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Exclusive: Lydia Hearst Models the Season's Most Beautiful Wedding Dresses

  • Photos by Ruven Afanador

Plus, the bride-to-be, who's engaged to Chris Hardwick, opens up about her big day.

Flowers. Lots of them. Swaths of glorious color and perfume in the air. Ask soon-to-be-married Lydia Hearst what she loves most about her new Southern California home with Chris Hardwick, and she's as likely to talk about the gardens as any other detail. "We have wisteria, bougainvillea, roses, jasmine, gardenias—I love them all," she says. So when she said yes to our proposal of shooting a wedding dress story together, we knew flowers would play a starring role.

For the location, we chose Salvation Mountain, a painted dreamscape of adobe clay in California's low desert. Along with a fantastical combination of fresh and paper blooms, and Hearst's innate Hollywood style glamour, the setting put a completely fresh face on our already showstopping selection of gowns. The result: unusually vibrant bridal shots—perfectly fitting for one very vibrant bride-to-be. 

Hearst and Hardwick, a comedian and talk-show host, met through a colleague, and it's in their mutual love for pop culture, sci-fi, and great horror flicks that their worlds really collide. Already well known as a model and media heiress (her great-grandfather was publisher William Randolph Hearst), Hearst has turned her professional focus to acting and has appeared in films and television series, including the 2015 horror flick Condemned, the acclaimed independent flick Stealing Chanel, and the WE TV series South of Hell. Hardwick, meanwhile, divides his time between projects that include hosting AMC's Talking Dead and podcasts for his digital media company, Nerdist.

They're keeping the details of their wedding under wraps, but their shared passions are definitely part of the plan. "It's going to be absolutely beautiful," Hearst says. But, she adds, "our guests should be expecting zombies and robots."

As for her own gown: Designer Christian Siriano, one of Hearst's best friends, is creating it with her input. "It's going to be classic bridal meets haute couture," she says. She found plenty of inspiration modeling for us—a compelling use of color here, an elegant profile there. "Because I'll be wearing a custom gown, I didn't get the traditional moment of trying on all the dresses," she explains. "This shoot was my moment."

Dress pictured above: Pronovias "Verona" gown with floor-length cape, price upon request,

Take the Plunge

Take the Plunge

​A low cut back adds serious glamour to the otherwise sweet petit-fleur lace V-neck gown by Delphine Manivet (left) and is perfect for the bride who wants to play up all her angles. The look shows best if you wear your hair up. "I'm a big believer in looking the way you usually do," Hearst says of wedding-day styling. "You should feel relaxed and calm and not have a headache from a million bobby pins!"

And at right, you'll be floating on your big day in this tulle ball gown by Ines Di Santo. "A boatneck and long sleeves are so effortlessly beautiful and timeless for wedding gowns," says Hearst. This one has an embroidered illusion bodice and sleeves, giving a more modern look to the classic. 

The Details: Left: Delphine Manivet "Landrin" gown, $3,770,; Me&Ro earrings, $2,825,; Right: "Ailora" tulle ball gown, $6,6990,

Swing Away

Hearst is the image of the carefree bride in the swingy, lightweight silk Maticevski gown. A crown of yellow acacia completes the effect. Floral accessories like these aren't for the timid, but even more modest pieces can be brilliant. "They're absolutely stunning," Hearst says. "So beautiful and fresh."

The Details: Maticevski "Spiracle Gown", $4,800,; Céline "Baby Marta" sunglasses, $365,; Aurélie Bidermann earrings, $355,

Get the Glow

Hearst is not likely to wear purest white, even to her own wedding. "I'm very pale," she explains. "I look more glowy in bone colors," like this ivory crocheted-lace skirt and top by Houghton. The deep V-neck and figure-skimming shape are flattering but simple enough to pair with bold accessories. Since the newly minted California girl stays out of the sun, a wide-brimmed hat is a smart pick.

The Details: Houghton "Jules" skirt and "Julie" top, $1,250 and $685,; Melissa Joy Manning cuff bracelets, $775 and $3,340,; Melissa Joy Manning earrings $1,740,; Sloane Street ring, $2,680,

Think Big

In a high neckline and lace, Hearst looks old-school in the most appealing way. Costarellos's French lace dress has a '70s vibe—one we contrasted with an oversize floral headpiece and a red net veil. "I think it's sexy and elegant," Hearst says. "It's the look I'm leaning toward for my wedding day."

As for the long embroidered coat and its matching romper by Naeem Khan, at right? "Amazing and completely unconventional," says Hearst. They may not be typical, but they bring all the elegance a bride requires in a brilliantly colorful Indian-inspired package. 

The Details: Left: Costarellos French lace dress with guipure cotton trim, $4,730,; Obodo Home Craft necklace, price upon request,; vintage earrings; Right: Naeem Khan "Bougainvillea" coat and romper, $11,900 and $5,990,; Annette Ferdinandsen earrings, $2,300,

Love Lace

A chantilly lace capelet worn over a strapless trumpet gown (both by Oscar de la Renta) creates two looks in one. "The dress is exquisite but very simple," Hearst says. "The cape ties the look together."

The Details: Oscar de la Renta "Fallon" lace capelet and dress, $2,900 and $7,900,; Melissa Joy Manning ring, $1,950,; Beladora wide inlay cuff, $2,150,; Thomas Singer turquoise and silver cuff, circa 1970, $1,100,; vintage earrings. 

Branch Out

A nature-loving bride might be drawn to this silk gazar bird-point Monique Lhuillier two-piece look. "I love the delicate feminine accents," Hearst says. "It would be breathtaking for a bride, but it's also the kind of look I'm envisioning for my [matron of honor] sister."

The Details: Monique Lhuillier strapless bodice and full ball gown skirt, $995 and $2,995,; Aurélie Bidermann necklace, $945,; Ben-Amun by Isaac Manevitz collar with pendant, $470,; Pamela Love ring, $825,; Oscar de la Renta earrings, $395,; Monique Lhuillier "Ava" shoes, $695,

Brighten Your Day

Your wedding day is no time for subtlety. The gold and pink beadwork on this fully embroidered faceted-bead A-line gown by Marchesa (at left) dazzles. "The details are spectacular," says Hearst. It doesn't need any embellishment, but we, well, gilded the lily with gold jewelry.

At right, a simple profile and neckline can give a bride a quiet elegance. We paired J. Mendel's "Brigitte" crewneck gown with raw-edge organza ruffle skirt with chunky jewelry—plus Jimmy Choo shoes in cobalt. 

The Details: Left: Marchesa A-line gown, $6,495,; Paula Mendoza earrings, 4475,; Sloane Street gold strié bracelet with turquoise detail and gold strié cuff, $5,490 and $10,410,; vintage bracelet; Right: J. Mendel "Brigitte" gown, $11,000, Saks Beverly Hills Bridal Salon, 310-887-5509; Jimmy Choo shoes, $625,; Robert Lee Morris circa 1970 bangle, $850,; vintage necklace and earrings. 

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