Say No to the Dress: Why Women Are Trading Gowns for Wedding Suits
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Say No to the Dress: Why Women Are Trading Gowns for Wedding Suits

Bianca Jagger stunned onlookers when she opted to wear a Yves Saint Laurent skirt suit to wed Mick in 1971—an unconventional look that’s more relevant than ever. How to conjure her subversive style.

By ANN BINLOT
Fri, Mar 17, 2023 8:00amGrey Clock 3 min

ON MAY 12, 1971, Nicaraguan socialite Bianca Pérez-Mora Macías married Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger in a shotgun wedding in Saint-Tropez. (Bianca was four months pregnant with their daughter Jade.) Mr. Jagger flew in many of the estimated 75 guests on a chartered plane with only a day’s notice, and such superstars as Brigitte Bardot, Paul McCartney and Ronnie Wood attended. Although the union disintegrated after seven years, and Bianca told Vanity Fair in 1986 that “a rock star is the worst husband a woman could have,” her wedding went down in rock ’n’ roll history. Not only did she wed one of the era’s biggest heartthrobs, she shunned froufrou wedding gowns and opted for a risqué white suit by Yves Saint Laurent. The jacket exposed her bare chest; the bias-cut skirt concealed her pregnant belly; the veiled floppy hat projected a breezy sort of drama; and platform sandals punctuated the look.

While the outfit might not provoke comment now, it did then—in part because Ms. Jagger wore nothing beneath the plunging jacket. “It was really risky to not only have a jacket instead of a dress, but this huge décolleté,” said Florence Müller, an art and fashion historian who curated the 2010 exhibition “Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective” at Paris’s Petit Palais. Ms. Müller suggested that Ms. Jagger’s suit might have been an offshoot of the late Saint Laurent’s subversive spring 1971 couture collection. Known as “La Collection du Scandale,” it took inspiration from sex workers who frequented Paris’s Bois de Boulogne and from silhouettes popularised during the German occupation of France in the 1940s.

More than 50 years later, Ms. Jagger’s confidently unconventional suit feels newly relevant. Even before the Covid era, which upended countless couples’ wedding plans and called for less-formal celebrations, women were embracing alternatives to the prim white wedding gown. Just look at model and author Emily Ratajkowski, who cited Ms. Jagger’s wedding ensemble as an influence when she chose a mustard Zara suit and a veiled brown hat for her 2018 wedding.

In a recent 2,000-person survey by market-research agency OnePoll, one in five respondents agreed that the white wedding dress is a dated tradition. “The prospect of wearing a fluffy white dress was frankly embarrassing to me,” admitted Kaelin Goulet, 37, who works in consulting in New York. For her October 2022 wedding, Ms. Goulet enlisted Isabel Wilkinson Schor, founder of New York brand Attersee, to tailor the label’s ivory vest and matching trousers to perfection. “I wanted to be comfortable and to be able to rewear my outfit,” said Ms. Goulet. “My mom wore a white shirtdress when she and my dad wed in 1984, and I have vivid memories from my childhood of her wearing her ‘wedding dress’ to work on summer days.”

For a bridal suit, “fit is critical,” said New York stylist Micaela Erlanger. “It’s about being effortless,” she said, but there’s a difference between “relaxed elegance” and looking sloppy. Ms. Erlanger condones sets by brands including Danielle Frankel and Ralph Lauren, both of which deliver “exquisite tailoring.” New York bridal stylist Anny Choi, meanwhile, advocates looking beyond typical bridal brands, noting that New York designer Christopher John Rogers offers refreshing options. Going nontraditional, she added, doesn’t mean buying the trendiest thing off the runway. “Subtle yet impactful styling choices”—like Ms. Jagger’s decision to forgo a blouse and add a sun hat—will make the outfit, she said.

The fact that Ms. Jagger’s suit echoed her new husband’s three-piece—blurring gender lines—made it all the more memorable. “Bianca made this combination modern and sexy and really feminized [the] jacket,” which was largely reserved for men at the time, said Ms. Choi. Bicoastal gallerist Caroline Luce similarly subverted gender aesthetics in her 2020 Big Sur wedding. Ms. Luce, 37, who was originally set on a suit, found her dream bridal outfit in a black Ralph Lauren tuxedo dress. “Having my own version of a black tuxedo was a perfect balance to [my husband] Nino’s tuxedo,” said Ms. Luce. “It felt like such an elegant but understated way to enter into this next chapter of our lives—visually in tandem, side by side in simple suits.”

In her Yves Saint Laurent suit, Ms. Jagger was a woman who knew her power. Its “rebellious attitude,” Ms. Choi suggested, explains “why brides today continue to reference this look.”

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.



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The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index reveals investments of passion are paying strong dividends, in some areas at least

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Apr 9, 2024 4 min

Art was the investment of passion that gained the most in value in 2023, according to Knight Frank’s Luxury Investment Index (KFLII). This is the second consecutive year that art has risen the most among the 10 popular investments tracked by the index, up 11 percent in 2023 and 29 percent in 2022. Art was followed by 8 percent growth in jewellery, 5 percent growth in watches, 4 percent growth in coins and 2 percent growth in coloured diamonds last year.

The weakest performers were rare whisky bottles, which lost nine percent of their value, classic cars down six percent and designer handbags down four percent. Luxury collectables are typically held by ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) who have a net worth of US$30 million or more. Knight Frank research shows 20 percent of UHNWI investment asset portfolios are allocated to collectables.

In 2023, the KFLII fell for only the second time, with prices down 1 percent on average.

Despite record-breaking individual sales in 2023, a surge in financial market returns contributed to a shift in allocations impacting on luxury asset value,” the report said. “… our assessment reveals a need for an ever more discerning approach from investors, with significant volatility by sub-market.

Sebastian Duthy of AMR said the 2023 art auction year began with notable sales including a record price for a Bronzino piece. But confidence waned as the year went on.

“It was telling that in May, Sotheby’s inserted one of its top Old Master lots – a Rubens’ portrait – into a 20th Century Modern evening sale. But by then, it was clear that the confidence among sellers, set by the previous year’s record-busting figures, was ebbing away. In the same month, modern and contemporary works from the collection of the late financier Gerald Fineberg sold well below pre-auction estimates.”

The value of ultra contemporary or red-chip’ art contracted the most in 2023.

“Works by a growing group of artists born after 1980 have been heavily promoted by mega galleries and auction houses in recent years. With freshly painted works in excess of £100,000 almost doubling in 2022, it was little surprise that this sector was one of the biggest casualties last year. There is a risk there are now simply too many fresh paint artists with none really standing out.”

In the jewellery market, Mr Duthy noted that demand was strongest for coloured gemstones of exceptional quality, iconic signed period jewels, single-owner collections, and items with historic provenance in 2023. In the watches market, Mr Duthy said collectors chased the most iconic and rare timepieces.

A Rolex John Player Special broke the model record when it sold for £2 million at Sotheby’s in May, double the price for a similar example sold at Phillips in 2021,” he said.

Although whisky was the worst-performing collectable in 2023, it has delivered the highest return on investment among the 10 items tracked by the index over the past decade, up 280 percent. Andy Simpson of Simpson Reserved, said 2023 was a challenging year but the best of the best bottles gained 20 percent in value. In my opinion some bottles that lost significant value in 2023 will return through the next two years as they are simply so scarce and, right now at least, so undervalued, Mr Simpson said.

Whisky was the worst performing collectable in 2023 but it had highest return on investment over a 10-year period. Image: Shutterstock

Classic car expert Dietrich Hatlapa said the 6 percent fall in collectable vehicle values in 2023 followed a 22 percent surge in 2022. The strong performance of other investment classes such as equities may have dampened collectors’ appetites it’s a very small market so it only takes a minor change in portfolio allocations to have an effect, and there has also probably been a degree of profit taking. However, we have seen some marques like BMW (up 9 percent in value) and Lamborghini (up 18 percent), which appeal to a younger breed of collector, buck the trend in 2023.”

Mr Duthy said a dip in the share price of the top luxury handbag brands last Autumn appeared to spook investors. Last autumn it was possible to pick up an Hermès white Niloticus Himalaya Birkin in good condition for under £50,000. The recent slide reflects a general correction at the upper end that’s been underway for some time rather than changing attitudes to the harvesting of exotic skins.

According to Knight Frank’s Attitudes Survey, the top five investments of passion among Australian UHNWIs are classic cars, art and wine. Fine wine values gained just 1 percent in 2023 as the market continued its correction, said Nick Martin of Wine Owners. “It’s been a hell of a long run, so I’m not that surprised. Some wines from very small producers that had enjoyed the most exuberant growth have seen the biggest drops. It had got a bit silly, £50 bottles had shot up to £200 or £300.”

Favourite investments of passion: Australia vs Global

1. Classic cars (61 percent of Australian UHNWIs vs 38 percent of global UHNWIs)
2. Art (58 percent vs 48 percent)
3. Wine (48 percent vs 35 percent)
4. Watches (42 percent vs 42 percent)
5. Jewellery (18 percent vs 28 percent)

Best returns among investments of passion (10 years)

1. Whisky 280 percent
2. Wine 146 percent
3. Watches 138 percent
4. Art 105 percent
5. Cars 82 percent

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