An absolute pleasure to work on…a touch of something old. When asked to design someone a wedding dress, although I have done so before it is always a mixture of flattery, excitement, challenge and nervousness. You know this has to be the most beautifully thought-out, flattering, delicate, highly finished, considered and treasured piece that you must be as proud of as the bride herself!I always have in mind that this dress could be passed on to the bride’s daughter and has to be truly special.
Lesley (the bride) loved vintage, or a touch of something old. I love vintage too, but it always comes with its challenges, especially around fit. She had fallen in love with several other gowns, both vintage and off-the-peg in her mammoth try on session around London and Paris, but wanted something unique to herself at the same time, and also wanted something light and cool, as she was getting married in Koh Samui.
So, with all of those considerations I thought it best to add a vintage piece, and work in all of the ideas she had in mind.
Whilst shopping in the Porte de Clignancourt market in Paris, I came across a beautiful collar piece which had been taken off a 1920s wedding dress.
I fell in love with it: the perfect condition, the wonderful antiquated cream colour backing and the dull but very beautiful crystal beads, which made the most charming neck piece. It needed a slight alteration to remove the collar attachments… but I felt it could work on Lesley’s dress and be the start of something special.
I then sketched a piece around it, after I realised it fitted perfectly on the shoulder, and would be the holding feature point for a Grecian drape, to a soft bustle at the back.
Working with Kath, the head of pattern cutting at Luella, the sketch and mannequin mock up was carefully cut and manipulated to Lesley’s exact measurements. We then added more drama to the draping thus balancing the volume of fabric to work at every angle. Additionally, although there was plenty of fullness, drape and drama, it was a flattering whisper at the same time. The toile looked amazing, even in plain cotton voile.
After the third fit, we decided to leave the garment unlined. We knew Tanya would make the finest job of making the dress, we have all worked together before and over the years her tiny hands have just become more and more genius! I think we would have all struggled in a perfectionist competition! I then re-sourced the fabric for the underneath and the outer-layer.
I had previously sourced a slightly lighter weight for the underneath dress part, but as it was being un-lined, I felt a heavier more fluid fabric was essential to be flattering over the hips. Opting for a dull oyster cream, heavy French silk crepe which matched the backing of the vintage piece, I laid a very fine French crepe chiffon in a light mummy and slightly lighter, prettier ivory over the top. Lesley, being the trusting bride, felt comfortable to leave all the sourcing and choice to me, which was great. Also, I knew the shade would work better for her skin tone and the spirit of the dress, than a more pure white.
Finally, it was made, (well ingeniously and perfectly made) binding all of the seams inside with the light French chiffon of the outer shell.
We all decided to further tailor in the silhouette of the under piece at this stage to make it more flattering. And we dropped the neckline! Why not? The piece had become so sophisticated and elegant, that the lowered neckline looked even more charming, and perhaps most importantly, Lesley felt amazing!
Thank you to all, an absolute joy!
Everyone played their part…to perfection.