The Bride Wore Christian Lacroix . . . Assuming She Could Find a Dress
Bride #1: “Did you find your dress?”—or the less discreet “Who’s making your dress?”
Bride #2 (eyes cast downward. She’s dressed in her usual uniform of a near-sheer Alexander Wang T-shirt, blue jeans, and motorcycle boots): “Well . . . I. . . .”
Bride #1: “It’s fine if you don’t want to say anything. . . .”
Bride #2: “It’s not that. I just don’t know if I will find exactly what I’m looking for; there’s only so many available—and you can’t have one made anymore. . . .”
Bride #1 (with concern she hadn’t thought of whatever Bride #2 is talking about first): “Tell me.”
Bride #2: “Before I do, I have to preface it’s not what you’d expect from me, maybe a little more frilly than usual.”
Bride #1 nods; her eyes widen.
Bride #2: “Christian Lacroix couture.”
With the closing of the house last year, there are only so many dresses available at auction or from dealers, a select few of which would be wedding-appropriate. Herein lies the problem with revealing this little secret: Your best friend may be bidding next to you. This past Sunday, Dominique Chombert and Françoise Sternbach presented an auction of Christian Lacroix haute couture from spring/summer 1987 from Chayette & Cheval in Paris at Drouot Richelieu. Even more enchanting is that the pieces were from Lacroix’s tenure at Patou. Chombert confirmed that prior to the sale, there’d been inquiries about wedding-worthy dresses.
What makes the Lacroix pursuit so intriguing is that it extends to the sort of girl who might normally choose a darker look. She may like her Balmain and Givenchy (interesting that both houses were more romantic historically)—but she still sees something in the whimsy of Lacroix. Look to the beige-and-periwinkle tulle dress Ashley Olsen chose for a London event in February (Mary-Kate wore silver lace Christian Lacroix Couture to the Met Ball last year) or Diane Kruger’s fuchsia column at this year’s Golden Globes.
“The last fashion-dreams maker” is the mantle French vintage expert Didier Ludot gives to Lacroix, noting that of late he’s been receiving requests on par with those he usually has for Dior or Schiaparelli. Los Angeles–based dealers Cameron Silver of Decades, Inc., and Katy Rodriguez of Resurrection both feel that Lacroix’s eighties “demi-couture” work has particular appeal to their young clients. Silver has always bought Lacroix. “It’s not just the closing of the house, more the moment of his style being revived in the past few years,” he says. “Pouf dresses are in great demand.” As for other wedding requests, Silver quickly cites calls for Balmain couture “fantasy-princess dresses” from the fifties and sixties (think Penélope Cruz at last year’s Oscars). He also predicts Olivier Theyskens for Rochas will be very popular (“We just bought most of the archive,” he reveals). Here, again, is evidence of the appeal of old-world—hard to come by—fantasy.
Perhaps it’s this facet of Lacroix that heightens the appeal of a frothy dress to a girl who might otherwise go more minimal. While she doesn’t often get requests for his “wedding dresses,” Rodriguez has seen a certain fascination again among her younger clients. It’s a love she shares; not only does she collect Lacroix, his designs provide inspiration for the petticoats and volume in her own line. “I’m a Christian Lacroix freak,” says Rodriguez. One of her favorite personal pieces is the black jacket with the gem-embellished cross as seen paired with jeans on the cover of Vogue in November 1988. “When I was young, that was such a major cover. I thought, That’s how I want to look. That moment is so right now.”
Rodriguez may best explain the sentiments behind the silent wedding-dress quest. “Lacroix’s clothes are so magical, feminine, and otherworldly,” she says. “Everything Lacroix does is about absolute beauty, color, and joy.”