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"We're in 2004, and I believe that a bride can have some variation if she wants," says Erisa Katsura, 39, creative director of the Yumi Katsura bridal line. For spring she designed an ice blue tulle sheath draped with silk flowers and a colorfully embroidered gown inspired by intricate thread work found in 19th century furniture. "I am slowly starting to bring in some color, letting brides know that it's all right," she explains.
For many women, rejecting the all-white wedding gown is more than all right. It's a badge of honor. One of the first color-infused dresses to take off at retail (and prove to designers that color was a way to stand out among the racks of white and ivory) was an ivory strapless gown with a sky blue sash by Amsale. On the message boards at theknot.com women who have worn the dress (and its string of imitators) proudly call themselves the blue-sash brides. In a recent poll by the site asking members for their take on colorful wedding dresses, women responded enthusiastically. Among the comments: "Three cheers for color!!! Being a devoted fan of Bjork (including her fashion shenanigans), I could never picture myself in a simple white dress." "If you want color, get color! It's YOUR wedding." "C'mon, do we really need the whole 'virginal' white thing anymore?"
Purists, take heart: for throngs of brides, the answer to that question remains "I do." Would Bride's magazine put an all-red wedding dress on the cover? "I don't think that's something we would do," admits editor in chief Millie Martini Bratten. "Most brides don't want to stray too far from a classic, timeless look."
But it was just one bride who turned the Western world on to white. She may have been royalty, but who knows? Maybe after a century and a half, another prominent bride will reverse the reign of white.