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Dressing in Layers: Layers of Possibilities

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2000

"Layering softens everything," says Amsale Aberra, a bridal designer in New York City, "much the way a camera filter softens a photograph." To create such beautiful illusion, designers layer fabrics in seemingly endless ways, combining weights, textures, colors, and lengths. But they don't mix and match just any fabrics.

These dreamy gowns are the result of some very practical forethought. Dense, opaque fabrics, such as taffeta or duchess satin, for example, which are too thick to layer on top of each other, are best used to form the body of a wedding gown. Delicate, featherweight materials such as organza, gazar, chiffon, and tulle are well suited for overlays or underskirts; organza and gazar are crisper silks than wispy, pliable chiffon, while tulle, a sheer net, is flowing and soft, but holds its shape well. A fragile overlay of organza, for example, softens an opaque fabric like silk shantung while a half dozen tulle petticoats provide the ballast to keep a bouffant skirt afloat without weighing down the bride with a cumbersome dress. Or if a bride loves the suppleness of satin but prefers a less shiny finish, a diaphanous overlay of chiffon creates a muted effect.

Layer Over All
From the neckline to the hem, silk organza floats above a beaded strapless charmeuse dress (above).

Even in the Flowers
Layers of texture find their way into the centerpiece of roses and mimosas.

Short Layers
A cropped overlay of tulle softens an embroidered lace bodice. The A-line taffeta skirt of the two-piece ensemble is embellished with embroidery at the hem.

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