Admittedly, the best accessory any bride can wear is her smile – a natural creative design crafter by the highest power. Oftentimes, the genuine smile is the direct reflection of the happiness of the bride. She is truly her happiest when she feels most comfortable in her own image. This could mean donning some jewelry, a fancy veil or adding simple but luxurious pieces to her outfit.
The destination bride also accessorizes her look. In Trinidad, there are several bridal accessory designers who maintain distinct aesthetics and are exceptional in the quality of the work they deliver. Darcel de Vlugt of Van der Vlugt, recently unveiled more of the VdV accessories she has been working on by creating a separate social media presence for the pieces. Island brides are now swooning over VdV accessories, which are quickly becoming “must have” pieces when it comes to the finishing bridal touch.
The VdV brand has always been closely linked to the designer’s own story. More than just a designer, de Vlugt sees herself as a creative, having served in the role as Editor-in-Chief for CFstyle.com as well as Fashion Editor for teenage lifestyle magazine AmPassion Teen. A professionally trained dancer from a young age, she chose to study art and fashion after a sports injury rendered a career in dance unlikely. However, she completed her dance studies past A level standard to attain her Associate diploma in Modern Theatre Jazz – making her qualified to teach dance – at just 18 years old. She has been a freelance writer for many years, writing for media publications around the world on fashion and lifestyle, as well as freelance ghost writing and a published poet and short story writer. While these creative undertakings have helped to define the woman that she is, Darcel is also very well known for her work as an ambassador for Vitiligo, a skin condition she has had since she was five years old.
A graduate of the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London with a BA in Fashion Design Technology (Women), Darcel debuted her first post-graduation collection at the Islands of the World Fashion Week in Nassau, the Bahamas in late 2008, returning the year after to win the Next Generation Designer Award with her second collection. Deciding to venture into the bridal realm in 2013, she empathizes with the great lengths brides go to in order to look and feel their best, during what can be a very testing and fragile time. This, she says, come from her own life journey with regards to beauty and strength, both inner and outer. She considers herself to be a “world citizen”, having lived in Israel, Syria, Cyprus and England throughout her life and travelling extensively beyond that. She speaks four languages, including Greek fluently, and has a strong understanding and appreciation for various cultures, countries, languages and all the adjustments necessary when moving from one place to the next; something a destination bride will definitely benefit from. Her experiences around the world have definitely contributed to the unique aesthetic of the VdV brand, including her accessories, which are designed to evoke “a moment of fantasy and inspiration through the noise of the norm.”
The designer operates a one woman show from conception to consultation to execution, exercising her skills in pattern making, fitting, sewing, hand stitching and particularly beading and lace embellishment, which she has become known for. The range of body chains, hair combs, bandeaus, hair pins, veils, crowns, bridal belts and other pieces for bridal and special occasion is created using fine materials like genuine Swarovski crystals and pearls, silk and handmade imported lace. She prides herself on not being conventional with the designs that are 100% her own, and pushing brides to consider less traditional options, particularly in the Caribbean where wedding traditions are still heavily embedded in the culture.
“My best work has always been the original, non-traditional work that the bride trusts me to create for her; the work that is most me,” she says. Darcel designs with a whimsical touch of fantasy, shown in her runway work over the years. Since moving into bridal, old vintage glamour is also one of her biggest inspirations, most evident in the VdV accessories. The unconventional bride can definitely incorporate these far from spurious pieces into her attire, both for her special day and beyond. Even for the simple bride who may not subscribe to the “glitterati”, a touch, a sparkle from VdV Accessories is the perfect way to bask in a slice of bridal heaven.
( Veil, Dress and Hair Piece by VdV Accessories)
Overall styling advice and other services for both the bride and her bridal party are available from the designer, who has found over the years that there is never a dull moment in the bridal world, with the most unusual requests constantly coming her way. One of her favourite projects to undertake is customization of gowns for the bride or bridesmaids, by taking something pre-purchased and transforming it using the VdV aesthetic into something new and original for its owner. She also believes in repurposing the bridal gown, having transformed her clients’ gowns into christening gowns when baby comes along and other items for the bride after the wedding. Having created her own daughter’s christening gown from a mix of her mother’s wedding dress and her First Communion dress, Darcel is also quite passionate about bringing luxury to the little ladies, continuing with her story.
Bridal season is in full swing so if you assume that this designer has her hands full, you are correct. Nonetheless, VdV accessories are available and made to order, either from previous designs or custom. Inspired destination brides can even collaborate with the designer to create gifts for the bridal party; a simple pearl necklace may be the perfect finishing touch presented as a bridal show gift to the maid of honour or bridesmaids. My advice is to get in touch and book a consultation as soon as possible, as time is definitely of the essence. Brides are able to pick up their pieces in studio, or have them delivered, even shipped internationally, so destination brides can definitely rest easy when it comes to their accessories.
I previously mentioned Darcel operating all aspects of her business. She is a major player in our fashion industry, both home and abroad. However, she contributes more than her fashion expertise, by increasing the marketability of destination Trinidad & Tobago to those brides who have the glitz and glamour of a VdV accessory in their trousseau and ever after. Mostly, purchases of VdV accessories make a profound statement – the destination bride stand to support a talented young woman who is a mother and a creative, who, despite medical challenges and life obstacles, has accepted herself and stands to be a beacon of hope for those women facing struggles but who also dare to dream and rise above them. This is the story behind her brand, and the story of the women she encounters. There is little doubt that as a bride who spends time with this designer, you will be inspired by more than the accessories she creates for you; you will be inspired by the value of her journey and the ability to move fearlessly into the next chapter of your own story.
House of VDV Studio: Central Trinidad