without being overly sexy, and we here at PW are seeing it pop up with increasingly regularity in the real Philly weddings that come across our desks.

From left to right: Ayse Cueto and Danielle Keller wearing the Avril wedding dress by Rue De Seine. Photographs by M2 Photography and Peach Plum Pear Photography.

There’s Ayse Cueto (above left), who paired the gown with red velvet platforms for her winter wedding to Eric Boemer at the Horticulture Center. (Her wedding is featured in the Summer/Fall 2018 print issue of Philadelphia Wedding.) Danielle Keller (above right) wore the style to wed Pat Findley in their funky Fleisher Art Memorial wedding last November. Jasmine Patel, an interactive designer with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, also opted for the style for her Bok Building wedding.

Which all bears the question: Why Avril?

“It’s artsy and edgy, but the fit is impeccable,” says Lovely Bride salon owner Ivy Kaplin. (Lovely is the exclusive purveyor of Rue De Seine in Philadelphia, and, as a result, the only place to purchase Avril in our metro area.) “It hits in all the right places. Girls bodies look good in it.”

Which is, Kaplin thinks, a key part of what moves it off the rack.

“When something fits well, people are willing to push their own boundaries a little. If a bride is a little edgier than her mom, but [the gown] doesn’t fit great, Mom isn’t going to be into it. But if [the dress] fits, it really tilts the scale.”

Fit is also what makes it clear that Avril isn’t as “boho” as first impressions might lead you to believe. Sure, the front slit is a little racy, but the A-line silhouette is actually as classic as it comes in the world of wedding gown styles. Avril’s high neck and long sleeves provide the full-coverage often necessary for ceremonies taking place in religious institutions, and, with underlays available in both ivory and a nude, the gown can look as covered up or as sheer as you’d like.

Photo via Rue De Siene’s website

This seamless flitting between the traditional and the new makes Avril pretty much the perfect metaphor for our city,  currently caught up in its own mix of the past and the future. Our long history means we’ve had time to figure out what works, but our thriving creative scene, often stereotyped through the lens of the Fishtown hipster, means we aren’t afraid to take risks. As the home of URBN, we value fashion and style, but practicality and comfort is never far from top of mind. Avril is just as show-stopping as the Michael Costello gown Beyonce wore on the 2014 Grammy’s red carpet, but its mesh lining is, according to one bride who wore it, “breathable and surprisingly light.”

There’s also the matter of cost: Retailing for $3,250, it’s more than the $1,700 the average American bride spends on her wedding dress, but it’s still well below the $10,000-and-above price point couture brands like Mira Zwilinger and Berta often command for their designs. As the nation’s 9th most expensive place to get hitched — ahead of Miami and Houston but behind Boston and New York — this, too, make sense for Philly.

Factor in all of these details, and it’s no wonder we’re seeing a critical mass of Philly girls donning Avril for their wedding day.

“It’s so classic, but also really modern,” says Cueto, who, not for nothing, is an assistant buyer at Free People. “That’s what drew me to it. And since the [shell] is nylon, it felt like I was wearing nothing. I danced all night and felt like a queen.”

But is Avril really as popular as Instagram and real wedding features would lead us to believe?

In some ways yes, and in some ways no.

When Kaplin first decided to carry Avril at Lovely in 2016, she thought of the style as of a gamble. There was “something cool” about the gown, and “show pony” styles like Avril are a strategic choice from a foot traffic perspective. (After going viral on social media, these more Insta-friendly dresses will draw brides who are looking to try them on into a salon.) So she was pleasantly surprised when four brides wound up purchasing Avril during Lovely’s first Rue De Seine trunk show.

“It’s only gotten more popular from a try-on perspective,” says Kaplin. “Everyone has seen someone in it.”

When it comes to the Rue De Seine brand, Avril is a strong seller for Lovely, but it’s not ultimately one of the most popular styles in the store overall. According to Kaplin, that honor is reserved for simpler looks like Belmont from Sarah Seven. (It’s worth noting, though, that the Pheonix gown by Lovers Society is also a top-seller for Lovely — and that, with its distinct lace, nude underlay, and long train, it bears close resemblance to Avril.)

Still, if we had to pick only one wedding dress to represent Philly as a city, we could do a lot worse. Avril is cool without being kooky, sexy without being ostentatious, and eye-catching without being in-your-face. It’s the perfect mix of old and new sensibilities, just like Philly itself. We hope area brides continue to rock the style for years to come.

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