Copycat Wedding Gowns
'I wore an A-list wedding dress!'
By CARRIE SEIM
Like millions of women around the world, Lisa Sharma was absolutely mesmerized as she watched Kate Middleton march down the lengthy aisle of Westminster Abbey on April 29.
“Her dress was spectacular — it was classy and elegant,” says Sharma, who was not yet engaged as she sat in her East Village apartment, transfixed by the royal wedding.
“I thought to myself, ‘My goodness, if I ever get married, this is exactly the dress I would wear on my wedding day.’ ”
Less than five months later, the curvy brunette made good on that promise, walking down the aisle at Manhattan’s Essex House hotel in an identical replica of Middleton’s long-sleeve satin-and-lace gown.
“I felt like a princess and I looked like a princess,” says the “30-something,” who, like Middleton, quit her job after her wedding to settle into married life.
Sharma is part of a small but dedicated bevy of New York-area brides who are donning duplicates of wedding dresses worn by their favorite celebrity style icons.
Boldface names like Middleton, her little sister Pippa, Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan in “Twilight,” and even doomed newlywed Kim Kardashian have all inspired big-day dresses this year.
A recent poll on WeddingChannel.com found that 20 percent of the site’s readers have worn or would consider wearing a celeb-inspired wedding gown.
As luck would have it, Sharma’s boyfriend proposed just a few weeks after the Windsors’ wedding.
So when she heard David’s Bridal had created a knockoff of Kate Middleton’s Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen gown for just $999, she made a beeline for the branch on Sixth Avenue at West 25th Street, clutching her royal-wedding edition of People magazine.
“I saw the floor model and said, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s the dress I want!’ ” she recalls. She refused to try on any other gowns. But the sample was far too big for Sharma, and a dress in her size wouldn’t be available until November — two months after her big day. Determined, she went home and called every David’s Bridal in the tristate area, finally striking gold with a size 8 floor model at a store in Danbury, Conn.
“We had to drive 2½ hours. Then my poor fiancé sat in the car for two hours in the July heat while I tried on the dress,” she says with a laugh.
“But it was so worth it.”
Not surprisingly, Sharma’s veil, tiara, shoes and the vintage Rolls-Royce that escorted her to the ceremony were also all inspired by HRH Catherine.
She’s not alone — plenty of other young women are following suit, snapping up different gowns donned by celebs.
“The aisle becomes the next red carpet, and we analyze it for trends,” says WeddingChannel.com associate editor Amy Eisinger.
Eisinger lists Grace Kelly as the original celebrity wedding muse, but says that ABS by Allen Schwartz’s 2010 knockoff of Chelsea Clinton’s Vera Wang gown was the first replica dress brought to the mass market at an affordable price. She notes that it’s far more common for brides to borrow a single element from a star’s wedding look — say, a sleeve-length or veil style — than duplicate a gown thread for thread.
“New York women have their own defined sense of style, and don’t want to own up to what they’re ‘stealing,’ ” Eisinger says.
“Do you really want to say, ‘I copied my wedding-day look from “Twilight,” that teen novel?’ ”
Well, yes, actually, if you’re Christine Fritz. While not a New Yorker, the 46-year-old airline reservations agent and self-described “Twi-Hard fan” from Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the first brides in the country to snag a replica Bella wedding dress.
“I went to see [‘Twilight’ movie] ‘Breaking Dawn’ because I was eager to see what her dress looked like,” says Fritz, who notes she hasn’t missed a single installment of the franchise. “I said, ‘Wow, that’s it — that’s my dress!’ ”
The recently engaged Fritz, a mother of three who owns all the “Twilight” books, then caught a glimpse of the Bella dress, being sold for $799 in the window of an Alfred Angelo Bridal boutique on her way to work a few weeks ago.
“I pulled over the car — I had to buy it. I also have my name signed on Edward’s [cardboard cutout] — so he’s mine when this is over,” laughs Fritz, whose 19-year-old daughter witnessed the impromptu gown purchase, slightly chagrined. “She said, ‘Mom, you’re such a dork, but get it!’ ”
Fritz, who will remarry her ex-husband Feb. 17 (they were originally married in 2002 and divorced in 2008), happily admits that she’s not exactly acting her age by wearing a wedding gown inspired by a fictional character favored by tweens. “But in my mind, I’m marrying my Edward,” she avows.
While Fritz embraces any “Twilight” comparisons, there are also brides who accidentally choose a wedding dress that suddenly gets worn — and then made famous — by an A-lister.
Sandy O’Hearen, who lives in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, and is the chief financial officer for Tribeca Enterprises, first saw the dress of her dreams in the summer of 2010. The 40-something had barely started dating her future husband when a personal trainer showed her a photo of a silk chiffon sheath gown with a cowl draped neckline from bridal designer Matthew Christopher.
“She was teasing me, ‘You’re going to marry him, and this is the dress you’re going to get married in — the silhouette is perfect for your body,’ ” remembers O’Hearen. The prediction proved prescient — when O’Hearen tried on the $2,850 dress in a showroom, she was sold.
“I felt giddy, I felt pretty,” she says. “It accentuates all the right parts.”
But in April 2011, Pippa Middleton’s parts were being accentuated in an uncannily similar dress (by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen) while serving as maid-of-honor for sister Kate. Worse, the world’s spotlight shone on the gown a full year before O’Hearen’s nuptials, planned for this summer.
“My hope is, honestly, that no one will particularly make the connection,” says O’Hearen. “[Pippa’s] a lovely girl, but I didn’t watch the royal wedding. It wasn’t really on my radar.
“I’d never pick something because a celebrity wore it, and certainly not a wedding dress — that’s such a personal thing.”
Yet Erin Halper, a 32-year-old who runs a financial marketing firm, says she selected her one-shoulder wedding dress precisely because it mimicked Michelle Obama’s inaugural ball gown.
“I really wanted a dress that looked very much of this time, of this era,” explains Halper.
“I knew that if it was something like what Michelle wore, then it would be trendy.”
In January 2009, Halper watched the Obamas waltzing on TV from her Midtown East apartment. “I remember saying, ‘Wow, if I could have that in a wedding dress, it would be amazing.’ ” She was married 10 months later.
While she couldn’t afford the original Jason Wu design, she says her $1,800 Pronovias gown was an ideal imitation — albeit a bit sexier. “I feel like if Michelle had seen my dress, she would have been like, ‘Oh my God, that looks like my dress!’ ”
Ultimately, copycat gowns fall in and out of favor along with their famous models. WeddingChannel.com’s Eisinger points out that the previously hotly anticipated Kim Kardashian replica gown by Vera Wang for David’s Bridal (expected to be in stores this spring) is now somewhat stigmatized.
“Brides kind of want to keep it at arm’s length,” she says.
On the other hand, says Reed Kimmel, owner of RK Bridal on West 39th Street, “Kate Middleton could have worn a burlap bag and people would have jumped to wear it.”
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Ermm... the Twilight women is the only one who concerns me. It's a little freaky hearing her talk about the books in such a way, about how she imagines that she's marrying Edward. That said, I can see why women would copy a favorite celebrity or characters wedding gown. They make a certain look seem appealing and people always want to emulate those that they admire. Especially in the case of Princess Catherine's because her dress was stunning. And quite a change from the strapless gowns that many women seem to favor. Personally, I don't think I would outright copy a celebrity knock-off dress but perhaps look at a certain gown and take inspiration from it. It seems sort of tacky in a way to directly copy someone else's look.
http://miss-rumphius.tumblr.com/ "It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable." Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I enjoy looking at celebrities, fashion shows, magazines .. etc and admiring their dresses. But I would never, ever, ever copy someone else's wedding gown or anything else for that matter. Its a very unattractive when you are unoriginal when someone's done it already it has lost its appeal especially when the wedding is done so publicly and have seen worldwide. You become a copycat in front of all your friends & family. Whats cool about that?
i think the "copycat" jason wu dress is different enough that no one would think it was a copy. and i dont think that particular bride should be embarrassed about it.
but the woman with the "twilight" or "kate middleton" dress on the other hand....
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