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Something New : Gowns: Here comes the bride, all dressed in a soft shade of blue, peach or pink.

Don’t be surprised if the “something blue” the bride wears this spring turns out to be her gown.

Pastel shades of blue, peach and pink are the dominant trend in bride’s dresses this year, says Country Elegance designer Susan Lane, a 20-year veteran of the business.

From a distance, these very light colors read as traditional as white. Up close, their delicate, lush sheen is softer than stark white.

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In the film “Steel Magnolias,” actress Julia Roberts wore a pale pink gown that went with her character’s wedding colors: “blush and bashful.” The color was barely discernable in the gown. Costume designer Julie Weiss added delicate pink flowers to the bodice and pink sashes to the skirt.

Weiss has also designed gowns for real weddings, including that of Mariel Hemingway, whose dress was in shades of rose and peach. Color, Weiss says, is quite appropriate for wedding dresses. “I think the colors of spring, blooms and skies are associated with things beginning, and marriage is a renewal, a fresh start.”

Traditionally, brides choose white for their first trip down the aisle, as a symbol of purity. But color is now as acceptable for a first-time bride as for one who has already marched down the aisle.

First-time bride Barbara Dunlap, 33, chose a pale peach Country Elegance dress for her outdoor wedding in Texas this May. “White didn’t look right for a garden wedding out underneath an oak tree. Peach will be softer in the bright sunlight.” Dunlap is an assistant costume designer for “The Young and the Restless.”

Barbara Tober, editor-in-chief of Bride’s magazine, sees a sociological explanation for the color trend. Noting that the average age of a bride is 23.6 years, Tober says many brides are sophisticated enough to look beyond tradition. “The woman has chosen a dress because she knows she will look beautiful in it, not because it is some ancient symbol of purity. “

The trend toward color has been building for several years, but, “it has been more accepted over the last year,” says designer Christos, who will be in Los Angeles for a trunk show at I. Magnin, Wilshire, starting Jan 30. His “champagne pink” is a very popular shade. “Pink, which is like a blush, is so flattering to every skin color,” he explains.

“After white and ivory, pink is the most popular color,” says Heather Herron, owner of Beverly Hills Bridal and Formal shop. The store, which carries the San Martin label, is the featured retailer at Geary’s Bridal Fair on Feb. 9, and Herron says the fashion show will include a number of apricot and pink dresses.

Color is only one of a broad array of options facing a bride. She can wear a mini- or a full-length gown, a traditional or contemporary style, a dress that is embellished or elegantly plain, or one made in a synthetic fabric, silk or satin. All are considered correct.

Designers Arnold Scaasi and Bob Mackie are touting minis, but brides, it seems, aren’t buying them. A survey of several bridal shops found that when it comes to ordering, long gowns prevail.

One possible exception is the convertible dress by Robert Legere for the Diamond Collection. It features a long, full skirt (attached with snaps and Velcro) for walking down the aisle. Later, the bride can remove the skirt to reveal a modern lace minidress--one she might actually wear again.


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