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200 bridal collections to be on show at BBEH
Feb '09
Europe's largest bridalwear exhibition, BBEH, opens its doors on Sunday 8 March. Spread over four halls of the Harrogate Exhibition Centre and three hotels (The St George, the Old Swan and the Majestic), this is the exhibition that kick-starts the year's buying season.

Bridalwear retailers from across the UK will be joined by buyers from as far a field as Japan and the USA, in a bid to be the first to pick up new, trend-setting suppliers and do business with some of the biggest names in the industry.

More than 200 collections will be on show for the three days. Interestingly, the exhibition, now in its 25th year, has attracted an increasing number of mainstream special-occasion houses keen to jump on the bridal bandwagon - an interest doubtless fuelled by the just-released Mintel report on the bridalwear market. This confirms that the sector is not yet affected by the economic downtown and that it is expected to grow faster than womenswear market overall.

With the UK bridalwear market valued at GBP220 million in 2008, and a known reluctance of brides-to-be to compromise on their dream dress, there is every indication that the autumn/winter 2009/10 season will be buoyant.

There are two central trends predicted by the leading manufacturers: the return of the big, romantic dress in luxurious fabrics, and the continuation of the body-hugging glam gown dressed for the new season with softly-draped layers, discreet beadwork and pleating. Top cover will be seen throughout the Harrogate halls - in small, tailored jackets and shrugs or feather-light fluffy wraps.

Winners of the Bridal Buyer Awards 2009 will be announced at a lavish black tie event on Monday 9 March. The 14 award categories this year include - for the first time - the Dress of the Year Award (gowns were selected by six fashion editors and voted for by thousands of visitors at the National Wedding shows in October).

The British Bridal Exhibition (BBEH)

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