For the last few years bridal fashion has been dominated by Vera Wang and Reem Accra. Like Priscilla of Boston before them, these two houses reigned supreme when it came to bridal fashion. However there’s a new pretender to challenge them and he’s straight from a hit reality show. Who is this usurper? None other than Austin Scarlett, a contestant from Season One of Bravo TV’s blockbuster Project Runway.
Fans of the show will instantly recognize him as the blond god who bounced off winner Jay McCarroll’s court jestering and Wendy Pepper’s wicked stepmother snarling. He was, in turn, dramatic, sweetly bitchy and wildly funny. He knew how to win hearts with his grand gestures and sly smirks.
He was also hugely talented.
Scarlett won the Swimsuit Episode’s competition only to be let go on the big evening gown one. This was the contest to see what four remaining designers would make it to Olympus Fashion Week. Sadly enough Scartlett’s creation was too Hollywood glamorous for the judges and he was disqualified. His work then caught the eye of Amsale Abarra, the owner and founder of the Amsale Design Group. She quickly recruited the fan and audience favorite to head her brand new Kenneth Pool Couturier Bridal line. His eye for glamour as well as his technical expertise struck her as unique and special. While other Season One alumni were struggling, Scarlett was on his way to success and fame.
The twenty-six year old designer has a tendre for old Hollywood style and pizzazz, despite his woodsy Oregon upbringing. His wedding gown collection for Spring 2007 should be worn on Oscar night as opposed to some Sunday afternoon nuptials. One amazing confection is a tribute to Jean Harlow. It is a beaded tulle sheath adorned with vintage inspired embroidery, A deep V neck and low illusion back complete this Thirties era siren look. Another glam style is a flapper inspired beaded gown, also made of tulle with delicate embroidery and a three tiered skirt. Scarlett gives it an Empire style bodice and beaded cap sleeves. Another masterpiece is shimmery sheath complete with a sheer overlay and ruffled tulle shawl.
The designer is a big fan of traditional designs too. Many of his gowns feature the full circle skirts with chapel length trains. The only difference between these and the David ‘s Bridals’ dresses are the intricately detailed bodices. These come in variations that feature curved or scalloped necklines highlighted with pearl or crystal beading. One stand out is a lavender strapless A line gown with a dropped waist leading into a bell skirt. The bodice , train and front skirt are adorned with the rarely used emerald cut crystals Another full skirt creation has asymmetrical hand pleating which lends a whimsical air to an otherwise staid look. Another gown has its’ skirt covered in randomly sewn crystal beads. The effect is an ethereal dew kissed sexy fairy look that can soften even the most harshest looking of brides. The backs on all his traditional styles are standard shaped, dipping low into the skirt and are fastened by hand sewn glove style buttoning.
Make no mistake Austin Scarlett’s gown are couturier expensive ranging from $4,000 to $11,000. The high prices are well worth it though. Amsale gowns are known for their hand beading, luxe fabrics, and very detailed work. Unlike other bridal houses, Amsale will let prospective brides work with Scarlett in creating one of a kind gowns. This will obviously cost more (read well over $15,000) but the bride will have a dress made exactly to her tastes and wishes. This is great for Manhattan area girls who can take their lunch hours and spend them with the designer. Amsale is sold around the world however and can even be found in the famous London department store Harrod’s as well as to a few Canadian bridal salons. The company website lists addresses and phone numbers of shops who carry the Kenneth Pool designs so Scarlett is not completely out of reach to the American public.
Unfortunately Mr. Scarlett does not create any bridesmaid or mother of the bride and mother of the groom gowns. Hopefully that will be on his future agenda. He also doesn’t have a line of formal occasion gowns although the wedding dresses can double as debutante gear. The gown colors come in traditional white and ivory. There are some variations such as gold and peach worked into the ivory colored gowns. Silver is sometimes used with white to give a shimmery iced look to the bride.
The newest king of bridal couture is definitely Austen Scarlett. He will bring fresh life into the most traditional of gowns and make it a wonderment to behold. Long may he reign over Amsale’s Kenneth Pool line!