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A Galina bubble-hem dress, $299 at DavidsBridal.com.
TODAY contributor
updated 4/20/2011 2:53:44 PM ET 2011-04-20T18:53:44

It’s the rise of short.

In fashion, hemlines rise and fall practically on a whim. But in the bridal market, where the full-length gown is king, the addition of short dresses and gowns for brides is practically blasphemous.

Yet at last week's bridal fashion showcase in New York, short options showed up in almost every important collection for spring 2012. 

“In bridal, we’ve seen short creeping in in the past three or four seasons,” Mara Urshel, owner of Kleinfeld’s, told TODAY.com. But this season, “every designer collection had a short dress in it, if not two. We’re selling a reasonable amount of them.”

Net-a-Porter’s U.S. editor Tracy Taylor believes the short trend is mirroring a celeb movement. “Short is the new long for red carpet dressing,” she told TODAY.com, “and for brides to look different, the short wedding dress is the way for her to be different, stand out and show off her best assets.”

On her site’s bridal boutique, “at this moment, 20 percent are short white dresses,” she said, citing designers like Lanvin, Roland Mouret and Jason Wu, all of whom have made short wedding dresses exclusively for Net-a-Porter.

Designer Amsale created a line of short dresses called “The White Dress,” priced from $1,200 to $1,800. On Urban Outfitters’ new bridal website BHLDN, three of the 15 bridal gowns offered are short.

Image: wedding dress
A short J. Crew wedding gown is perfect for a bride craving "versatility," says its designer, Tom Mora.

And two months ago, David's Bridal started stocking 2-in-1 gowns, long dresses that unzip to transform into a more casual mini that's perfect, say, for dancing at your reception.

That's echoing a trend some brides have adopted, which is purchasing two dresses: one for the ceremony and photos, and another, often shorter version, for the after-party.

“Short dresses are great for an intimate wedding that flows seamlessly from a ceremony into dinner and dancing,” said Kimberly Lee Minor, chief fashion strategist at Priscilla of Boston. “It’s an unexpected look that brides can wear to mix things up for the festivities.”

Bridal designers had any number of reasons for including these abbreviated looks in their collections.

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“There’s great versatility to a short dress,” explained Tom Mora, wedding designer for J. Crew. “After the formality of the ceremony, it’s nice to have on something short so you can freely enjoy the rest of your evening without the restrictions and fuss that may come with a long gown.”

Story: Middleton's gown likely to be an influential one

Then there's the cost perspective. “Brides have been looking for cost-effective options for their big day," said Dan Rentillo, vice president of design for David's Bridal. Just like less-formal weddings cost less, so does, well, less dress.

Another reason? The cost-be-darned trend of taking cues from celebs. Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, the mistresses of red carpet dressing, always include short options for their celebrities and brides. “We have included short dress options in our bridal collection for several seasons now,” Chapman said. “There are so many different types of brides and so many different styles of weddings to consider. We feel it’s important to offer a range of lengths and silhouettes to choose from.”

Ultimately, it's about answering the needs of customers — something Oscar de la Renta knows better than anyone. “I want my collection to appeal to many different types of brides who may have very different types of weddings,” he said.

No matter what, short is here to stay, predicted Urshel. “It’s become a staple in the collections — there will always be shorts with the long dresses.”

Let hope short dresses make for long marriages.

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Video: Glamorous celebrity wedding gowns remembered

  1. Closed captioning of: Glamorous celebrity wedding gowns remembered

    >>> this morning on "today's style" glamorous wedding gowns . everybody is speculating about kate middleton 's wedding dress . no matter what she decides it will make its mark on fashion. rob shuter is here with the dish on glamorous wedding gowns to date. good to see you.

    >> good morning.

    >> we have the iconic wedding dress .

    >> in the building. no one said i could touch it.

    >> only three people allowed to touch it. as we look at princess diana 's dress people are wondering what kate middleton will go for. obviously there will be a stark contrast.

    >> it won't be that. as beautiful as the dress is it definitely says '80s. it's not modern. it's not what e with eel see kate in at all.

    >> that was the cinderella dress then.

    >> kate will be a princess but in a more stylish -- she has her own style already. she's modern, cutting edge. it will be a simple gown. they have not announced the designer.

    >> and they are not going to.

    >> princess diana did and for months there were people outside the design studio trying to get a glimpse. this is under cover. there will be two dresses -- a dress she gets married in and a dress for the reception.

    >> two designers possibly.

    >> maybe.

    >> could be the same designer doing two dresses. it's been 30 years since we saw the princess diana dress. what is it about that dress that made it so iconic.

    >> the story of what happened to princess diana , that dress is over 29 years old. we are still talking about it. it's the most photographed wedding dress of all time.

    >> 25-foot train.

    >> amazing. one little detail the designer forgot is they had to put her into a glass carriage and they didn't realize it until she got out and it was a little bit crinkled up when she got out of the carriage. that will not happen to kate . kate will be in a limo, not a glass carriage.

    >> let's talk about other famous celebrity dresses over the years. mariah carey 's 1993 ceremony, the dress was a lot like princess diana 's.

    >> she requested it. her husband at the time tommy mattola, she requested vera wang make her a dress like princess diana 's. but her train was 27 feet.

    >> had to be longer.

    >> a little bit longer than princess diana 's.

    >> as we are talking about british royalty we have to talk about american royalty. when caroline bissett married john kennedy show wore her friend's design.

    >> it was quite a risk. everyone including calvin klein was surprised.

    >> made the career.

    >> it changed this guy's life.

    >> then chelsea clinton who we saw marry in july. very simple.

    >> she had two dresses, too. she changed for the reception. i's not that uncommon what kate will do.

    >> that was a gorgeous dress.

    >> we saw katie holmes and tom cruise when they were wed in italy in 2006 . tell me about her gown.

    >> katie said she wanted to take tom's breath away which she did in this armani gown he designed personally for her.

    >> it's a gorgeous gown. we appreciate you being here. rob, thank you so much. still


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