Photos by Kelly O, Makeup by Rian Ashleigh
Lenna Petersen, a designer who's also media director for the boutique Baby & Company, built her veil from white bunny fur, shells, metal chains, braided leather, and long strips of cheesecloth culled from the supply she keeps on hand. ("In fact, I'm making cheese with some tomorrow," she says.) The finished veil manages to be ratty and majestic all at once, and it imparts a certain folkloric glamour. It's the perfect accessory for enchanted journeys into forests strewn with mystical creatures, shimmering piles of gold, and creamy princes in velvet leotards.
Custom-clothing superstar designer Mark Mitchell's veil involves hand-rolled and hand-sewn hems, a silk-floss chain-stitch embroidery, and a microweight silk gauze. (Banshees and dollhouse hobbyists are really into this fabric: It's all ceremonial and filmy and slow-floating, and its teensy strands hold miniature scales.) Silk gauze also tears, unravels, and gathers fingerprints—and its fine mesh causes threads to shred while they're passing through during needlework. "It was a nightmare," Mitchell says. "I felt oppressed after working with it all day, like I was a tailor from some 18th-century French court and would get only a loaf of bread as payment."
"I call it '60s-space-age-meets-glam-rock-meets-Barbie-bride," says Clear Coated designer Miriam Reynolds of her veil, an asymmetrical-pillbox-and-draped-layers vinyl concoction trimmed in gathered stretch tulle and piled-on flowers with alternating matte and shiny petals. Reynolds's veil contains a range of lengths and styles: Its parts can be swiftly removed, or switched and restacked, and then secured with dainty white ribbon. (She was inspired by customary Japanese weddings, with brides undergoing several outfit changes throughout the ceremony.) Worth noting: An early vinyl veil prototype incorporated hand-painted doily swirls to replicate lace, but "it just ended up looking too much like a shower curtain."
"It's like embroidery that grows over the face," says crochet designer Gabriela Serigatto of her veil, a delightfully unsettling arrangement of sheer organza, silky bamboo yarn, scrunched-up wads, nail-polished wire, and fake jewels. The segments coiling against the eye, up the nose, and into the ear reference the traditional veil's ability to obstruct the bride's senses, "keeping her separated and far away." Serigatto drew inspiration from many images, including the elegant and repulsing masterpieces of Alexander McQueen; a woman in a hospital bed, her head wrapped in bandages; and a dove, gutted, its insides spilling with meat and pearls.
Jonquil & Mr Black designer Jordan Christianson crafted his veil's traditional netted cap from brass horse-dressage tacks and raw-silk floss so freakishly delicate, it kept catching against the teeny burrs of skin on his hands: "I'd considered sanding down my fingertips to make them smoother, but then I used a set of needle-nose pliers to tie each knot, and that did the trick." There's also the antique dog muzzle: "It had been sitting around for a while." So Christianson reconfigured the leather straps to fit a human's head and finished the cage. "It was a little rusty, so I painted it to be more weddingy."
Casey Curran, sculptor to theater collective Saint Genet, has created scary and wonderful headwear from pheasant hides, taxidermy bear jaw forms, gold leaf, dead flowers, walkie-talkies, raw wool, and gobs of wax suggesting "semen frozen in space." Curran's veil blends design elements from "Saint Teresa's halo of ecstasy, a burka, and an executioner's mask," while the shape suggests "something is exploding from the face." The veil's construction materials include thousands of gold-foil wrappers culled from a restaurant supply store; they're more commonly used to enrobe premade hamburgers and hot dogs.