Though most don't know costume designer Catherine Thomas by name, they are no doubt familiar some of the iconographic cinematic looks she has created (Uma Thurman's yellow leather jumpsuit in Kill Bill; Meryl Streep's Little House-goes-Dolly Parton garb in A Prairie Home Companion). But now Thomas created a number of looks that no self-respecting person would ever want to be associated with: The ugliest, tackiest, trashiest bridesmaids dresses imaginable, part of Katherine Heigl's costumes in 27 Dresses, which opens next Friday. Thomas' favorite? A Gone With the Wind inspired frock, compete with hoop skirt, bonnet, and parasol: "I think that was a combination of both someone from the South and a huge 'Gone With the Wind' fan and Vivien Leigh fan who had this fantasy since she was a little girl to be married in that scenario." Ha! What is it about being able to force your friends into matching dresses and denying them any stake in the decision that so warps women's minds?
Though James Mischka of Badgley Mischka insists that "trends today are much kinder to the bridesmaids than they ever were before" and Mark Badgley backs him up by saying, "The look these days is much more casual," I don't believe it at all. (Seriously, have you checked out bridal "guru" Vera Wang's latest maids' concoctions? I threw up a little in my mouth just looking!) Most brides are still shoving their so-called best-friends in pastel confections that you would not wish upon your worst, ugliest enemy. Tom Nardone, the founder of Uglydress.com, points out that, in their state of nuptial-planning hysteria, "Brides will choose a dress the same way they choose the cake, the chair covers and, especially, the flowers. That's why you get necklines that match the contours of the calla lilies."
Some say, that, when it comes to bridesmaid garb, times are changing — "Girls...want more fashion-forward looks," says Francesca Pitera, the chief designer for Jim Hjelm, a New York bridal house — but I can't help but think this is just another version of the same problem. Ok, fine: Maybe you don't have to wear a baby blue damask silk gown which hangs at the natural waist and has crepe flowers blooming out of the shoulders, but are you really going to feel much better when you see yourself in a picture of the bridal party in 20 years time, bedecked in a burnt-orange baby doll dress? Or a royal purple bubble hem? Because while fashion will always yield cringe-inducing trends laughed at in personal snapshots and such, bridal-party wear is well-documented enough that everyone and their mother gets to have a laugh.