Finally! Elegant Bridal Separates for The Rest of Us

sikihara designs

Judging by the number of people searching “bridal suits” on the Web, there’s a growing populace of women who are saying “no” to the dress for their weddings. Whether it’s older brides who may not want the frou-frou; a trendier bride who wants to buck wedding traditions and show off her personal style or a woman who simply doesn’t like or feel comfortable in dresses, we’re seeing evidence of growing demand for bridal suits and bridal pants. (In fact, check out GayWeddings.com Publisher Kathryn Hamm’s bridal pants.)

This demographic is exactly why Sikihara, a new bridal separates line from designer Denise Brownlee, exists. In its second collection since May of this year, the line consists of sophisticated, slinky pants, skirts, jackets and tops. (Although some top-skirt combinations may look like dresses, Brownlee doesn’t make dresses. All of her pieces are separates, with the exception of one tunic which may be worn as a dress.) 

“I felt there was a void in the bridal market,” Brownlee told GayWeddings.com. “As a sportswear designer, I would see things out in the market and I would say, ‘That’s it. That’s what I would wear [at my wedding].’

[Check out our “Lesbian Wedding Fashion” Pinterest board for more non-dress bridal fashion inspiration!]

“It was just my vision to see sportswear in the bridal wear [market].”

Brownlee, a former head apparel designer for QVC, has breathed design from a very young age. Her mother—whose Japanese maiden name provided the inspiration for the name Sikihara—was a seamstress.

“So, I was born and raised into it,” Brownlee said with a laugh. “As a child, we’d go out to the fabric stores and we’d pick our fabrics and she’d make clothes for me.”

From there, Brownlee studied fashion design at Moore College of Art and Design before embarking on a successful design career in New York. Sikihara, which Brownlee both owns and designs, is a long-time dream come true.

For some brides, the line will also be a godsend.

“The LGBTQ community was just a natural fit,” Brownlee told us. She said she’s gotten a lot of positive feedback from engaged LGBTQ folks on social media, as well as overall enthusiasm from bridal boutiques, particularly for her pant. “Fortunately this past fall, pants were a hot trend,” Brownlee continued.

Besides wanting to marry sportswear and bridal wear, Brownlee said she’s inspired by (and wants to serve) all types of brides.

“I believe strongly in empowering women, so that was also the inspiration—empowering non-traditional brides,” she told GayWeddings.com.

“Brides spend thousands of dollars on a wedding dress,” she said. “She wears it for a day, tucks it away and never wears it again. With separates, my intention is to separate those pieces and coordinate with the clothes she already has in in her closet.

“Doing separates, it allows the woman to create a look that’s unique to her because women come in all sizes,” Brownlee continued. “This also provides the bride the opportunity to choose a unique style for herself.”

Brownlee plans to design four collections each year (she’s already got two under her belt for 2015). Expect to see the line in retail stores and bridal boutiques for Spring 2016. Visit her website Sikihara.com for more details.


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Although I've spent the last decade riffing on everything from suburban politics to race in media, documenting love stories as content manager of GayWeddings.com definitely takes the cake. A proud alumna of Howard University's journalism program, I've written for Parents.com, The Huffington Post, xoJane and Essence magazine. When I'm not writing, I'm debating the merits of Drake, obsessing over frozen yogurt or plotting my next international adventure. I want to feature you on GayWeddings.com! Always feel free to drop me a line at community [at] gayweddings.com to share your engagement, wedding and love stories.