The news that Silvio Berlusconi, once-and-possible-future-Italian-PM-candidate and always colourful character, is engaged to be married to his 27-year-old girlfriend begs the usual question: not “wait, what about all his bunga-bunga?” but rather, “what will she wear?”
Presumably, it would be useful for a woman marrying a potential political player to dress with patriotism in mind – ie Kate Middleton – but this presents an interesting conundrum, because of all the big four fashion capitals, Italy has been the slowest to embrace that emerging and potentially very lucrative market known as wedding dresses. Granted, Valentino Garavani used to have something of a lock on European royal weddings, and just did Anne Hathaway’s dress, but a) he showed in Paris, and b) he’s officially retired.
After all, women who normally are quite chary with a clothing allowance will often splurge widely on their nuptial gown, and designers have recently begun to take advantage of the situation. In the US, everyone from Oscar de la Renta to Carolina Herrera, Marchesa and even J Crew have developed specialised wedding collections; in the UK, so have Matthew Williamson and Alice Temperley. Jimmy Choo has a thriving line in wedding shoes. Vera Wang told me while we were chatting at her recent pre-fall collection that she was about to embark on a big bridal store opening push in China. In France, couture houses have always functioned as quasi-wedding specialists.
However, the only Italian designer I can recall that has overtly gone into the wedding market is Alberta Ferretti, who launched her bridal line in 2009. New shoe designer George Caovilla also has a niche wedding collection, which even includes some bridal high-tops (for the Kristen Stewart types among us). Giambattista Valli created both Margherita Missoni’s recent dress and Jessica Biel’s, and yet even he hasn’t gone full-fledged into the market. Where’s a backer when a designer needs one? There’s opportunity there, I know it. Maybe this is the moment for someone (Mr Berlusconi?) to seize it.