I knew something was afoot when I arrived early to the Imitation of Christ show Thursday and saw interns scurrying around scattering rose petals on the stage (which was decorated with a garland-strewn canopy) and down the center aisle of the ballroom at the W Hotel in Union Square. As if that wasn’t enough of a tip-off, standing in the corner was a dude dressed as a priest. Turns out Father Andrew O’Connor is a real ordained Diocesan priest, and had agreed to officiate at the fanciful wedding dreamed up by IOC designer Tara Subkoff to showcase her Spring 2012 collection.
As the It Girl wedding guests (including Susie Bubble, Natasha Lyonne, Cory Kennedy, Byrdie Bell, Arden Wohl, and photographer Ellen von Unwerth) looked on, singer Natalie Rose LeBrecht sang a lovely a cappella version of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” and out came a tuxedoed groom and best man, followed by a flower girl in a pretty embroidered dress, who tossed more petals as she strode toward the altar. Several dozen bridesmaids followed, all dressed in beautifully ethereal IOC confections that recalled garden party frocks from the Thirties and Forties (think: floaty feminine dresses with delicate beading, lace, and lingerie-inspired details in dusty shades of blue, cream, and blush). Best of all, the models were actually smiling – a rarity at most fashion shows.
Then a string quartet struck up the familiar notes to “Here Comes the Bride,” and, well, there came the bride: model/actress Lydia Hearst-Shaw in an elegant lace gown with a figure-flattering corset. As Father O’Connor advised the bride and groom to “imitate Christ for one another” (meaning: strive to be the best they can be and to see the best in each other throughout their marriage), it was easy to forget this was not a real wedding, and more than one hardened fashionista got tears in her eyes. Then he pronounced them man and wife, the “newlyweds” kissed, and the crowd erupted in a huge heartfelt cheer. Huzzah!
Between the sun-dappled ballroom, the gorgeous gowns and the beaming bridal party (all two dozen of them) this was one of the most joyful, feel-good fashion events I’ve ever attended. “I miss my old shows,” Tara told me after the show. “And I wanted to give people something in the spirit of that – something fun and beautiful – to start the week!”
Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.