Wedding gowns with a touch of Gatsby

Ines Di Santo's Nancy gown is silk shantung

Ines Di Santo's Nancy gown is silk shantung with Alençon lace, $7,200, and detachable peplum, $3,800; at Bridal Reflections. (Credit: Mike Colon)

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Talk about perfect timing.

Just when so many women these days are captivated byBaz Luhrmann's flashy remake of "The Great Gatsby," or the veddy, veddy British doings on PBS' "Downton Abbey," bridal designers are unleashing a slew of new looks that are . . . well, old.

Vintage looks are all the rage, from retro silhouettes (1920s flapper fare and slinky, '30s-style satin column gowns straight from the closet of Jean Harlow) to Art Deco-y accessories (crystal brooches, headpieces, even headbands) to the shock of all bridal shockers -- sleeves.

"Brides have had a decade of strapless, strapless, strapless, but now we're seeing a move away from that," says Roselynn Fiumara, general manager of Bridal Reflections, with shops in Carle Place, Massapequa and Manhattan.

The sleeves thing is part of a return to "coverage," as they call it in the bridal biz -- a major trend, if a somewhat amusing term given how sheer sleeves can be.

"With things the way they are these days, people like to look back to what seems an easier, more glamorous era," says Fiumara. "You fantasize."

Strapless lovers, of course, still have plenty of selection.

"I think strapless is going to win out," says Sania Recupero, manager of Wedding Salon of Manhasset. For her, it comes down to one word: Comfort.

It's a guiding principle today with high-end designers like Monique Lhuillier and Vera Wang, who are creating "these big beautiful ballgowns that are light as a feather," Recupero says.

Chic, grand, but unencumbered.

"Brides love that feeling," says Recupero.

Brides also love choices. Here's what you can expect to find in coming months:

Something old . . .

"A dress should never be a complete copy of a vintage look," says Robert Barnowske, bridal design director at David's Bridal. "You have to make it modern or else it will look too much like a costume."

At WeddingSalon of Manhasset, Gatsby-like dresses have been ordered from Amanda Wakeley (a British designer) and Johanna Johnson (a New Zealand native based in Australia). Both offer Bohemian nostalgia, but with right-now red-carpet appeal.

Luckily, it takes very little to hint at history.

"An Art Deco earring or handbag gives a perfect touch of '20s," says Barnowske.

Or a headpiece, like the beauties from Robin Mayer at Boutique de Voile in Westbury. Her line includes Le Fleur Chain (floral hairpins linked by strands of crystals) and the aptly named Gatsby comb (very flapper).

Something new -- coverage

"People always say, 'Oh, you have sleeves!' " says British designer Alice Temperley. "They give a bit of security, which is important on such a special day, when a woman is liable to be a little nervous."

Temperley Bridal's Titania 2013 collection offers eight new styles, including the Peony Dress (a languid crepe-de-chine gown with fluted sleeves), and a modest blouse-skirt ensemble (in scads of corded French lace).

"The look is demure," says Temperley. "And nice for an older customer who may want to cover her arms."

Coverage also may be required at religious ceremonies, adds Barnowske. Look for shrugs (horsehair, tulle and very sculptural, at Vera Wang) or jackets (sheer and slight at Junko Yoshioka).

Baby got back

Keyhole backs have long been popular, but designers are now going all out, backing dresses with sheer net and elaborate beading.

Lea-Ann Belter's Charlize gown is pure Hollywood glam, in bias-cut silk charmeuse, with tiers of Swarovski crystals down the back.

And Ines di Santo's charmeuse gown goes va-va-voom with a tattoo-like lacy pattern.

"It's amazing," says Fiumara, of Bridal Reflections. "Everybody's talking about it."

Convertible cachet

For brides who desire multiple looks, detachable trains, peplums and belts offer variety, from ceremony to cake-cutting.

"You get more bang for your buck," says Fiumara, of an Ines di Santo dress with detachable peplum. "It's pretty much two dresses, one fitting."

Ribbon sashes and blinged-out belts can vary a look as well. White by Vera Wang's fall line includes a horsehair sash with hand-cut organza, tulle flowers and crystal embellishments.

Heavy metal

Metallics can look modern, with just flecks of gold -- as in the hand-painted tulle strapless by Carolina Herrera. Or decidedly Deco, with an all-over tone like "sterling," a new glisteny gray shade from this fall's White by Vera Wang collection at David's Bridal.

The key is to keep it "burnished, not bright," says Barnowske.

For a gilded look, Marchesa offers a creamy strapless with regal, rose gold and crystal bodice, and a pearl-collar number of gold metallic lace. Speaking of which . . .

Race for lace

Lace -- a bridal basic -- is getting a makeover. Designers are mixing patterns and layering appliqués. Chantilly and Lyon lace are moving in on the popular Alençon. Temperley Bridal's Orchid Dress, from the Titania 2013 line, has tiers of Chantilly lace, silk tulle and satin ribbon, while Astrid, an off-white strapless silk organza gown from Carolina Herrera, shows a hand-painted lace pattern.

"We've been saddled with the same strapless look for some time," says Recupero. But, in a way, that may be a good thing, she says.

"Designers have to turn to new textures, new techniques -- so dresses look new again."

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