How would you describe your style?
My designs all have a vintage ethereal feel to them. I try to design bridal gowns and accessories that are beautiful and glamorous but very easy to wear and comfortable. I love luxurious fabrics and lots of crystal so these tend to feature quite a lot in my collections.
My accessories are also very vintage. I like to use lots of gold and crystals, pearls and flower shapes. I like it when details flow into accessories, not necessarily matching but having details that work together.
How did you start out in bridal wear?
I have always been very creative and always made my own clothes. When I was 15 my art teacher set up a work placement for me at a couture bridal boutique where I learned the ropes of making bridal gowns and corsets, decorating shoes and making head dresses. I was only supposed to go for 2 weeks in my summer holiday but I went every day for the 6 Week break. I was then lucky enough to become a Saturday girl and continued to work in the boutique throughout 6th form and even used to come back from university every Saturday and holiday. We used to joke that the owner had micro chipped me so I wouldn’t leave! 10 years later I took over the boutique and have been living out my bridal dreams for the last 5 years! Its such an incredibly rewarding job. It can be stressful at times but it’s all part and parcel of the industry, it’s an important day and it has to be perfect. I feel so privileged that brides entrust such an important role to me.
Is there a particular era you look to for inspiration?
I love the golden age of couture. When ladies would visit ateliers and have outfits and gowns made from the most exquisite fabrics. Nothing really beats hand made garments. To look inside some of the outfits on display in the V&A with their hand stitched hems and beautiful hand sewn beadwork really is a thing of beauty.
I also love watching old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. The fabrics and gowns that she used to wear were so beautiful, so romantic. The way she was able to move in them and really show off in them is a great inspiration for bridal wear. Turning heads and owning the dance floor is definitely what bridal wear should be all about!
What style of gown is your personal favourite?
I love simplistic beauty in a bridal gown. That sort of timeless elegance you get from a Jenny Packham or a Claire Pettibone gown. They’re two designers that are really making me swoon at the moment. So many textures and such gorgeous beadwork without over-doing the design elements. I think there is a fine line between decoration and over-kill. It’s a question of balance.
I also really love a great back detail on a dress. Its the first part of you that most of your guests get to see as you say your vows, so it’s a really important part of your gown.
Talk us through your design process?
When I’m designing for a client, I want her to feel a million dollars in her dress. Anything less just isn’t good enough for your bridal gown. If you’re not super excited to put it on and don’t want to take it off, it’s not the right one. So I want to exploit all the attributes of a bride that she loves and skim over any that make her feel self conscious. A lot of what makes a dress look fabulous rather than flat is how you carry yourself in it. I want my brides to have a shoulders back, head held high, show off experience in her dress. Not a cower in the corner one.
My first step is to really listen. Find out about my bride. What does she like? what’s her venue like? What types of fabrics does she want to feel against her skin? Does she need something lightweight or something to keep her warm? Does she need her gown to travel well?
Brides can then choose some gowns from my current collection to try and I’ll suggest some that I think will suit her that she may not have thought of or encountered before. My dresses are quite different to off-the-peg designs so this happens quite a lot!
We’ll then look at fabrics together and I guide my brides through the best choices for her gown. And then I will do her a design sketch of her dream gown.
And that’s where the dream starts!
What trends are popular at the moment?
Lace is still very popular, as well as blush tones in gowns.
In the accessories world, my Bluebell hair vine has been super popular as hair vines are all over the bridal catwalks at the moment. My little bridal cuffs have been proving really popular too. They make a great addition of sparkle to a brides outfit and accessorise her bouquet as she holds it in photos and add a little sparkle. And who doesn’t love a bit of extra sparkle?!?