“I don’t feel like we have reinvented the wedding dress,” says Susien Chong, design director at Lover. “I think we have just come at it from a different perspective.” At a first, cursory glance, the White Magick line does resemble a traditional, garden-variety wedding collection. The dresses are white. They are lace. But step closer – lean in and actually touch the soft, delicate fabrics – and suddenly these dresses take on a meaning of their own. Graceful and elegant, resoundingly feminine and yet resolutely modern, these simple dresses (and one chic pair of tailored trousers) are a breath of fresh air in the staid world of bridal wear.
Launched in mid 2012 – around the same time as the opening of its Strand Arcade store – the collection is a reimagining of some of Lover’s most popular designs. “We continued to receive requests for many of our dresses long after the seasons had finished,” Chong tells us. “More often than not they were our white lace dresses.” Although the styles were not originally designed to be bridal, Lover customers – fiercely loyal and famously devoted – were seeking out these rare and unique frocks for their big day. Chong and her partner and co-director Nic Briand decided to gather some of the most popular designs under the name White Magick, adding in select new looks each season.
The Lover customer, who started shopping at Briand and Chong’s stall at the Bondi Markets almost 15 years ago, is all grown up and ready to walk down the aisle. They are the same devotees who followed the label as it grew into the internationally renowned brand it is today, stocked at David Jones and Net-A-Porter. The designs, inspired by muses including Patti Smith and Charlotte Rampling, embody what Chong terms the, “Romantic and modern femininity” that is in the Lover DNA.
The third incarnation of White Magick, available exclusively in Lover’s Strand Arcade store, brings with it a fresh emphasis on structure. Strapless necklines and bodices are reinforced with relaxed corsetry. Halter ties and trumpet sleeves add body and volume to clean, simple lines. As usual, lace is the focus. Whether scalloped, gathered, pin-tucked or flowing, each dress is a meditation on the many, varied beauties of white lace. “Lace has a fantastic versatility,” Chong says. “The same white lace can be used for a beach dress cover up or a wedding dress … Lace is timeless, it doesn’t age.”
It’s not just lace that is versatile in the collection. Each dress – from the string-tied asymmetrical mini to the gathered, flowing tea dress with cap sleeves – is wearable beyond the wedding. In its typically understated way, Lover wants to remind us that white lace and weddings are not exclusively linked. “We see a lot of these dresses used for events such as christenings, Derby Day, graduations,” Chong says.
Chong may be right in saying Lover hasn’t reinvented the wedding dress. But it has crafted a new romantic aesthetic: ethereal and delicate, with an undercurrent of steely intelligence. All of that, with just a bit of white lace.