In the reboot of “Father of the Bride,” now streaming on HBO Max, costume designer Caroline Eselin knew that she wasn’t going to emulate either of the previous incarnations of the film when it came to creating the wedding dress worn by Sofia (Adria Arjona). Instead, she drew inspiration from the new movie’s Miami setting and the city’s vibrant style.
This time, Andy Garcia is the title character who must come to grips with the marriage of his daughter and is determined to pay for her wedding. The film, directed by Gaz Alazraki, revolves around a sprawling Cuban American family and the well-to-do Mexican American family Sofia marries into.
Sophie’s sister Cora (Isabela Merced) is a budding fashion designer tasked with helping to create the wedding gown. Says Eselin, “We did things through her lens when it came to Sophie’s dress and the bridesmaid dresses.”
Since Cora has a bold fashion sense, Eselin incorporated touches like oversize pop art-esque buttons on the sides of the bridesmaid dresses — “a piece of fun art that you would see in South Beach,” she says. The bridal gown itself included subtle vertical stripes.
But the gown underwent a transformation in the movie: The dress Sofia starts out with isn’t the one she ends up with. “At first, we built the dress without the sleeves because we knew that was going to be the end product,” Eselin says.
Yet Eselin tinkered with puffed sleeves for the first iteration of the gown, sizing up different volumes. “We also tried different lengths of the sleeve and kept fine-tuning. I found this beautiful organza for the sleeves, and that’s when it all came together,” she says — though it didn’t stay that way.
Sophie’s gown isn’t the only one featured in the film though. Her mother Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) has her bridal gown featured in flashback. For that, Eselin turned to Latino designers. “That was a Carolina Herrera dress. We wanted to use a lot of Latin designers throughout,” says Eselin. “It gave us a sense of where Ingrid was in her life — her beginning. She’s put together, polished and has her dreams. We see, once the wedding plans get going, she’s finding herself again, so we wanted to reflect that in her look.”