In January, an email went out, with the subject line: "What if Anthropologie did weddings?" It was a teaser for BHLDN, Anthropologie's new bride-centric venture. We wondered: What did the letters mean? Beverly Hills London? Bride Hates Little Dogs Now? Benedictine Holies Levitate Directly Northward? Babies Help Liven Date Night? Brides Have Large Daunting Needs?
The site launched on Valentine's Day (awww) and all is revealed: it's basically short for beholden. According to the site:
Inspired by the Dutch word for "to keep," as well as countless tales from family and friends of the extraordinary weddings they'd been part of, we began dreaming up something new.
Our roots are with Anthropologie, so a passion for experience and creating one-of-a-kind moments runs deep. But our offering speaks more to the not-so-everyday occasions-ours is a voice that celebrates a woman's most anticipated milestones. And one that gives tradition a twist.
The items offered are supposed to give a bride her "own unique perspective." What does that mean? Well, for starters, "heirloom-quality wedding gowns, artisanal hair adornments, footwear, and lingerie." And! A relentlessly feminine, romantic and decidedly floofy aesthetic that certainly isn't for everyone.
And speaking of "not for everyone," it is quite noticeable that BHLDN lacks models of color. Kinzie Says blogger Maya writes:
All the women on the home page are lithe, blonde, with a fair complexion… I spotted a few brunettes and redheads, but not a single model had an olive or brown, let alone dark brown complexion. I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I spotted an Asian model.
Hmm, is someone taking white wedding a little too literally over at Anthropologie? Oh, right: Anthropologie doesn't care about black people. How soon we forget! The twee, crafty, dreamy stuff they shill is about aspirational lifestyles, and those lives are lived by white people. And white people are definitely the only people who want pretty, unique, special weddings! Whether they realize it or not, that's the message the site sends. Maya sums it up quite nicely:
This strikes me as a huge missed opportunity for BHLDN. As a supposedly forward-thinking company that markets itself as giving "tradition a twist", I would hope to see a more varied, multicultural vision of brides and bridesmaids on its website. How will darker-skinned girls know how a specific shade of dress might look on them? Shouldn't a Latina, African-American, or Indian bride be able to shop the BHLDN site and see at least one model who looks like her?