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Best Leg Forward
Gowns with statement-making slits make their way down the fall runways
Nola Sarkisian-Miller CTW Features
April 5, 2012

Monique Lhuillier
(Enlarge photo)

The display of Angelina Jolie’s striking, singular gam on the worldwide stage at the Oscars this year has given the thigh-high slit some legs, especially in the world of bridal gowns.

Jolie’s dress certainly wasn’t the first to embrace skin. The runways and red carpet have seen their share of exposed gams in the last two years. Most recently, the fall 2012 collection was a walkway of models fiercely strutting their exposed limbs. Black maxi skirts with slits were on display at Balmain. Jean Paul Gaultier showed off a strapless black gown sliced up the side. And, a Gucci model donned an emerald green skirt that opened up high enough to reveal hot pants.

So, while a recent poll on Glamour.com found most respondents disapproving of Jolie’s pose, bridal designers are marching to their own beat, demonstrating their love affair with the leg for fall. Monique Lhuillier let loose a handful of looks including a halter-neck draped sheath with a front side slit and a strapless dress with a textured floral skirt cut just so for proper leg extension, which reflect a bride’s desire to feel sexy on her wedding day, says Kadie Uretz, general manager of the Monique Lhuillier flagship store in Beverly Hills.

“The dramatic front slit on the skirt of the gown reveals some major leg and creates a dramatic walk down the aisle,” Uretz says. “Brides are able to still have a traditional bridal look, but with a more current silhouette.”

Certainly, the look injects a bit of informality in the tone of the wedding, creating a less stuffy affair. Angel Sanchez says his collection, which includes a double georgette and embroidered tulle gown with a revealing slit on the side, speaks to a more modern and relaxed bride.

“The idea was to give the gown a certain degree of sensuality and freedom,” Sanchez says.

Sanchez notes it’s important to strike a chord in keeping the sensual from swinging into the tasteless. Typically, the gowns keep the slit unexpected, often eschewing cleavage or hip-hugging tightness in favor of one sexy element.

Bridal retailers agree. Lindsie Jones, owner Haute Bride in Los Gatos, Calif., plans to carry Hayley Paige’s floor-length silky fringe gown with a thigh-bearing slit. But Jones isn’t sure yet how her customers will respond to the look, especially since she just opened the store in March.

“I’m willing to take a chance on it,” Jones says. “I think it may be a bit much for our brides, but I think it can be appropriate for a wedding if done right.”

The key is in the accessorizing. Such a statement-making look doesn’t require much. Recall Jolie’s inky-black velvet Versace gown worn with classy peep-toe heels. She wasn’t wearing many baubles - just simple earrings - and she left her hair down.

And, don’t forget the attitude.

“Although transitioning the look down the aisle can be quite daunting, confidence in the leg and the [groom] on your arm is more than enough to pull it off,” says designer Paige.