Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week concludes its latest edition as an internationally established event
The first edition of Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week under the leadership of Albasarí Caro had high expectations and faced the challenge of renewing and accelerating its growth after the return to post-pandemic normalcy. Held between April 19 and 23 at the Montjuïc venue of Fira de Barcelona, the event turned out to be a great success with higher attendance figures than those recorded in 2019 and an overall optimistic atmosphere. The return of Asian buyers and the strong presence of industry professionals throughout the trade show and runway show days were particularly noteworthy.
In a recent interview with FashionNetwork.com, the director of the event stated that "this edition confirms that the global bridal fashion market is taking off after the pandemic and holds good growth prospects. It also reinforces Barcelona's position as the premier destination for observing trends and closing business deals due to the quality and internationality of the brands present."
Despite the blow dealt by Covid-19, the commercial potential of the bridal fashion sector seems to have remained intact. Weddings and celebrations may have been disrupted or postponed, but the global bridal fashion market is still expected to maintain a steady growth of 4% until 2030, according to consultancy firm Global Industry Analysts.
350 exhibitors and a significant number of Asian buyers
The latest data published by the organisation shows that the professional trade show, promoted by Fira de Barcelona with the support of the Department of Business and Labor of the Generalitat de Catalunya, was held in two pavilions and attracted more than 350 brands, 76% of which were international, and 21,500 visitors, marking a 15% increase from the previous year. The percentage of international attendees has been steadily increasing and now surpasses 70% of visitors, with buyers coming from 90 different countries.
Among them, 1529 were national and international strategic buyers invited by BBFW. The "qualitative selection" of multi-brand stores and distributors mainly focused on "growth markets" such as China, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia and the U.S. The European presence was also notable, led by countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Holland and Portugal.
Spain, the world's second largest exporter of bridal fashion, had the largest number of exhibitors at the fair, with brands such as Esther Noriega, Formoso and Matilde Cano. The United States was the second most represented market, with brands such as Justin Alexander or Alana Rose. France also had a significant presence, with Cymbeline, Tony Ward Bridal and Stephane Rolland. Italy, Poland and the Netherlands were also well represented.
What's more, 30% of the participants were companies attending the fair for the first time. The fair also had a showroom space dedicated to haute couture firms with bridal collections, such as Zuhair Murad, Jenny Packham and Inés di Santo.
The fashion shows at the event were a huge success. The 34 shows of the designers from 15 different countries were at "practically full capacity". Notably, the Lebanese fashion house Elie Saab presented its first-ever bridal fashion show at Barcelona Bridal Night, making it one of the event's highlights.
Elie Saab and Jimmy Choo: major names on the catwalk
Elie Saab Jr., CEO of Elie Saab and son of the brand's founder, praised the event and said, "Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week has done an outstanding job in establishing itself as a must-attend event for any brand operating in the bridal universe."
Another important participant was designer Jimmy Choo, known for his unique shoes. The Malaysian-born designer commented on the event's "evolution as a commercial platform for international growth" and attended the event to present the bridal collections of his brand The Atelier.
In addition, the iconic Spanish bridal brands Rosa Clará and Pronovias presented two highly anticipated fashion shows. While the Barcelona-based designer, Rosa Clará, showcased a collection of sophisticated and elegant silhouettes crafted from delicate lace and soft tulle, worn by personalities such as Peruvian presenter Natalie Vértiz and model Andrea Martínez; the brand led by Amandine Ohayon, Pronovias, wowed the audience with its display of classic silhouettes and casual looks, worn by internationally renowned supermodels like Blanca Padilla and Sara Sampaio.
The event also showcased the latest bridal collections of Spanish designers including Jesús Peiró, Yolancris, Sophie et Voilà, Isabel Sanchís, Lorena Formoso, Marco&Maria, Ramon Sanjurjo, Ogadenia Couture, Pedro Palmas, and Lucas Balboa.
International collections also stood out with brands such as Italy's Nicole Milano, Demetrios and Carlo Pignatelli; Ukraine's Wona Concept & Eva Lendel; Vietnam's Joli Poli; Poland's Agnieszka Swiatly; Belgian brands Marylise, Rembo Styling & Carta Branca; French brand Cymbeline; Bulgarian brand Julia Kontogruni; Dutch brand Modeca; American brand Madeline; Turkish brand Madam Burcu and Canadian brand Ines di Santo, which even opted for a unique presentation format in the Mies Van Der Rohe pavilion.
One of the noteworthy additions to this year's BBFW was the inaugural Barcelona Bridal Fashion Awards, which aimed to recognise excellence in "sustainability, innovation, art and quality" across the bridal fashion industry. The winners included Vivienne Westwood for best wedding dress, Viktor & Rolf Mariage for their bridal collection, Carlo Pignatelli for his bridal collection, Cortana for its cocktail designs, Isabel Sanchis for her sustainable party dress, Monvieve for its photo campaign, Nicole & Felicia Chang for emerging talent, and fashion designer Professor Jimmy Choo OBE, creative director of The Atelier Couture, for his outstanding professional career. Additionally, entrepreneur Yew Loh, CEO of the Malaysian brand, was awarded a special honour for his role as strategic brand ambassador.
The awards were supported by a selection committee comprising prominent figures from the fashion industry, including photographer Manuel Outumuro, Fashion Institute of Technology professor Paula Varsalona, and fashion journalists Leticia García (SModa), María José Gonzálvez (Vogue México) and Triana Alonso (FashionNetwork.com). Additionally, a professional jury was headed by the director of the event, Albasarí Caro, and consisted of individuals such as editor-in-chief of Elle Sposa, Giovanni Sparacio, wedding planner Anna Francisco, Japanese editor Haruhi Abe, Belgian curator Elisa De Wyngaert, and founder of Green Wedding Shoes, Jen Campbell.
The dates for the next edition of the event have already been announced: from April 17 to April 21, 2024.
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