Sparkles & Lace: Dressing the Part

Your one-stop guide to bridal fashion in Moscow: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Style in Russia tends to fall a decade or two behind the West, despite a few pockets of trendiness in the capital. When it comes to wedding fashion, Moscow is still lightyears behind in terms of selection, price and customer service.

A sparkling, puffy-sleeved princess wedding gown may have been your dream dress when you were six years old, but now that you are older and wiser, you probably have more refined taste. If so, Moscow is not the place for you. But don't despair, there is hope.

Those into the "old school" Moscow look (à la Barbie-goes-to-the-prom) can head to Wedding Salon Kapriz. The shop on Novinsky Bulvar boasts a wide selection of unknown Italian designers and domestic dresses reminiscent of the gown Belle wore to the ball in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." At time of writing, the shop's first window boasted a dusty rose and off-white ball gown with a sweetheart, corset top and silk-screened rose details on the skirt. The floral theme continues with a rose-shaped bundle of fabric at the right shoulder. How much does this fairytale Italian-made nightmare cost? 107,000 rubles ($3,800). Those looking to spend less can shell out 47,000 rubles, for a Russian — in every sense of the word — silver mermaid dress with rhinestone spaghetti straps and a voluminous bustle. 

If you can't find what you want in the shop, Salon Kapriz highlights 240 dresses on its website, If sparkle and flare are your thing, then you're in luck. Of the 240 dresses available, only two are without lace, bows, embroidery, decorative flowers, bustles, beading, trains or sparkles of some kind, and the majority boasts at least two of the aforementioned styles. Three, maybe, if you count the demure boat-neck gown (108,000 rubles) by Italian brand Cielo Blu, where the crystal details that tie together the dress's low back squeak by unnoticed.

Even this shop has its brightside. Service and "the experience" are everything when it comes to buying a gown, and the shop attendant at Salon Kapriz, dressed head-to-toe in velour, was more than attentive, quick to say that while most dresses take three months to make and tailor, the shop is willing to work with brides on tighter deadlines (probably for a little extra cash).

Those with more refined tastes would do better to head to Plumage. The Kutuzovsky Prospekt boutique was the first shop to bring Vera Wang dresses to Moscow, and keeps a beautiful selection of international designers. Russians comprise 99 percent of the shop's clientele, but its director, Natalia Batura, said the majority of her staff speaks enough English to help any bride get through the grueling process of finding the perfect dress. The boutique sells big names like Monique Lhuillier and Badgley Mischka, but Vera Wang is still the big seller, all the more so after the Russian success of Hollywood blockbuster "Bride Wars," where a Vera Wang dress competed for attention alongside starlets Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway. Batura takes issue, however, with one of the movie's famous quotes, when Hudson's character claims, "You don't alter Vera Wang to fit you. You alter yourself to fit Vera." Plumage, she stresses, has its own atelier to make sure the dress fits your frame perfectly. And if you can't find the style or size you're looking for, the shop can order exactly what you need.

The offerings aren't cheap, with the average price of a dress at Plumage running between 170,000 and 200,000 rubles. A beautiful lace couture dress can run up to a million rubles. Those pining for a Vera Wang should be prepared to pay upwards of 170,000 rubles for her ready-to-wear dresses and as much as 840,000 rubles for couture. For brides hoping to keep it local, respected Russian designer Igor Chapurin has an exclusive line of couture dresses for the boutique. There are also plenty of accessories, from Italian shoes to tiaras by American brand Bridal Symphony, as well as evening dresses for guests, because, according to Batura, "guests who aren't dressed properly can ruin a wedding completely."

From Vera Wang to "Beauty and the Beast," Moscow's shops have wedding fever.

Those brides hoping to stand out should head to Atelier Sol on Lyalin Pereulok, near Kursky train station, where a team of designers sews one-of-a-kind gowns for the city's most discerning brides. The tailors can create almost anything to fit any figure, from an adapted version of your dream gown for shotgun weddings to more conservative tea-length dresses for second or fifth time brides. The studio also offers Valentino and Emanuel Ungaro sketches that brides can choose from. The prices are surprisingly appealing. The cost of a ball gown starts at 33,000 rubles, plus the price of fabric, and takes from four to six weeks to complete.

Budget shoppers have a few options, including Russian sites like, where all of the top 100 best sellers run under 10,000 rubles. But the best option might be going abroad or at least looking for foreign-run sites. delivers to Russia and their wedding boutique currently stocks a floor-length Max Azaria silk crepe dress for 22,550 rubles. Halston Heritage, Antik Batik, Alice + Olivia and Issa dresses for under 27,420 rubles don't look out of place next to Lela Rose and Jason Wu options. Shipping to Russia only costs an extra 914 rubles.

Not everyone has the option of international travel, or a spare hundred thousand rubles lying around. In that case, there's always the ZAGs website, where "vintage" dresses abound. One woman in Marino, in southeastern Moscow, offers her short white graduation dress to future brides: "Wore it once. Laces up the back."

Moscow Guide Summer 2011
Moscow Guide Summer 2011
The Moscow Summer Guide is dedicated to the wedding theme, because traditionally summer in Moscow is a time of weddings. The journal tells about the best hotels that cater to newly-weds, and about the locations that young couples traditionally visit on their wedding days. The publication gives advice on choosing a wedding dress and offers an overview of spas that young couples must certainly visit on the eve of the big ceremony. The publication informs the reader about the best cultural events in Moscow this summer.
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