Here’s your exclusive first look at the collection for BHLDN.
Words by Halie LeSavage
According to designer Carly Cushnie’s DMs, women really miss her wedding dresses.
Cushnie had introduced bridal to her namesake collection in 2017. Three years later, the chance to wear Cushnie at the altar disappeared: Financial pressures from the Covid-19 pandemic forced the designer to close her brand, worn by everyone from Michelle Obama to Beyoncé, in 2020. Brides-to-be who’d planned to walk down the aisle in Cushnie, and built entire Pinterest boards around that dream, were crushed. “When I announced my closing, the amount of people who said, ‘I wanted to wear you for my wedding…'” Cushnie, standing with me in front of a rack of wedding dress samples, makes a sweeping motion with her hands—her sign for so many people. “And I still get messages asking me when I’m going to come back, or this and that.”
The designer has had an answer to those messages for more than a year, but she’s had to keep it a secret. We can exclusively reveal it now: Yes, Carly Cushnie is coming back to bridal. She’s making her hoped-for return to wedding dress design through a capsule with BHLDN, Anthropologie’s in-house wedding boutique. The first collection encapsulates everything Cushnie brides loved about her original collection—sensual draping, tailoring, not an embellishment or princess skirt in sight—plus a few dresses for bridesmaids (or chic guests who just missed the cut). Prices range from $398 to $1,400.
Walking through the collection with the designer, on-set with BHLDN at the lookbook photoshoot, I could feel would-be Cushnie brides’ excitement. There’s a long, slit-leg gown topped by an off-the-shoulder cloud bodice; a sleek, two-piece white suit with draped sleeves; a short mini dress with tiers plissé ruffles and waist-defining cutouts. The entire line also has a broader size range than old Cushnie gowns still circulating on TheRealReal, covering sizes 0–18.
The designer’s starting point was a gown with a fitted bodice and long sleeves that drape down the wearer’s arms. “I really wanted to have this structured dress, but then it feels soft and romantic and sort of in the cascading bust and sleeve detail,” Cushnie says. Then, building upon it for an entire collection, she was “thinking about silhouettes I’ve been drawn to, that have worked well in the past, and then reimagining it for a modern bride in its own unique way.”
Wedding dress marketing can be a sea of archetypes, in the style of old-school magazine personality quizzes: are you the romantic bride, the minimalist bride, or the bohemian bride? Cushnie tells me her collection isn’t for just one of those profiles. The simplicity of her BHLDN collection makes it suitable for any bridal aesthetic—or, for one bride extending her big day across several days. “I think there’s so many more events people are doing and making it a wedding weekend, so there’s more to cater to.”
“Some of them don’t have the best hanger appeal,” Cushnie laughs as she flicks through the racks, showing me the pleated detail on a sleeve and the open back on a blazer dress. Not that it matters to the designer—it’s what happens when a bride steps into one of her dresses that does.
When Cushnie reflects on her past life in bridal design, she comes back to her DMs and the women writing to her. “In the past, with my previous collection, it was so lovely to hear from women who’d bought my dresses, whether they’d worn it to a great first date or a graduation or they got engaged in my dress. Even before I did bridal at Cushnie, a lot of people were wearing my dresses in white for different parts of their wedding,” she reflects. “It feels really good to be a part of that person’s special day.”
So with another chance to design for one of the most special of special occasions, “I’m super excited,” Cushnie says. “What’s not to love about weddings?”
CARLY CUSHNIE FOR BHLDN: FIRST LOOK
Carly Cushnie for BHLDN launches October 17, exclusively on anthropologie.com and in select BHLDN locations in Anthropologie stores.
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This story originally appeared in harpersbazaar.com